$RECYCLE.BIN on my external drives


Well-Known Member
I have two Western Digital externals I use for frequent back-ups. I noticed recently, they both have a folder named $RECYCLE.BIN in caps as shown. Last time I shifted some files around and emptied folders, I went to remove (eject) the drives, using the icon in "show hidden icons" on the taskbar, I kept getting a statement similar to "The drive is still in use. Close the folder in use first." I don't recall the exact wording but, the gist of it is, it wouldn't allow me to eject the drive. It was then, I noticed the recycle folder on the external and all the folders I deleted were in that folder instead of the Recycle bin on the root (C) drive. They could have been in both. I don't recall ATM. At this time, I can not delete the folders on the externals. I am allowed to go through the steps to do so but, they remain there.
My issue ... There is no need for the recycle folders on the externals. I empty the bin on the C drive weekly. They seem to be what is stopping me from unplugging the externals.


Principal Cybersecurity Architect
Staff member
The recycle bin is normal on all internal and external drives, it's a Windows feature. It also has nothing to do with the inability to eject the drive. Windows does what's called lazy writing which means exactly what it sounds like. It doesn't get write everything right away, so you just need to give it some time to finish. I'm not sure if there is a way to force it to finish faster.


Windows Forum Team
Staff member
Premium Supporter
you can goto themes in your setting and select desktop icons from the right hand side... here you can ask for recycle bin to be added or removed from your desktop

if you right click the recycle bin and goto properties, each drive can be turned on or off as needed so you could have it on your C drive but not D or whatever
Screenshot (879).png


Well-Known Member
Neemobeer, the "lazy writing" makes sense ... I can remove files from a folder and add them to the folder I want them moved to and a lot of times, it will say "Working on it" instead of "Folder is empty". I kind of assumed (I know, don't assume ... lol) something of this nature happening because sometimes I move lists of files over 500mb at a time. I have gotten into the habit of letting the drives sit there plugged in over night but, at times, it will still not allow me to unplug the drives.
ussnorway, thank you for the suggestion ... I will try this.
Although the Recycle Bin appears on all disks, the actual contents are always stored on the same disk where the file was originally deleted from. If you plug in an external HDD and delete a file from your desktop, then remove the external HDD, it will still be there. If you delete a file from the external HDD, you won't have access after removing it. The Recycle Bin properties is confusing in that it appears to have a choice where to place it, but that's actually to tab between settings for each disk's Recycle Bin, not where all recyclables are placed.

It's not the Recycle Bin that prevents removal of external HDDs. It is the Microsoft Windows Search Indexer, which prevents external storage from being safely removed (feedback at Windows Insider Program), blatantly indexes excluded external HDDs (feedback at Windows Insider Program), and has other sloppy errors such as inner checkboxes becoming persistently stuck in one state regardless of the selection and deselection of outer checkboxes (feedback at Windows Insider Program).

To safely remove your external HDDs, press Windows + R, input net stop WSearch, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter. If it still doesn't work, press Windows + R, input taskkill.exe -IM SearchIndexer.exe -F and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter. 70% of the time, it is possible to remove external HDDs after this.
Also, it's not "lazy" writing. Windows defragments data as it's transferred. Without the memory buffer, disks would need to actuate at full intensity to retrieve contents in the order being written on the destination. With buffered writing, both the source and destination disks can read more sequentially, with rearranging taking place by varying how long each piece of information stays in the memory. The feature shouldn't be removed, instead the progress bar should represent the destination instead of the source. It actually makes transferring quicker, if not for the illusion that transfers take longer to truly finish.