The recycle bin on your PC is a useful folder for cleaning up your desktop and getting rid of any unwanted files from your system.
This folder allows for recently deleted files to be organized and stored for a while in an easy to find location.
Most things sent to the recycle bin are probably no longer needed and you will eventually delete them permanently off of your computer to free up excess space.
Sometimes, you may want to restore files sent to the recycle bin and this is an easy task that can be accomplished in a matter of seconds.
It’s also easy to delete files permanently from the recycle bin folder if you no longer want or need them. But what happens if you want to restore these deleted files for whatever reason?
Let’s take a look at how to recover items deleted from the recycle bin in Windows 10.
How the Recycle Bin Works
As briefly mentioned above, the recycle bin folder serves as a temporary location to store any recently deleted or unwanted files from your PC. It functions as an easy way to clean up and organize your desktop and system as well as a location where these files can be stored for a time before they are permanently removed. If you want to restore or recover these recently deleted files, the recycle bin also allows you to do so.
Any files that you drag and drop directly into the recycle bin will be temporarily stored in this location. Files that are deleted by selecting them and hitting the delete key will also be stored here as well. These tempory files can be easily recovered once they are placed into the recycle bin. All you need to do to recover files in the bin is to select the file you wish to restore, right-click on the selected file and then click Restore.
Once you restore files from the recycle bin, they will be returned to the same location on your computer that they were before being placed into the bin. These files will appear exactly as they did before you deleted them and no further action is necessary to access them. You can open the files and use them just as if they were never deleted in the first place.
Permanently Deleted Files
If you have emptied your recycle bin, those files will be permanently deleted and recovering them takes extra steps. It is not always possible to recover these files once they have been removed from the recycling bin, or deleted in another way but the steps we will look at below can help you to attempt to recover them.
Files can become permanently deleted in a number of ways that are worth looking at before we look at how to recover them. The most common method is by emptying the recycle bin. This action removes temporarily deleted files and they then become permanently deleted. Items can also be completed removed from your system if you used the Shift + Delete keys to delete the item or if the file is too big to fit into the recycling bin.
If a file is too large to fit into the recycling bin you probably saw a message asking if you want to permanently remove the file. If you clicked OK, this file will bypass the recycling bin and be permanently deleted. The recycle bin folder itself will also start to delete the files that have been in it for the longest amount of time once it becomes full.
How to Recover Items Deleted from Recycle Bin
If a file has been permanently deleted from the recycle bin, there are still methods to recover the file. If you wish to restore a file that has been removed due to any of the reasons above, you can follow the steps in the methods below to try and recover these files. There is no guarantee that you will be able to recover the file for sure, but by going through the steps listed here, there is a good chance that you might be able to.
Method 1: Recover from a Backup
If you have a backup of your system files, this is the first method to use to recover your deleted files. It’s always a good idea to make a backup of all of your important files and even your entire system often. You never know when files might get lost or damaged and by having a backup, you can easily recover any important information and data that you have lost. You can easily make a backup on an external hard drive or use cloud storage for the task.
To recover items deleted from the recycle bin from a backup follow these steps:
- Click on the Start button on the lower left-hand side of your screen
- Click Settings
- Click on the Update & security button
- Click on Backup
- Select More options from the window on the right
- Locate Restore files from a current backup on the bottom of the page and click
- Now enter the name of the file you are looking for. You can search through various backups until you find the most recent backup or whatever file version you need to be recovered.
- Select the file you want to recover and click the Restore button
Method 2: Recover Using Recycle Bin Recovery Software
If you do not have a backup of the deleted file, the only other real option you have to restore this file is by using a third-party Windows data recovery software.
We recommend Stellar Windows Data Recovery as this program makes it easy to recover files that have been intentionally or accidentally removed from the recycle bin on Windows 10. Even if you have selected to permanently remove files from your computer or they have been cleared out of the recycle bin, recovery software makes it possible to restore them.
Once you have downloaded and installed data recovery software onto your system, you can use it to find and locate deleted files. Stellar has a recovery guide that will appear on your screen and you can find the deleted files by following the steps in this guide. If the missing files are indeed recoverable, you should be able to restore them in a matter of minutes.
Note: though Stellar Windows Data Recovery offers a free trial, it’s not a free program and it costs $49.99 to buy the home version and $79.99 for the Professional version.
This is possible because once an item is deleted, its data is not written over right away until that space is needed for other files. This makes it possible to recover the files but only with the right software to help you out. If the file has been deleted for a while, it might not be possible to restore it as it might be overwritten.
Why SSDs Matter?
For a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), when you empty the Recycle Bin or delete some items out of it, you don’t really delete the items.
Speaking from a technical viewpoint, when you store or generate files on your computer, they are actually saved on specific clusters (contain sectors) of a hard drive that is attached to your PC. Once they get deleted either via emptying Recycle Bin, Shift + Delete, DOS command delete or other methods, the file system (usually NTFS) only marks the spaces where those files occupy as “deleted”, telling the system that those spaces are now free to be overwritten.
Once your hard drive volume is almost full, new files will directly take the spaces without any choice. Until then your files are totally deleted. In short, emptying Windows 10 Recycle Bin is just another way to make files or folders “hidden”, and they are still recoverable if not overwritten.
However, the way SSDs work is entirely different. When files are deleted from a solid-state drive, they are immediately erased, and the action is taken by the TRIM command to quickly free up space and make sure the SSD can be quickly reused in the future. Therefore, it’s safe to say that once files got deleted from a PC with an SSD, they are gone permanently.
By following the methods listed here, there is a good chance that you will be able to recover any items deleted from the recycle bin in Windows 10. Remember to always try and backup your important files as often as you can as this makes the recovery process easy and reliable. If you don’t have a backup, Recycle Bin data recovery software is your only chance at recovery.
Have you ever lost items from the recycling bin? Were you able to recover them? Let us know in the comments below.
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.