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May 31, 2005 12:08 AM

Broken: Recycle Bin message

VerybrokenPtolmey, and several other readers, have pointed out this puzzling activity in Windows. Ptolmey writes:

Just curious, I decided to click "Empty the recycle bin" when the recycle bin was empty. The Recycle Bin, having nothing to empty, apparently submitted itself instead (see screenshot at left). Of course I don't want to delete Windows!


Ya...same with me...this happens with my computer too..

Posted by: Seirab at May 31, 2005 12:50 AM

Wait a second. This doesn't seem possible. At least on my system (XP SP2), when there is nothing in the Recycle Bin, all references to emptying it are disabled or not visible (this includes the sidebar, context menu, and file menu).

Is it possible you just need to patch your operating system?

Posted by: Isaac at May 31, 2005 01:22 AM

Are you sure you don't have a virus or spyware?

Posted by: That annoying-know-it-all-IT-guy at May 31, 2005 03:32 AM

"..don't want to delete Windows"..

Hmmm.. don't see why not :-)

Posted by: peterg22 at May 31, 2005 04:59 AM

yeah I agree with Issac, the context bar goes away when there are no files, I think this might be a fake, with a folder named windows either hidden or dragged under the notification box.

Posted by: Vic at May 31, 2005 07:22 AM

I also tried this, and under XP, if the Recycle Bin is empty, all references to emptying it are grayed out. Which version do you experience this with? I believe this to be a set-up.

Posted by: Allah at May 31, 2005 07:58 AM

In this instance Windows is not broken what is broken is the poster's and other cases likewise that gives you the option to delete when nothing is in the recycle bin perhaps a patch is necessary for those who experience this.

By the way what happens if you click yes? has anyone found out?

Posted by: kent at May 31, 2005 09:34 AM

Believe it or not, I have also seen this happen. It is very, very strange and somewhat disconcerting. A reboot fixes the issue however.

Posted by: Matt T. at May 31, 2005 09:34 AM


"In this instance Windows is not broken what is broken is the poster's and other cases likewise that gives you the option to delete when nothing is in the recycle bin perhaps a patch is necessary for those who experience this."

Wouldn't that then mean that since Windows is giving you the option to delete, it really is broken?

Posted by: a cheesepuff at May 31, 2005 09:47 AM

Well, your computer can do weird stuff when it needs rebooted. Sometimes if you just leave it on too long it'll screw up outlook and stuff like that. I have no experience with deleting OSs but i'd vouch for the Reboot fix. But, can you actually delete an OS? Isn't it hardwired? I'll have to check How Stuff Works.

Posted by: Bob at May 31, 2005 11:12 AM

Yes you can delete an OS, but it sure isn't advisible. The easiest way is to move anything you want to keep off of your hard drive and wipe it. Then install Linux, because you know you want to.

As for the picture, I doubt it's a scam, but I don't know. It is *possible* that if you install something it uses hidden folders then moves them to the recycle bin, and that *could* cause it. I haven't been able to reproduce it.

Posted by: Joey at May 31, 2005 11:36 AM

It knows better...Delete the inferior OS !

Posted by: WindowsSucks at May 31, 2005 12:43 PM

There are three interesting pheonomenon happening here. One is that one can (intentionally or unintentionally) create a strange message in interface element with creative naming. For example, if you create a file with the name of "YOUR MEMORY", and try to delete it, you might get the hilarious confirmation: "ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO ERASE YOUR MEMORY?".

The second phenomenon is that a confirmation dialog appears at a time when it is unexpected. The dialog is made especially odd due to the fact that the developers used a poor choice of words, as described above.

Thirdly, there should not even *be* a link to clear out an empty recycle bin! The fact that most of the time the OS does not display this link indicates this phenomenon is a bug.

Bad design all around!

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at May 31, 2005 12:45 PM

Note: There is a file named "WINDOWS". My sister needed to install windows, so she put it in a CD. Later on, the folder "WINDOWS" ended up stuck on my desktop. I was going to submit a simalar picture...

Posted by: Another Alex at May 31, 2005 01:00 PM

It's possible that there's a hidden folder or file named 'WINDOWS' in the Recycle Bin, but that the folder view settings for the Recycle Bin are set to not display hidden files and folders.

Posted by: Matt at May 31, 2005 02:47 PM

All folders in the recycle bin are vewiable, it displayes hidden folders, and there is no way to stop it from doing so. It is either a bug, or he moved a folder named 'WINDOWS' so that it was in the center of the screen, then clicked on empty recyle bin, and the dialog displayed on top of the folder.

Posted by: Elite Marksman at May 31, 2005 04:56 PM

"Of course I don't want to delete Windows!"

We're supposed to protest broken products, not SUPPORT them!

Posted by: Lukesed at May 31, 2005 05:36 PM

Hmm. Maybe your computer is attempting to commit suicide because it knows it is inferior... You could solve this problem by getting a Mac. ;)

Posted by: Jess at May 31, 2005 08:25 PM


What I meant was that if the os was broken it would be consistant to all that ran the same os obvious this is not the case so therefore its the individual's computer unless of course its a fake as mentioned by other posts.

Posted by: kent at June 1, 2005 03:39 AM

Being a Mac guy in a windos world, I have deleted the OS twice. I talked to my buddy- a Windows freak- and he said that there is some kind of patch... but I agree with jess, get a Mac :]

Posted by: Windows Grave-digger at June 1, 2005 03:46 PM

What's broken is that they didn't delete Windows. I suspect that there's a file called WINDOWS in there somewhere, that's why they left the bottom of the screen off.

Posted by: Chris at June 1, 2005 05:00 PM

I had this problem too ...but i forgot to mention that when i clicked on yes, the recycling bin was unable to delete it.

Posted by: Seirab at June 1, 2005 11:02 PM

I've "Deleted" Windows about15 times now, all to just install it again. Oh, I wish I had a Mac...

Posted by: Jello B. at June 2, 2005 09:06 AM

Well, if its empty, dont empty it.

Posted by: 10 at June 2, 2005 09:10 AM

Long Live Linux

Posted by: EricJ2190 at June 2, 2005 05:19 PM

There's nothing wrong with the hardware. What's broken is the OS you put on it!

who WOULDN'T want to delete windows?

Posted by: LlamaMan at June 2, 2005 05:24 PM

Same thing just happened here. XP Media Center Edition 2005. Deleted some video files off a non-OS partition and emptied the bin. Icon showed it was still full. Opened it and nothing was there. Tried to empty again and got the same message "Are you sure you want to delete 'WINDOWS'?" Too scared to choose YES. Will try a reboot.

Posted by: Whoknew at June 3, 2005 12:18 AM

Seriously, the only reason I have a windows is because it's mainstream. Everybody else uses Windows, so most software, hardware, etc. is geared toward Windows. On a Mac, I wouldn't be able to use my speakers, any of my CD's, etc.

Q: Why do I use windows?

A: Because it's there, and has 94% of PC's.

Posted by: Bob at June 3, 2005 02:36 PM

4 very important things to know:

1. Mac. sucks

2. Apple sucks

3. linux sucks

4. Windows is god over all OS's

Wasn't that simple?

Posted by: Nick Karnbach at June 3, 2005 04:20 PM


Too bad Mac and Apple are the same company.

Posted by: Nice try, Nick at June 4, 2005 01:34 AM

I've never even seen a Linux running computer. What kinds of computers use Linux?

Posted by: Bob at June 4, 2005 09:44 PM

Poor windows, I think its asking for a little assisted suicide.

Posted by: Rick at June 6, 2005 05:04 AM

Of course you want to delete WINDOWS. Mac OS X is much more sophisticated and definatly more secure. Why not move over if you never have to worry about viruses, trojan horses, or spyware?

Posted by: Anthony at June 9, 2005 02:21 AM

Is anyone on this page interested in finding an answer or offer ideas as to why this is happening, or is it just MS bashing? Another symptom of the problem for me is a message that occurs when emptying the bin that says "Cannot delete Do:1, Access is denied...". No such file appears in the bin. Then the other "delete 'WINDOWS' message appears again until reboot which clears it. Bug? No solution, other than Linux :)? Seems to occur when deleting .WME (Windows Encoder), for me at least.

Posted by: Whoknew at June 9, 2005 01:39 PM

Hi Everyone,

It's actually a pretty serious issue for me... I have the same problem. My Recycle bin in Win XP shows that it is full even though it isn't supposed to be. I try to empty the recyle bin, but it says "are you sure you want to delete windows?" Don't worry if you say yes, it will not delete windows, but it will not delete the file either! and this is the problem... believe me I've tried a lot of things! Please help!

Posted by: Rich123 at June 14, 2005 04:34 PM

A possible solution lurks in this thread. I'm off to try it myself - click show all messages, and you can read all the posts including the solution.

Posted by: Delete WHAT? at June 15, 2005 02:11 AM

Sorry guys - if I'd taken a little more time to check, I'd have noticed that the thread above actually points to a windows 98 problem.


Posted by: Maybe not. at June 15, 2005 02:15 AM

Hey guys, just got the same problem after deleting almost 20 gigs off two hard drives. I was confused about the icon until I tried to empty the bin, only to find the same reported problem! Any ideas as to the cause would be great, 'cause I'm a bit nervous about it.

Long live Apple and all derivitives thereof!

Posted by: john tibble at June 17, 2005 08:28 PM

I agree that windows does suck and when i tried to delete it a message came up saying cannot delete windows in use. My passionate hate for windows forced me to try again with same result. However upon the third attempt the "empty recycle bin" was no longer highlighted.

Posted by: Ken at June 18, 2005 08:58 PM

I get this same problem (WINDOWS in the Recycle Bin). It usually happens after I leave my computer on for a couple days and have deleted some stuff from the bin. It's really annoying. After a reboot it seems to be ok for a period of time, but this shouldn't be happening. Any solutions?

Posted by: Windows XP user at June 19, 2005 02:53 PM

This has happened to me too, for no apparent reason, when I've right clicked on the recycle bin and told it to empty. There was nothing in it, but the icon looked like there was and and 'empty recycle bin' wasn't greyed out.

My OS is as up to date as possible, checked for viruses, spyware etc.

Nothing drastic happens if you click 'yes', and the problem eventually disappears.

So yes, it's broken!

Posted by: katharine at June 20, 2005 03:47 AM

I have also been experiencing this problem on 2 PC's, one here at work and my personal PC at home. One is PowerSpec Model 9262 and one is a Dell XPS Gen 5. Both are Windows XP SP2, with all of the latest/applicable updates. I am curious if this is related to Norton in anyway. I have Norton Internet Security 2005 and Norton System Works 2005 installed on both PC's (of course there are many other programs that I have on both PC's) so I am not completely sure of this. I see some of you believe it's related to the length of time the computer is on. I can understand that on my home PC b/c I leave that on 24-7, however here at work I shutdown the PC every night when I leave, so the computer is never on for more than 8 to 10 hours a day. In fact my PC has only been on for 45 mins and I just got the same "do you want to delete 'Windows'" message. To temporarily rectify the "annoyance" you can do a few different things. You can reboot, you can create a few text files and delete them and then empty the recycle bin, or I have found that if you end task on "explorer.exe" and then restart it by going to run and typing explorer this usually clears the annoyance. However, I have yet to figure out a permanent fix to this problem.

Posted by: John at June 23, 2005 09:30 AM

This is a fake. I'll explain, on the photo, there is a list of things to do called "Recycling Bin Tasks" this is only displayed when something is in the recycling bin. I've researched this, nothing I could find in search engines showed me of any such problems, nor did I find it under microsofts help page.

Posted by: isaiah at July 3, 2005 08:10 PM

First, this isn't fake. Why would someone go to the trouble of creating a fake picture just to ask for help? That's ridiculous. Everyone is just looking for a fight. Anyway, I am having this problem as well and it usually occurs after I delete numerous files. I find that by deleting more, it goes away but I'm looking for a permanent solution.

Posted by: kris at July 18, 2005 03:21 PM

For those idiots who think Windows is bad and should convert to something idiotic like Linux, here are a few questions: what software do you use to burn videos, music and CDs? What software allows you to sync anyhting you have with your computer? What software allows you to run ASP, Java, HTML, and anything on the internet? What software can control your incoming calls, emails, alarm system and run auto cad? SHould I continue?

Posted by: AC at July 25, 2005 07:37 PM

are you sure you want to delete 'WINDOWS'. hav'nt the bottle to press yes. also notice that files deleted from computer dont appear in bin even though option to delete without sending directly to bin is not selected

Posted by: bpm wynne at September 8, 2005 01:20 PM

Really. I've never seen that on any versions of windows that I have used. And I have used everything from windows 95 on up on my different computers. When mine is empty, the option to empty the bin is no selectable.

Posted by: Shaun Neff at October 4, 2005 11:17 PM

I have also had this problem several times running SP2 network install. I have pressed yes to the prompt but it doesn't delete anything. I chalk this up to the ghost in the machine...

Posted by: Bob at October 24, 2005 12:50 AM

Is is possibly that you have a prank file downloaded onto your computer? I downloaded a program that promised to create a fake recycle bin, so that I could see what others were trying to delete. When I tried to use it, however, I got a dialogue box that displayed my entire hard drive being deleted. since it was a prank, nothing was deleted, but still....Just maybe.

Posted by: Amish at November 9, 2005 01:39 PM

This is definately not a hoax.

I am not entirely sure what the problem is but on another forum found at one person has diagnosed the problem as occuring whenever you try to delete a file that is in use - whether in a visible or background program. the file will be deleted but your recycle bin will still say full and the link to empty it will be active. When you try to empty it though the message mentioned several times above will pop up: "Are you sure you want to delete 'Windows'?" This is a bug in Windows but it is not serious as even when you click yes it will not delete Windows. It is definately annoying though. I have not been able to find a permanent fix either yet though.

For all you people who are nocking Windows and touting Mac and Linux: yes those are great operating systems and if they ever get the same base support as Windows they will definately take over. However, they don't. So we go on using Windows because we want to do as much with our computers as possible without having to write all the software ourselves. And besides, what do you care if someone else prefers Windows? Is that some sort of personal attack? And Mac users: what are you complaining about? It's already the industry standard in the graphics industry.

Anyways, hope that helps.

Posted by: Someone Else at November 12, 2005 06:11 PM


All of this can be done using non MS software on a properly configured Linux System, should I continue?

Posted by: niche99 at December 1, 2005 02:50 PM

I tried emptying the recycling box when this occured, and it told me there was a file in use that didn't allow me to: DC 9

Does this hold any relevance to anyone here?

Posted by: Me too... at February 15, 2006 02:58 PM

This error message happens because there is a program running on the PC which has tried to locked a file even though the file has been sent to the recycle bin.

When the recycle bin is emptied you should also see a message to the effect of...

"cannot delete Dg1: Access is denied"

Windows XP is not trying to delete the "Windows" directory or a file named "Windows" it has used that name because the file that is locked by the process is unknown.

Try closing as many programs as possible, then empty the Recycle bin, or boot to safe mode and empty it.

Posted by: Poyda at February 16, 2006 09:01 AM

try this, it works for me:

- go to windows explorer->tools->folder options->view->uncheck hide protected operating system files->ok

- then go to c: ->renamed Recycled to any filename.(i.e. Recycledbin)

- then empty recycled bin.

-THATS IT!!!!!!

Posted by: titan at March 22, 2006 09:48 AM

yeah huh

such a fake

you can make a folder called 'WINDOWS'

and trash it than make a big white box to cover it up.

Posted by: joe foley at March 27, 2006 07:27 PM

No it's not a fake... I just had that happen after I deleted a bunch of files... thought it was a virus so I checked online. It went away after I rebooted.


mac sucks now that MICROSOFT is making it

windows sucks but you cant play most games on linux

(only reason for having windows, most other software types can be used on linux)

Posted by: bong at April 21, 2006 06:02 PM

Not a fake. This happened to me twice today.

- Computer had been on for a few hours only.

- Deleted ONE file, and emptied rubbish.

- Icon still showed something in rubbish, but on opening the folder, there was nothing there.

- The "empty bin" option was not greyed out. But when I tried to empty it again, it asked me if I wanted to delete WINDOWS.

- ALSO my HD had not recognised that the file was deleted and so had not freed up the space that "belonged" to the deleted file.

First time I rebooted, but it happened again with my very next empty. So I googled. There is a solution that saves a reboot at this thread:

"Put something in the Recycle Bin. Open the Recycle Bin. Select the file and delete it. Close the Recycle Bin. Voila! The icon is now correct." (and the HD space is freed up in my case, so the file is REALLY deleted).

Posted by: myofb at May 10, 2006 07:47 AM

This happens sometimes for me also. To fix this simply restart or make a new folder on your desktop, drag it into the trash, then go into the recycle bin, and delete it(Not empty), and the problem is solved. The trash is empty again.

Posted by: D at June 8, 2006 11:45 PM

Hey, anyone who thinks this is a fake is a wank and ur comments are not helpfull or needed so keep your nose out. If people think windows is so crap then feel free to stop using it and give back all the things that u use in ur life that would not be around if it wernt for this wonderfull OS.

I got this problem about 30 mins ago, and hopefully i beleive the theory that its caused by computers being left on too long as this one has been on for 2 days, but i cant restart as im running a AV scan just incase. Even though i do hope its something that simple, why is a virus so out of the question? I dont imagine it to be too hard to programa trojen to make such a fault. I got it just after visiting some dodgy torrent and cracking sites that are loaded with viruses. I have an excellent AV, but they aint all perfect.

Whatever it is, its mighty annoying, these forums have some on it..and the second one seems to have a solution.

Posted by: GT at July 4, 2006 11:47 AM

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