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How to Enable the Recycle Bin on Removable Drives

You can enable the Recycle Bin for removable drivers on Windows for having an extra protection from accidental removal of files. By default, Windows doesn't create the Recycle Bin area for USB sticks and other removable media, but you can easily change that.

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The Recycle Bin is a special system folder the you can access by clicking the Desktop icon if it is not hidden. It is a virtual folder that represents several physical hidden folders on each of the internal drives and partitions. Once you delete a file or folder, it goes to the appropriate physical folder on the drive that contained the deleted item.

When you open the Recycle Bin folder, it displays everything you have deleted in a single view. You can re-arrange the entries by date, name, the original location, etc. But the main purpose of Recycle Bin is to provide you the ability to quickly restore removed files. This becomes gold if you have accidentally removed some important document or folder.

To make the Recycle Bin available to all drives, including removable USB drives, you need to make a small change in Windows Registry. There is a key responsible for the list of disks that must have a hidden system folder "Recycle Bin".

Enable Recycle Bin for Removable Drives

To enable the Recycle Bin for removable drives, do the following.

  1. Press the Win + R shortcut, and type regedit in the Run dialog box.Run Regedit
  2. Open the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer.
  3. In the right pane, right-click the empty space and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value and name the new value RecycleBinDrives.Create New Dword 32 Bit Value
  4. Finally, double-click it and set the RecycleBinDrives value data to ffffffff in hexadecimal.Enable Recycle Bin For Removable Drives
  5. Restart Windows 11 to apply the change.

You are done!

From now Windows will create a hidden system folder $RECYCLE.BIN on flash drives you connect to your device.

Recycle Bin On Removable USB Drive

It will store the files you deleted from the flash drive. Note that to see it in File Explorer, you must make it show both hidden and system protected files.

Its functionality won't be different from regular drives. It will follow the settings you set for the Recycle Bin, including the total size of the Recycle Bin for a drive. You can restore files from the recycle bin on a flash drive using the File Explorer app, in the familiar way.

If you open the properties of the Recycle bin through the icon on the desktop, you can choose its maximum size for any of the connected flash drives.

Usb Disk In Recycle Bin Properties

Finally, to undo the change, simply remove the RecycleBinDrives value reviewed above.

For users who are not convenient with Registry editing, I have prepared a couple of Registry files.

Download Registry files

Click here to download the ZIP archive with two REG files, and extract them to any folder of your choice.

Double-click the Enable Recycle Bin for Removable Drives.reg file to enable the functionality for flash disk.

Respectively, the Disable Recycle Bin for Removable Drives.reg tweak will restore defaults and undo the change.

That's it.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

7 thoughts on “How to Enable the Recycle Bin on Removable Drives”

  1. Edited the registry (Win11) both manually and with your action. The file “$RECYCLE.BIN” shows up on my thumb drive and is listed in the “Recycle Bin Properties” – however it doesn’t capture any deleted files on the thumb drive ! I rebooted my PC several times. Any ideas?

      1. What do you mean enabled for this drive? I thought if the file “$RECYCLE.BIN” shows up on my thumb drive AND is listed in the “Recycle Bin Properties” means it’s enabled.

        1. What do you mean enabled for this drive? I thought if the file “$RECYCLE.BIN” shows up on my thumb drive AND is listed in the “Recycle Bin Properties” means it’s enabled.

  2. What do you mean enabled for this drive? I thought if the file “$RECYCLE.BIN” shows up on my thumb drive AND is listed in the “Recycle Bin Properties” means it’s enabled.

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