Control the Recycle Bin

Paul Staley asked how to control the Recycle Bin's hard drive space usage.

When you "delete" a file, Windows doesn't actually delete it; the OS moves the file to the recycle bin. That way, if you change your mind, you can easily recover it.

You pay for this safety net in hard drive space. A file in the recycle bin takes up as much room as it did beforehand, albeit only temporarily.

You can control how large the Recycle Bin gets before it starts actually deleting the files inside it. You can also turn it off, so that Windows truly deletes files when you click Delete. (That's kind of dangerous, however, for obvious reasons. See Recover Missing Files for other ways to--hopefully--recover files no longer in the Recycle Bin.)

To change your Recycle Bin settings, right-click the Recycle Bin and select Properties. If you're using XP, you'll find a slider bar which you can use to control how much of the drive can be used by the Bin. Vista and Windows 7 users can enter another number into the ‘Custom size' field.

To turn off the Recycle Bin, check Do not move files to the Recycle Bill. Remove files immediately when deleted.

Add your comments to this article below. If you have other tech questions, email them to me at, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.

Shop ▾
arrow up Amazon Shop buttons are programmatically attached to all reviews, regardless of products' final review scores. Our parent company, IDG, receives advertisement revenue for shopping activity generated by the links. Because the buttons are attached programmatically, they should not be interpreted as editorial endorsements.
recommended for you

Recover Missing Files

Read more »

Subscribe to the Windows Tips & Trends Newsletter