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Storing files in the Recycle Bin is not the proper way to organize a computer! It's better to create a system of folders and keep them there.

Hi, Leo - love your newsletter. I work IT for a small, medium-sized business and one of my users likes to use the Windows Recycle Bin to store files to keep them off of her desktop. The files are ones she intends to delete at some point, but often she finds that she needs to go back and retrieve them later so she never empties the Recycle Bin. Is there a downside to keeping files in the Recycle Bin? I personally don't like the idea since I tend to empty mine every chance I get. I've been trying to do some research as to if there's some sort of file corruption that could occur or ways the Recycle Bin could be emptied without actual command by the user to do so, but I haven't found anything. I'd love to get your opinion.

In this excerpt from Answercast #74, I look at the idea of storing old files in the Recycle Bin. It seems pretty dangerous!

Storing files in the Recycle Bin

Well, I'm kind of with you. I certainly wouldn't use the Recycle Bin for storage. That's really not its purpose.

There's no file corruption issue that I'm aware or that I could even conceive of that would result from using it in that way. I'd be much more concerned about accidentally emptying it.

Emptying the recycle bin

There are definitely ways that it can get emptied without your actually directly emptying the Recycle Bin.

Typically, using a disk cleanup utility of some sort will do so. I'd also be concerned about someone else walking up to her machine and trying to be helpful by cleaning up some space and emptying the Recycle Bin when it's not what she was planning for.

Basically, the Recycle Bin files should be considered "deleted." The fact that files are still there is, really, just a safety net and nothing more.

Organize files in folders

If she's got too many files on her desktop the thing to do is to create a folder somewhere else and move the files there.

That way, they're actually in a place that they can be accessed legitimately. When she's finally ready to delete the files, she can move them to the Recycle Bin and delete them there.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

End of Answercast 74 Back to - Audio Segment

Article C6086 - November 29, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Duane Ferguson
November 29, 2012 12:38 PM

I liken this sort of approach to keeping the deed to your house in the rubbish bin. No sensible person would do such a thing.

November 30, 2012 9:45 AM

Hmm, I wouldn't contemplate using the Recycle Bin as storage either - in fact I never heard of anybody using that way before. She should change her habit of doing that since it's not the way to use the Recycle Bin.

I agree with you Leo about creating a folder and use that instead.

Joe F
November 30, 2012 10:47 AM

I once came across a user that was using C:\Temp for storage. Their files were "mysteriously" disappearing. Wonder why?

Alex Dow
November 30, 2012 11:33 AM

Isn't there a limit to the capacity of the Recycle Bin, which when reached, will fully DELETE the oldest files progressively, so that if the lady continues to use it in the present manner, she will inadvertently lose them over time?

In effect, Joe F confirms the situation.

November 30, 2012 11:37 AM

Assuming this user's business has some sort of back up routine, does the recycle bin get backed up?

Probably not, so restoring from a back up is another way the recycle bin gets emptied.

Depends on the type of backup. An image backup (my preference) would backup *everything*, Recycle Bin included.

Billy Bob
December 2, 2012 4:57 PM

Storing files in the recycle bin? Seriously? This almost sounds like a derogatory "women computer users" story.

It reminds me of the old urban legend about the woman driver whose car ran rough whenever she would drive it, but ran fine for her husband. Turns out she was pulling out the choke knob to hang her purse on it.

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