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How To Clean a Dirty Recycle Bin

Corrupted Recycled Folder – Symptoms

  1. System wants to run ScanDisk at bootup and admonishes U to "Avoid seeing this screen, please shut down Windows Properly by selecting ‘Shut Down’ from the Start Menu in Windows." U say U did shut it down proper? I believe U J .
  2. ScanDisk will not complete and U discover U can click on "Cancel" and Windows still starts up.
  3. Trying to create a new folder takes – like – forever? It does get created if U B patient.
  4. Running Scandisk in Windows uncovers nothing more remarkable than a few lost clusters. By default, unless U have changed that setting as I have, these ‘lost’ clusters R saved as ‘file00###.chk’ files. {Hint: Do a ‘Find’ on all drives for files named " *.chk " – without the quotes – and feel free to delete them all.}
  5. One or more files may no longer B accessible. U may even get "can not read from drive" type errors.
  6. The Recycled Folder has no file listed; yet, when U click on "Empty Recycle Bin", U get the error message that "…file could not be deleted from Recycle Bin, run Scandisk……"
  7. Fatal errors during bootup. Files not found. Folders renamed {almost like a virus and still as deadly}. Very similar to symptoms of 32 FAT Corruption by a 16 FAT file. Y fatal? Because at this point, a reformat of your hard drive is imminent. Unlike FAT corruption, many files R still retrievable at this point by using any of several DOS File Transfer Utilities.

Corrupted Recycled Folder – What can cause it

  1. Moving huge quantities of data to a drive with limited free space. For example, if U have 14 GigaBytes of free space on a 20 GB drive and U attempt to move 14 GB or more of files to that drive, U risk corrupting the Recycled Folder. On occasion a copy is also at fault, but less often due to the difference in the way files R handled when copying and when moving.
  2. A drive develops bad spots in an area of free space on a drive.
  3. A file U try to delete is located on a section of your drive that has an as yet undetected bad spot. Deleting a file after scandisk has found the spot will seldom cause Recycled Folder corruption - BUT - if the file is a read only file or a hidden system file, the corruption can still occur by deleting that file.
  4. Suffice it to say there is more than one possible way of causing Recycled Folder Corruption. None of them R "your fault". The causes R all due to the way files and folders R handled and recognized by the system.

How the Recycled Folder is created

Your system calculates how much contiguous free space is on your system and then sets aside a percentage of that space as the Recycled folder. By default, Windows sets this as 10%. To check your Recycled Folder size, RIGHT click on the TrashCan icon on your DeskTop then LEFT click on ‘Properties’. So, IF U have 14 GB of total free space and 8 GB of that free space is all connected in one area of the physical drive, then the Recycled Folder would B over* 800 MB in size.

Hence, on Cause #1 above, the moving of large quantities of data {and large file in particular} can cause the corruption. The ‘deletion’ of the files from one drive as they R moved to the other drive can overfill Recycled Folder on the drive the files R being deleted from. This is because the free space is increasing at a sufficient rate to fool the system into thinking the Recycled Folder is large enough to hold these files temporarily until the copy is completed.

On Cause #2, the same method of calculating the size of the Recycled Folder is again the unwitting accomplice to the corruption. When a Bad Spot occurs in unused free space, the system is unable to accurately calculate how much free space there actually is. Consequently, it is unable to calculate the folder size. Windows is a stubborn cuss and sets up the Recycled Folder anyway leaving the size as a variable amount instead of as an integer amount.

So, how can U tell if there R bad spots on the drive if Window’s Scandisk finds nothing and the scandisk being run at bootup doesn’t complete? Takes 2 steps to trouble shoot it and will very likely end up with some data loss. Actually, the data that will B lost is already lost because part(s) of data is already lost on the spot that went bad L The next 2 sections explain the steps to take.

How To Clean a Dirty Recycle Bin

This is the first step and it requires that you START at the DOS Prompt. The Recycle Bin will not be cleaned if this is tried from the Windows Exit To DOS Prompt. U must do a Clean Boot to the DOS Prompt.

{ http://support.microsoft.com/support/windows/readme/Win98se/w98sesetuptxt.asp?LN=EN-US&SD=gn&FR=0#PERFORMING } Microsoft Searchable Knowledge Base - PERFORMING A CLEAN BOOT.

To start with the DOS Prompt, start with the System Off. Then, while starting the system, you will need to either boot from a floppy or bring up the DOS ‘Windows Start Menu’. This is called doing a clean boot. To bring up the DOS ‘Windows Start Menu’, hit the F8 key when the prompt ‘Starting Windows 9x’ appears {or just a bit sooner is OK} just prior to the Windows Start-Up Screen. This menu contains several choices with either choice # 6 or # 7 {depends on system configurations} being ‘Command Prompt Only’ . Chose that one. You should end up at the DOS Prompt

{ C:\> }

or, if booting from a floppy, the "A" prompt

{ A:\> }

Type in the following:


Note the space between Deltree and the C:\. Hit your Enter or Return key.

You will be prompted with a warning that all content will be lost if you delete this folder. Are you sure you want to do this? Say Yes. Repeat for each drive. IE: C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\Deltree D:\RECYCLED ; C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\Deltree E:\RECYCLED ; and so on…. The Recycled folder will automatically be recreated when you reboot to windows.

NOTE: The Recycle Bin that is corrupted may take a while to delete. B patient and let it complete. I would call 20 minutes a patient amount of time {grins}. This occurrence will further confirm that corruption did in fact occur.

That’s all there is to it. The reason it won’t work from the Windows DOS Prompt is because that one starts up inside a Window’s Window {big grin} The Recycle folder is still in an access mode and will give you same error warning as when you attempt to empty while in Windows. {bigger grin}

Now, run ScanDisk with a Surface Scan. This is the second step.

Running an unattended ScanDisk from DOS

Still at the DOS Prompt, type:

C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\SCANDISK /all /autofix /nosave /nosummary /surface

Hit Enter. B Careful of the spaces. I will retype replacing the spaces with an underscore to show them better.

{ C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\SCANDISK_/all_/autofix_/nosave_/nosummary_/surface }

I would suggest U run this at night just before going to bed. IF your hard drive has developed more than one bad spot and if the free space on drive is critically limited, even this scandisk may fail. Deletion of files to free up more drive space and persistently repeating the DOS Scandisk and surface scan will finally clear up problem. I would seriously recommend purchasing another drive and retrieving data while it still exists. Then donate that old drive to your college or local computer trade school. They love tearing them apart to see the innards {morbid grins}. Trust me, a drive that begins developing bad spots is close to expiring. This does not mean that if your drive has one or two bad spots that it is also doomed to a short life. Indeed, I had one drive that had 4 bad spots marked on it and it lasted me well over 4 years J But a regular increase in the number of bad spots and/or over 7% of drive becoming marked as bad is without doubt a bad sign.

Good luck.

Wize Old Wiz

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