How to Restore the Recycle Bin in Windows

Before you can recover any files from the Windows Recycle Bin, you need to be able to access the Recylce Bin. But what if it is not visible on the desktop? Maybe you accidentally deleted it, or never noticed it was not there. To restore the Recylce Bin in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, follow these steps:

1) Open the Control Panel from the Start menu.

2) In the Control Panel Window, select Appearance and Personalization.

3) Next, click the Personalization link.

4) In the left hand pane, click the Change desktop icons link.

Change desktop icons in Control Panel

5) In the Desktop Icon Settings window, make sure the checkbox in front of Recycle Bin is checked, and click OK.

Enable Recycle Bin icon

Now you can close the Control Panel windows and make the desktop visible. The Recycle Bin icon should be visible on the desktop, so now you can use it to restore your files and folders.

In Windows XP the only way to remove the Recycle Bin from the desktop is to use a third party GUI tweak application, like TweakUI. So to restore the Recylce Bin icon it is generally also best to use that same application.

The registry key associated with the Recycle Bin in Windows is:


The (Default) entry in this registry key needs to be a string containing the value “Recycle Bin”, as visible in the screenshot below.

Registry setting for recycle bin

If that key does not exist, you can create it using the Registry Editor. When you start the Registry Editor, first make a backup by exporting the registry using the export all option. That way you can always restore the previous backup in case you make a mistake.


How to make a backup in Windows 7

Better than any data recovery software is to make sure you have a real backup of your important data. That way you can simply restore lost or corrupted files from your backup, rather than trying to undelete a file or retrieve a lost file from its original location on disk.

In Windows 7 making backups is possible with the integrated backup software. Below are the steps on how to make a backup in Windows 7 using an external hard disk as the backup medium.

Start the Backup and Restore software from the Start menu.

Windows 7 backup and restore window

Next, click the Set up backup link on the right-hand side of the Backup and Restore window.

This will start Windows backup, which might take a moment as it will look for devices that are present as a backup destination.

Once started, Windows backup will ask you to select a destination disk for the backup.

Destination selection for file backup

Although you can also save your backup to a network location, keep in mind that:

  • you will need to have write access to the network location,
  • sufficient space is available on the location you plan use for your backup (network shares often have quotas assigned to them),
  • the backup process can take considerable time depending on the network speed.

With the destination location selected, click the Next button.

Now you will need to choose whether you want Windows to decide what to back up, or manually select what to back up. Windows will not just back up your personal files, but it will also make a backup that can be used to restore the system itself. That will take much more space, so if you only want to make a backup of your personal files, you select the second option, Let me choose.

Select which files to back up

In the personal selection you will again see an option to include a system image of the drive. Clear this checkbox of you do not want a system backup.

After completing your selection you click Next again, and finally confirm your backup process in Windows 7 by clicking the Save settings and run backup button.

Now you only need to wait for the backup to complete!

Backup in progress

In case you ever want to interrupt the backup, click the View Details button, after which you can click the Stop backup button.

Once you have run a successful backup at least once, the Restore my files button is available to restore files from an earlier backup.

By default the new backup job will run at a scheduled interval, for which you can change the details using the Change settings link.

Apart from saving your backup to an external hard disk, you can of course also opt to store your backup online. Saving your backup into a secure cloud environment reduces the risk of data loss, since even an external hard disk can fail or get destroyed if you keep it with your computer…