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[ The PC Guide | System Optimization and Enhancement Guide | System Optimizations and Enhancements | File System Optimization and Freeing Disk Space ]

Rein in the Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin in Windows 95 is the "file graveyard"; it is where files go when you delete them. Microsoft set this system up as a safety measure, so that you can easily undelete a file if you find you have deleted it by accident. When you delete a file, it isn't really deleted, it is just moved to a special hidden area on the disk, which you can access by opening up the Recycle Bin. To really delete a file, you purge it by emptying it from the Recycle Bin.

One problem with the Recycle Bin is that it takes up a lot of space. By default, it is set to allow up to 10% of the hard disk to be used for deleted files. On a 4 GB drive, you could be allocating 400 MB of disk space to items you thought you deleted! This can cause you to prematurely run out of free space. Fortunately, Windows is smart enough to detect this and ask if you want to clear out the Recycle Bin when disk space gets low, but this only happens when it gets very low.

I recommend that most people change the default based on the size of their hard disk, and how much security they want for restoring accidentally deleted files. I usually set the bin to use a maximum of 5% of my disk. You can also set different values for different disk volumes, which is convenient if you have a small disk and a hard disk, for example. To change Recycle Bin settings, just right-click on it and then select "Properties". To manually empty the Recycle Bin, right-click on it and choose "Empty Recycle Bin". Simple enough.

Tip: A good idea at the same time is to clear the box that says "Display delete confirmation dialog". This will stop the annoying "Are you sure?" type messages every time you try to delete a file. (After all, the whole point of the Recycle Bin is that it lets you change your mind, why bother with the hassle of an "are you sure?" every time?)

Next: Rein In Norton Protection


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