How often do you empty the recycle bin on your PC? Well, I often do. It frees up storage space and gets rid of junk files. And there is also the issue of privacy. Especially if you let a lot of files accumulate over time. Some Windows 10 users complain that they cannot empty the recycle bin, which leads to other issues.
There are two issues: you cannot empty the whole recycle bin, and some files cannot be deleted. This is probably happening because you do not have administrator rights or a third-party application is preventing you from doing so.
1. Recently installed application
Have you recently installed an app that can change and control things at the system level? It might interfere with the file / folder deletion process. You can uninstall the app from the control panel, but I would recommend Recuva. This will help to perform a clean uninstallation so that there are no more leftover files in the system. These junk files and leftover registry entries often lead to more problems, including the one you are currently experiencing.
2. Reset the recycle bin
Resetting the trash will give it a fresh start.
Step 1: Open Command Prompt from the Start menu by clicking the Run as administrator option.
2nd step: Type the command below and press Enter on your keyboard to run it.
rd /s /q C:$Recycle.bin
Step 3: Now you will repeat the same command as above, but replace the letter C with each drive that you created on your drive (D, E, etc.).
You would think the recycle bin exists in drive C or wherever the operating system is installed on its own, but things work a little differently behind the scenes.
3. Kill the OneDrive task
OneDrive is known to interfere with the operation of the recycle bin. You don’t have to uninstall OneDrive. Just kill its processes to check if it fixes the Unable to empty trash problem.
Step 1: Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
2nd step: Find OneDrive under the Processes tab, right-click it and select the End Task option.
Can’t find OneDrive in the list? Microsoft doesn’t want you to do this. Open the command prompt with admin rights and give the command below to kill the OneDrive task from there. You can stop any task in progress using commands recommended by Microsoft.
taskkill /f /im onedrive.exe
You can completely uninstall OneDrive from the system if you are not actively using it.
4. Other ways to empty the trash
You can ignore the recycle bin completely by using the Shift + Delete shortcut. This will avoid sending the file to the trash and delete it directly from the disk. Use it only when you are sure you don’t want this file / folder anymore.
There is also a way to empty the trash from settings.
Step 1: Press Windows key + I to open settings. Find Delete Temporary Files and open the folder.
2nd step: The scanning process will take some time. Click Temporary Files.
Step 3: A list of options will appear with a button to delete files at the top. You can empty not only Recycle Bin, but other files as well.
5. Restart Windows Explorer
Step 1: Open Task Manager again and find the Windows Explorer entry under the Processes tab.
2nd step: Right click on the same to select the Restart option. Note that this will close all open windows and sometimes even applications. Be sure to save all open jobs before continuing.
6. System analysis
A virus or malware could be at the origin of this strange phenomenon. The hacker does not want you to delete or quarantine their infected files. One way to do this is to prevent files from being deleted.
There is another application that you can download separately called Microsoft Safety Scanner. However, note that you can only use the downloaded version for a maximum of 10 days. I suggest you get a new copy each time you run a scan.
7. Safe Mode
It will only take a minute or less, but you should be able to empty the Trash by entering Safe Mode on your computer. If it works, then one of the recently installed apps is to blame. Try a clean boot to find out the culprit.
8. Third party application
You can opt for an app like CCleaner or IObit. These apps will perform a deep clean of the browser cache, empty the recycle bin and temporary files. Find out all the options so you don’t inadvertently delete something.
Also on Guiding Tech
Here are some of the ways to empty the trash. Even if you manage to fix it using our solutions, I still suggest you investigate the bug or virus that is causing this problem. If it is a virus / malware, it could compromise your computer. Do you know of any other tips that you want to share with us and other readers? Drop them in the comments below.
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Last updated on Nov 20, 2020
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