How to use the Recycle Bin in OneDrive to restore deleted files

Did you know that OneDrive has a Recycle bin folder, just like Windows does? It uses that folder to store the files that you deleted on any of your OneDrive synchronized devices, for 30 days after they are removed. You can then use the Recycle bin to “undelete” your files and recover them when required. Here’s how to use the Recycle bin to recover deleted files and folders from OneDrive:

How does OneDrive handle the files and folders that you delete?

By default, if you use a standard Microsoft account, OneDrive stores your deleted files and folders in its Recycle bin for at least three days and a maximum of 30 days. In most cases, it will store them for 30 days. If your Recycle bin gets large enough to exceed 10% of your total OneDrive storage, the duration for which they will be kept is reduced. If your Recycle bin does not exceed 10% of your total storage, then all deleted files and folders are kept for 30 days after the date they are removed.

If you're signed in with a work or school account (business account), your items in the Recycle bin are kept for 93 days, unless the administrator of your company or school has changed this setting.

Another thing that you should note is that your Recycle bin doesn't count against your OneDrive storage limit. Once a file is deleted, it no longer uses your available storage space. If you consider the limitation shared earlier and how it works, the Recycle bin is a temporary 10% extra storage space, on top of your storage plan.

The Recycle bin is designed to store both the files you deleted on any of your synchronized devices and the files that others have deleted while you were working collaboratively on those files. It works the same no matter whether you use OneDrive on Windows, Android, iOS or another operating system.

How to access the Recycle bin in OneDrive

If you want to view your deleted files and get the chance to recover them, you must open a web browser on any PC, go to the OneDrive website and sign in with your Microsoft account or business account.

After you sign in, you get to see your files. On the column on the left, click or tap Recycle bin.

Now you can see all the files and folders that were deleted in the last few days. By default, they are placed in a descending list, based on the date when they were removed. For each file, you see details like its name, original location, the date when it was deleted, its size and so on.

How to improve the way you see your deleted files and folders

You may not like to use the default view for the Recycle bin to find the files and folders that you want to restore. Luckily, you can change the view by clicking the View button on the top-right corner of the top toolbar. Click this button and then choose Tiles, if you prefer a view with thumbnails for each file and folder.

You can also sort your deleted items, by clicking Sort and then choosing how you want to sort things: by name, original location, date deleted, size, etc.

How to restore deleted files and folders from OneDrive

Once you have found the file(s) or folder(s) that you want to “undelete,” you need to select them. If you are using the List view, click or tap the checkbox next to their name.

After they are selected, press Restore.

If you are using the Tiles view, click or tap in the top-right corner of the thumbnail of the file(s) or folder(s) that you want to recover. You then see them selected. Then, press Restore on the top toolbar.

OneDrive restores the selected item(s) and notifies you in the top-right corner.

Go to the original location of the items that you have restored, and you will find them there, in your OneDrive app or folder.

NOTE: If you want to restore all deleted items, after you access the Recycle bin in OneDrive, click or tap the “Restore all items” button on the top toolbar. OneDrive then restores everything that you have deleted in the last couple of days.

How to empty the Recycle Bin in OneDrive

Some people may need to know how to empty their Recycle bin in OneDrive. If you need to know too, go to the Recycle bin folder as shown earlier in this guide. Then, on the toolbar on the top, click or tap “Empty recycle bin.” OneDrive asks you to confirm this choice and informs you that it will permanently delete all the items that are found in the Recycle bin. If you want to go ahead, press Yes.

A couple of moments later, the Recycle bin is empty.

Conclusion

Now you know everything there is to know about using the Recycle bin in OneDrive to recover lost files and folders. If you have issues or questions, don’t hesitate to ask using the comments form accessible below.