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How to Fix ‘Unable to Empty Recycle Bin in Windows 10’ Issue

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Emptying the Recycle Bin on your computer is a good approach to get rid of useless files forever. This frees up space while protecting your privacy by deleting sensitive files. However, you may encounter a problem where the Recycle Bin refuses to delete your files. To begin with, this can happen because you do not have administrator rights or because a third-party application is preventing you from emptying the trash. The Recycle Bin is the place where you can find all your deleted files. You would use it to permanently delete files from the Recycle Bin or to restore an accidentally deleted file.

But let’s say you can’t empty the trash for other reasons. It could be that some apps are interfering with the recycle bin or that the recycle bin is corrupted per se. Whatever the situation, the blog will show you some effective ways to get your junk working again.

Fix Cannot empty Recycle Bin in Windows

Close running applications

Some apps may be causing your Recycle Bin to fail. A common example of such a program is OneDrive. Closing OneDrive, or any problematic app, could help solve your problem. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Click Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  • On the Processes tab, right-click OneDrive or any suspicious apps you want to close and select End Task.

From here, try deleting items from the Recycle Bin and check if the problem is resolved. If you somehow suspect that OneDrive might be running but isn’t showing up in Task Manager, you can close it through Command Prompt. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Press Windows Key + R and type CMD.
  • Click Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated command prompt.
  • Type the following command at the command prompt and click Enter:
    • taskkill / f / im onedrive.exe

Update or remove third-party software programs

If you’ve tried closing all running applications and haven’t been able to fix this error, you can take a different approach. You might consider updating your third-party software programs or removing them entirely. You can remove applications through the Control Panel by following these steps:

  • Type Control Panel in the Start menu search bar and select the best match.
  • In Control Panel, click Uninstall a program.
  • Right-click on any app that you suspect is causing Recycle Bin problems and click Uninstall.

Empty the recycle bin through settings

Instead of manually deleting the files from the Recycle Bin, you can try doing it through the PC settings.

  • To do this, go to the Windows Start menu> PC Settings> System> Storage> Temporary files.
  • In the Temporary Files window, check the Recycle Bin option and click the Delete Files button.
  • When the process is complete, go to the Recycle Bin and check if there are any files inside.

Restart Windows File Explorer

Windows File Explorer might interfere with the Recycle Bin and make it difficult to permanently delete files. For this reason, restarting it could help solve this problem. Here’s how you can restart it.

  • Click Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  • On the Processes tab, right-click Windows Explorer and select Restart.

Perform a clean boot on your PC

If you’ve tried all the other solutions and still can’t empty the Recycle Bin, you might consider doing a clean boot. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Press Windows Key + R, type msconfig, and click Enter to open the System Configuration window.
  • On the General tab, select the Selective startup option and uncheck Load startup items.
  • Next, scroll down to the Services tab, check the Hide all Microsoft services box, and then click the Disable all button.
  • From here, navigate to the Startup tab and click Open Task Manager.
  • On the Startup tab of Task Manager, right-click each item and select Disable. Close Task Manager when done.
  • Return to the Startup tab of the System Configuration window, click Apply and then OK to apply all changes.

Reset the recycle bin

You might have a hard time emptying the Recycle Bin simply because it is corrupted. To fix it, you need to reset it via command prompt. Here are the steps you need to follow to do this:

  • Press Windows Key + R and type CMD.
  • Click Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated command prompt.
  • Type the following command at the command prompt and click Enter:

Final remarks: How to Fix ‘Unable to Empty Recycle Bin in Windows 10’ Issue

I hope you understand this article, How to Fix ‘Unable to Empty Recycle Bin in Windows 10’ Issue. If your answer is no, you can ask anything via the contact forum section related to this article. And if your answer is yes, please share this article with your friends and family to give us your support.

James Hogan
James Hogan
James Hogan is a senior staff writer at Bollyinside, where he has been covering various topics, including laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more. During that period, they evaluated hundreds of laptops and thousands of accessories and built a collection of entirely too many mechanical keyboards for their own use.

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