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Windows Server 2012 empty recycle bin

10 February,2017 by Tom Collins

Question: I’d created a load of .BAK files onto an attached disk and requested a flat file backup of all files on the added drive.

The aggregate size of the .BAK files was 10.2 TB but noticed during the flat file backup files being backed up from a folder called DRIVE_LETTER:\$RECYCLE.BIN.

Why is this happening?

Answer: I must admit I’ve been caught out with this one in the past , where I have requested a 20 TB temporary drive to be added and discovered 1.8 TB extra being backed via files I’d deleted and ended up in the hidden $RECYCLE.BIN

When a new drive is created , a hidden folder - $RECYCLE.BIN is added . When you delete a file through Windows Explorer – it’s added to the Recycle Bin.

To see the folder In Windows explorer highlight drive | View | Options | Change folder and search options

Choose Show hidden files , folders and drives & uncheck Hide protected


You can then use the GUI to clear down the recycle bin for the drive or I’ve also run the :

 rd /s /q <DRIVE_LETTER>:\$RECYCLE.BIN command – which successfully deleted the contents of the recycle bin.  

In effect this command deletes the Recycle Bin – but when you attempt to delete a file the recycle bin is created.

You also have the option of excluding the $RECYCLE.BIN from the flat file backup

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Author: Tom Collins (


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