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Why Can't I Access my Windows XP Recycle Bin?

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/20/2011

The Recycle Bin is a small folder on your Windows XP computer that temporarily stores the files you delete. Sometimes you can't access Recycle Bin settings in Windows XP. Let us see the possible causes and the methods to rectify the problem.

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    Recycle Bin: An Introduction

    The basic aim of the Recycle Bin is to offer you a chance to restore or undelete files that you've deleted and want back later. Recycle Bin is a system folder and is present in all of the partitions in the hard drive, though it is visible only on the desktop. Sometimes it happens that you are not able to access the Recycle Bin settings. There may be several reasons why this happens.

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    Can't Access Recycle Bin Settings Windows XP - Group Policies?

    If you see that you cannot access the Recycle Bin Settings, first of all you need to make sure that the problem is only with the Recycle Bin and not with other System Folders. To find out, click on the My Documents folder to see if you can open it. If the folder opens, this means that that the problem lies only with the Recycle Bin.

    In case the My Documents too does not open, open the Start menu and click on Run. This will open the Run Dialog box. In the text box, type a period (dot) and click OK. This is a shortcut method used by computer professionals. If the Recycle Bin opens with the period command, it means that the system administrator has blocked access to this folder. The system administrator can access any users recycle bin and block it from opening or having it customized by the users of that system. You should contact the system administrator to resolve the problem.

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    Corrupt Profile Restricts Access to Recycle Bin Settings

    You can also check to see if you can access other users' Recycle Bins. To check this out, log off from the current user profile and then log in to some other user profile. If you do not have extra one, you can create it using the Control Panel → User Accounts. Make sure that the other profile you are logging into has administrator privileges.

    Once you are in the different profile, try to access the other user's Recycle Bin. If you are able to access it, your other profile is corrupt. In such case, delete the other profile. You can save your windows related files such as My Documents, Desktop, Custom Settings, and Internet Explorer Favorites even if you delete the profile. Just click on the "Keep Files" option while deleting the user profile. On the contrary, if you are still not able to access the Recycle Bin, the Windows XP Computer has corrupt system files.

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    Checking and Correcting the Corrupt System Files to Access the Recycle Bin Settings

    Hard Drive Integrity: Over longer periods of use, some system files tend to get corrupt or misplaced. This can be attributed to excess downloads or constant freezing of Windows XP computer due to lack of resources. First of all, check the integrity of the HDD. To do this, open the Run dialog box and type CHKDSK /R and click OK. You need to restart the Windows XP Computer to let the Check Disk program run. Once the program checks the integrity of the HDD, it boots and gives you the Windows GUI. Click on the Recycle Bin Icon to see if you can access it. If not, then we have to see if all the system files are in place.

    System Restore: Before you check the system files, you may want to try the System Restore. Open System Restore from the Accessories Menu under the System Tools. Select a date when you were able to access the Recycle Bin Settings and click restore. It may take a while before your Windows XP computer is restored to the point you selected. Chances are that this step will solve your problem. If it does not solve the problem, we need to see if all the system files are in place.

    Using System File Checker: Open the Run Dialog box. Have your original Windows XP installation CD ready. In the Run Box, type SFC /ScanNow and click OK. It will take some time for the SFC to check the presence of all required system files in their respective folders. During the process, it may also ask for the Windows XP Installation CD.

    After the scan, if the scan reports invalid or missing files, you may use the RegSvr32 command to reregister the files. The syntax of the command run from the command prompt is: RegSvr32 filename. You need the command once for each file reported as invalid or missing. Please type the filenames of all the files that were reported to be corrupt or missing by SFC. This may help you.

    This is the end of effective troubleshooting. In case you are still not able to access the Recycle Bin Settings, you have to repair the windows installation. This can be achieved through a fresh installation or a reload Windows XP process. Good luck!