SharePoint Recycle Bins – Let’s get it Crystal Clear

SharePoint Recycle bin feature was newly introduced in its 2007 version, and it offers End-users, Site collection admin’s to recover the content with out running behind DBA’s 🙂

There are some confusions among the SharePoint community in understanding recycle bin settings. So in this article lets get it crystal clear.

Two Stages of Recycle bin:

Yes, SharePoint offers Two stages in recycle bins, 

  1. First-stage recycle bin – When users delete Files/List items it goes to the First stage recycle bin. Also called “End-user Recycle bin”. Content in this recycle bin is counted on Site quota, So when you delete a file, it goes to recycle bin, But you won’t get any additional free space, still, it occupies the site quota. This recycle bin is accessible to the end-users, and its Security trimmed (Even a site collection admin can’t see end user’s recycling bins, He/She needs to use “Site collection Recycle bin”  to see end user’s recycle bin.
  2. Second-stage recycle bin – When the content deleted from First-stage recycle bin, its moved to the second-stage recycle bin. Here Items not counted on Site quota, But total space occupied by second-stage recycle bin is based on Central administration setting “Second stage Recycle bin Percentage in Live site’s Quota”. This Recycle bin acts at site collection level, and can be accessed only to site collection admins.

Ok… Let’s explore the Recycle Bin Settings: There are two: Days & Percentage

Deleted Items in Recycle in – Days:

sharepoint recycle bin days

This setting applies to Total Life Time of a file in the First Stage & Second stage recycle bins. (Not 30 days in First stage and another 30 days in Second Stage!!! But just 30 days altogether). Let’s say you set 30 days for this setting. When you delete a file for first time, it goes to the first stage recycle bin, stays there for 30 days, then deleted permanently!

Another example: Let’s say you deleted a file, It stays in First stage recycle bin. After 15 days you delete that file from First stage recycle bin. Now, from First stage recycle bin, it goes to the second stage recycle bin, stays there for 15 more days, then deleted permanently.

So here, The deleted file’s Total Life time is: 30 days. (Not 30 + 30 = 60 days)

Second Stage Recycle bin’s % allocation setting:

sharepoint 2010 recycle bin quota

This setting applies only to second-stage recycle bin.

Where to Configure Recycle Bin Settings?

To set up the Recycle bin settings, we go to: Central Administration >> Application Management >> Manage web applications >> select the desired web application >> General settings

sharepoint recycle bin settings 2010

Want to bypass SharePoint recycle bin ? (Permanently Delete without sending to recycle bin)?
If you want to Turn off the second-stage recycle bin you can choose the “OFF” button there. If you want to Turn off the recycle bin option altogether, that’s also can be done on this page.

SharePoint recycle bin quota:
Let’s do some practical. Let’s create a site with 100 MB and let’s test these scenarios with two 50 MB files, say File-1 and File-2. Let the settings be 50% for second-stage recycle bin. When we allocate 100 MB to the site quota, an additional 50 MB will be allotted to our site for the Second-Stage Recycle bin as per our Central admin setting (50% for the second-stage recycle bin!)

Let’s upload those two 50 MB files File-1 and File-2, then delete those two files from the document library. Again when you try to upload a file, You will get an Error message saying site quota is FULL! because those two files you deleted – still in the first stage recycle bin and part of site quota.

So now in our First stage recycle bin, There are 2 files, 100 MB of 50+50 MB. Let’s delete those files one by one… When we delete the first file from First-stage recycle bin, it goes to Second-stage recycle bin, again when we delete the File-2 from First-stage recycle bin, SharePoint permanently deletes the First deleted file: File-1 from Second-stage recycle bin, and puts the File-2 there.

End-User Recycle Bin vs Site collection Administrator’s Recycle Bin:
Even though you are the site administrator, when you access the recycle bin from the “Quick Links” section, What you get to see is: End-user recycle bin, which is security trimmed (meaning, You will not see items deleted by other users!).

SharePoint Recycle Bin Permissions
You must have site collection Administrator access rights to get the Admin Recycle bin. To view All the items in End-User recycle bins (Items deleted by all end-users), Go to site settings page >> Recycle bin under Site Collection Administration where you will get the End user Recycle Bin items (Which is actually Administrator’s recycle bin with all deleted items of all users. It is the First stage recycle bin) and “Deleted from end user Recycle Bin” (which is nothing but 2nd Stage recycle bin).

URL Shortcuts for accessing Recycle bin:
After the SharePoint Site URL (say: append:

  • /_layouts/recyclebin.aspx  – For End User Recycle Bin
  • /_layouts/AdminRecycleBin.aspx – For Site collection Administrator Recycle bin.

My Related Posts on SharePoint recycle bin:


Salaudeen Rajack

Salaudeen Rajack - SharePoint Expert with Two decades of SharePoint Experience. Love to Share my knowledge and experience with the SharePoint community, through real-time articles!

13 thoughts on “SharePoint Recycle Bins – Let’s get it Crystal Clear

  • So, the only way a document reaches second stage recycle bin is when someone manually deletes a document form First stage recycle bin?

    • Yes! That’s right. When items are deleted from 1st stage recycle bin, they will ne placed in 2nd stage recycle bin.

  • What are the main disadvantages of increasing the retention period or setting it to never?

    • Decrease in disk space!

  • I believe that the exact life time of a deleted object also depends on when the ‘Recycle Bin deletion job’ runs.
    Apparently the default is ‘Sunday, once a week’.
    NB. I haven’t tested this yet.

  • Are you “crystal clear”?

    “2. … or its life time on First-stage recycle bin is over then it moved to Second stage recycle bin.”


    “When you delete a file for first time, it goes to first stage recycle bin, stays there for 30 days, then deleted permanently!”

  • When I delete a document, it appears in my SharePoint recycle bin, but not in the Site Collection recycle bin. I am signed in as a Sharepoint admin. How can I make deleted items go to the Site Collection recycle bin?

    • Updated End-User Recycle Bin vs Site collection Recycle Bin: to answer your question!

  • What if there is no quota allocated? How much space will be allocated to Second-Stage recycle bin?

    • If you don’t set site quota, then You can’t control the size of the second-stage Recycle Bin!

  • you should write articlesfor technet.

    Great job!

    • Excellent article – thanks for sharing and the great writing.


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