Impulsive Recycling Disorder

Recycle Bin

Ever since I’ve had more than 500GB of hard drive space, I’ve started collecting trash – that is, not clearing the Recycle Bin. My current Recycle Bin hasn’t been cleared since late December of 2007, and it’s bulging at over 33GB. On my laptop which has barely 40GB of free space, I clear my bin almost every day. But on my desktop, I’ve gotten into this habit of keeping things in there under the assumption one day something in there might prove useful once again. So far, I’ve only had a few encounters where that’s proven useful.

You always see these current affair stories on TV about people who fill their houses with trash, and it’s disgusting of course. Even though I’m quite an impulsive cleaner in reality, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m having the same problem now, in the digital sense. I have so much hard drive space, I can literally keep everything I’ve ever stored on there, without deleting it. That’s quite a scary thought.

Does anyone else have this problem? How big is your Recycle Bin and how long do you keep stuff in there?

32 insightful thoughts

  1. I’ve got you beat.

    You’re talking to a person who has a ton of icons on his desktop, one of which is called a folder called “Old Crap,” which contains icons from the desktop at the time of the last purge. Inside that is another “Old Desktop” folder, and so on, down the rabbit hole….

  2. My Recycle Bin is exactly 0.0KB. In fact, I usually use Shift-Delete, so most items bypass it entirely. With almost 1TB of HDD space, I can afford to store anything I’m worried to delete in their normal locations. Plus, I like it when the icon “looks” empty.

    I guess you could call me a “desktop clean-freak” based on the fact that the only item on my desktop is the (empty) Recycle Bin.

  3. @Nick
    I do that too! creating a folder “desktop stuff” for all those unsightly icons and files cluttering the desktop.

    I delete my trash bin almost everyday before I shutdown.

  4. Just email. Every piece of email ever is saved.

    Sent Items
    Junk Items
    Deleted Items
    Recieved Archives
    Sent Archives
    GBW (School web portal)
    News Letters

    I manually put all my news letters into news letters, GBW is sorted automatically, Connect email is sorted automatically, then each week I move things from trash to Recieved Archives and things from Sent Items to Sent Archives. Inbox gets whatever is important :)

    BTW, I told this story at the Microsoft WinStock along with my folder structure, it got me 50 WinStock bucks 😉

  5. Once i deleted something, and i couldn’t find it in the bin. I didn’t shift delete it, it just disapearred.

    Anyways, i have 13.2 gig in there now, last emptied: 1/6/08ish.

  6. I never keep anything in the recycle bin. I use shift-delete for all files, and there’s a folder I created for anything I might use one day. I’m slightly obsessive about keeping my desktop clean, I have a plain black wallpaper, no icons, the taskbar is hidden and the sidebar is rarely open.
    I know. I used to have the Blue Screen of Death as my wallpaper but people wanting to “help” would hit ctrl+alt+del way too often.

  7. Right now my Recycle Bin on my desktop is at around 2mb and I typically empty it every few days. At work it can get up to a few gigs fast but I still empty it every few days.

    The only one I wait a few weeks between emptying is any one of our servers; just incase.

  8. Gee – I delete stuff all the time and often. I’m always trying to maximize the free space on my hard drive. I’ll delete temp files, unusued fonts, caches, printer drivers, you name it.

  9. I’ve got you shift-delete freaks beat :) First thing I do after a new OS install is tick that little radiobutton that says “Do not move files to Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted.” I’m been doing that for about 5 years now and don’t think I’ve ever regretted it.

    The few times I have accidently deleted something the Undo feature in Explorer has actually worked pretty well.

  10. I got into the habit of Shift-Delete back when I started using the original release of Win95. Considering I only had a 350MB HDD at the time (in my 486SX2/66 with 16MB of RAM *chuckle*), I never saw the need to keep things in the recycle bin; if I didn’t want to delete something, then I just wouldn’t delete it. Basically the same tact I used back in my DOS/Win3.x days. 😉

    That said, I’ve tried to break the shift-delete habit a few times over the years, and actually /use/ the recycle bin, since I’ve made the mistake of accidentally deleting something important a few times. And unlike Shawn, the Undo feature rarely is able to recover a file for me. Maybe I should give it another try. 😉

  11. I have nothing in my recycle bin (I use shift-delete too) and nothing on my desktop. If I’m not sure about something, I normally leave it where it is (Master Devwi, I beat you with 2TB). Actually, the reason I shift-delete most of my stuff is because they’re all old video files that start off at the 1GB.

  12. Shift-delete, I hate the bin… it looks ugly when there us stuff in there. If I wanted it, why would I delete it? Haha.

    Although on that point, a 14-day timer would be cool. So when I click ‘delete’ it goes to the bin and is purged in 14-days unless I change my mind… I should patent that now.

  13. I unfortunately have 25Gb worth of junk mostly WinRar files or images that I no longer need and I probably should delete it but the problem is I am always talking stuff out of it cause I find I do in fact need it.

  14. I dislike the whole concept of a recycle bin. I’ve been disabling the recycle bin from the ’95 days and have always did.

    What’s the point anyways? If you deleted something useful, you can always use a recovery program to get the files back..

    Sure, it may not be a viable option when you’ve deleted something ages ago, but then again, if it’s really important, you already have a backup copy, right? 😛

  15. I used to be really good with deleting stuff in the recycle bin. In fact, even when tossing a single shortcut into the can, I’d empty it. Now? Well, I don’t. My recycle bin is huge, and there’s no signs of stopping. Not sure why really, just can’t bring myself to hit that empty button.

  16. My Recycle Bin is always clean. But I regularly use Previous Versions. Who needs to recycle things when there is such a great time machine inside Windows Vista Ultimate? 😉

  17. I was reading this and thinking… I have the same problem (if it is a problem) but yes, got a 320gb hdd and never delete the stuff out of the trash on my mac.

  18. i do the same folders in folders on the desktop thingee. but my main packrat tactic comes from e-mail.

    just checking the other day and i’ve used 4% of my GMail and 3% of my Hotmail! are you an e-mail hog too?

  19. I go through my computer about once or every other week, deleting everything that i dont want to keep and moving what i do want to keep into a folder where it belongs, like Pictures for instance.

    I have a decent amount of HDD space, around 600 in total but i still delete things such as installers and so on. I have a rather quick connection, so i figure that i can download most things again should i need it.

    My recycle bin on the other hand i clear the second something lands in it. For some reason the “full” bin icon bothers me. o_O

  20. I find myself being what I like to term “digital packrat”. So if you are worried you might need something, attach a cheap external harddrive and move that trash that frequently. But I will warn you, remember, you may have to go through all of it in the future and it just will be a big headache.

    Love the site!


  21. yeah i have the same issue, 2x250gb HDD’s, my recycle bin was maybe emptied 2 month ago as well!

    thanx for the reminder, i’ll get right on that when i get home…mine must be jillions of gigs of crap..who knows, i may find sumthin i need? :-)


  22. I usually end up emptying my recycle bin at around 6GB. I have an unhealthy habit of keeping tabs on my hard drive space, and this is usually the culprit when my space has shrunk a few gigs.

  23. I’m a Shift-Deleter. Don’t like seeing things in the recycle bin. Of course, this has hurt me before when I’ve deleted things that I didn’t mean to, but I like to keep things clean.

  24. @Michael:
    if you think your recycle bin is eating your space, you should run Disk Cleanup every so often. just see how many GBs of space you make.

    @T Man:
    you should definitely use the recycle bin for stuff you’re not sure about. VSC only goes back so far…

  25. Although, it is quite surprising to see how much crap I have kept over the years, especially on old cd’s. I actually cleaned out my junk bin recently and found old floppies. I have not had one in years and borrowed one from a buddy, sure enough, there was old undergrad and grad school emails and papers. 10 years old and immediately went to the trash, never will miss it! I went to being a digital packrat!


  26. Since I work in computer forensics I don’t just Delete or Shift-Delete stuff… I overwrite my files with the GNU-Program eraser. Here some quotes to think about:
    – “We know what you did on your computer last night”
    – “I read your MFT”
    – “Go ahead and delete it..Make my day”
    – Blade Runnerish: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Files deleted and wiped coming back to life. I watched hard drive heads… glitter in the dark of cleanrooms. All those … data will never be lost … in time, we can get it all back.”
    And my favourite: “All you disk are belong to us …”

  27. I’ve got a 120 gig HDD and not much crap. I chuck stuff in the bin and only empty it out every fortnight or so.

    I would use Shift+Delete if it weren’t for several bad experiences a couple of years back in which I (stupidly enough) didn’t actually double-check what I was deleting. But, then again, I’m one of *those* people who’s under the impression that I really shouldn’t need to (read: I can’t be buggered double-checking).

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