In Windows 10/11, by default, when you delete a file or folder, the deleted file/folder is moved to the Recycle Bin so that you can restore it back to the original location, just in case you want it.
However, with default settings, the Recycle Bin is available only for internal drives. That is, Recycle Bin is not available for USB flash drives or USB external hard drives. Because of this, when you delete a file/folder from a USB drive, the file is permanently deleted, and you cannot retrieve it from the Recycle Bin.
If you often back up data to a USB drive and would like to have a Recycle Bin for the USB drive, this guide is for you. Unfortunately, as said, Windows 10/11 does not have a Recycle Bin for USB drives, but there is a workaround to enable Recycle Bin for USB drives as well.
All you need to do is make a small change to the Windows Registry to enable Recycle Bin for USB drives.
Create Recycle Bin for USB external drives in Windows 10/11
NOTE: We recommend you create a manual system restore point so that you can restore Windows 10/11 to this date if and when you want.
Step 1: Open Windows Registry by typing Registry Editor in the search and then hitting the Enter key.
If you see the security prompt, click on the Yes button.
Step 2: In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key:
If the Explorer key is missing, right-click on the Policies key, click New, and then click the Key option. Name it, Explorer.
Step 3: In the left pane, select the Explorer key. On the right side, right-click on an empty space, click New and then click DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it RecycleBinDrives.
Step 4: Finally, double-click on the newly created RecycleBinDrives and then set its value data to fffff. Click the OK button.
Step 5: Restart your computer once to apply the change. That’s it! From here onwards, Windows 10/11 will always create a new Recycle Bin folder ($Recycle.Bin) on your USB drive, allowing you to delete files to the Recycle Bin.
To disable the feature, delete the RecycleBinDrives value by right-clicking on it and then clicking the Delete option.
How to check if Recycle Bin present in USB external drives in Windows 10/11
You can use the Recycle Bin to check if the feature is available for a connected external drive. Here is how.
Step 1: Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop and then click Properties.
Step 2: The dialog shows all the drive names and letters for which Recycle Bin is available. If your USB drive is listed here, it means that Recycle Bin is present for the drive.