Delete an object from a SharePoint Recycle Bin

When you delete most objects in SharePoint, they’re moved to one of two Recycle Bins: one bin for the site or workspace, and the other for the entire site collection. The Recycle Bins provide a safety net from which deleted objects can be restored.

By default, objects are automatically deleted from each of the Recycle Bins after a specified number of days.

But sometimes, you might want to delete objects manually from the Recycle Bins before the specified days have passed — to prevent the object from being viewed or restored by other people, for example, or just to free up space.

This article explains how you can delete SharePoint objects from the Recycle Bins. (To learn about restoring objects from the Recycle Bins, see the article Restore a deleted object from a SharePoint Recycle Bin.)

What we mean by an ‘object’    In this article, we use the word object as a generic term for any entity in SharePoint — a file or list item, a folder or Document Set, a list or library, a site, a site collection, etc. Most types of objects can contain other objects. (A site can contain lists and libraries, for example, and a library can contain files, folders, and Document Sets.) When we talk about an object’s ‘container’, we just mean the object that contains it — which may itself be contained inside of yet another object.

SharePoint structure showing locations of Recycle Bins

1. Site or workspace Recycle Bin

2. Site Collection Recycle Bin

Important: 

  • If you don’t see a Recycle Bin    The Recycle Bin might have been disabled. Talk with your farm or server administrator.

  • SharePoint, not Windows    This article applies to the Recycle Bins in SharePoint, which are different from the Recycle Bin in Windows. For information about the Recycle Bin in Windows, search Windows Help.

What do you want to do?

Learn about the two SharePoint Recycle Bins

Where deleted objects go

The Recycle Bin for an individual site or workspace

The Recycle Bin for an entire site collection

Delete an object from a Recycle Bin

Delete an object that you yourself initially deleted

Delete any object from either Recycle Bin

Learn about the two SharePoint Recycle Bins

This section provides an overview of how the SharePoint Recycle Bins work.

Where deleted objects go

Different types of objects go to different places when you first delete them in SharePoint:

Objects deleted from inside of a site or workspace   
When you delete a list, library, folder, Document Set, file, file version, or list item from inside of a site or workspace:

  • The deleted object is moved to the Recycle Bin for that site or workspace (also called the first-stage Recycle Bin or end user Recycle Bin), where it remains for a set number of days or until you delete it manually. Then the object is moved to the Site Collection Recycle Bin (also called the second-stage Recycle Bin or Site Collection Administration Recycle Bin).

  • In the Site Collection Recycle Bin, the deleted object again remains for a set number of days or until you delete it manually. This time, though, the object is deleted permanently.
    (By default, each of the Recycle Bins keeps deleted items for 30 days; but this setting can be changed in Central Administration. If you have questions, talk with your farm or server administrator.)

Deleted sites and workspaces   
When you delete an entire site or workspace, it’s moved directly to the Site Collection Recycle Bin. (The Recycle Bin for the individual site or workspace is no longer available at that point, because it too has been deleted.)

Important:  This is true only in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 with Service Pack 1. In earlier versions of SharePoint, a deleted site or workspace is not moved to either of the Recycle Bins.

Deleted site collections   
When you delete an entire site collection, it’s moved to another location altogether — because the Site Collection Recycle Bin is deleted along with the site collection.

The Recycle Bin for an individual site or workspace

Contributors, owners, and site collection administrators can access the Recycle Bin for an individual site or workspace, and can restore or delete objects from it. Under the SharePoint default settings:

  • A contributor or owner can view, restore, and delete only objects that she or he has deleted from the site or workspace.

  • Site collection administrators, using their own separate access, can view, restore, and delete all objects.

The Recycle Bin for an entire site collection

Under the SharePoint default settings, only site collection administrators have access to the Site Collection Recycle Bin, so only they can view, restore, and delete objects there.

Following you’ll find a graphic version of the basic flow for both Recycle Bins, as well as a table of who can do what in deleting and restoring. Both are based on the default settings in SharePoint.

Flow of objects between site and Recycle Bins

Who Can Do What?

Deleting and restoring

Contributor

Owner

Site Collection Administrator

Inside of a site or workspace

Delete objects stored in lists or libraries

X

X

X

Delete whole lists and libraries

X

X

Delete the entire site or workspace

X

X

In the Recycle Bin for a site or workspace

View/restore/delete objects that they deleted *

X

X

X

View/restore/delete all in-site objects

X

In the Site Collection Recycle Bin

View/restore/delete all in-site objects

X

View/restore/delete sites and workspaces **

X

When a site collection has been deleted

Restore site collections (using PowerShell) **

X

* The exceptions are sites and workspaces, which are moved directly to the Site Collection Recycle Bin.

** Direct restoration of sites, workspaces, and site collections requires SharePoint Server with Service Pack 1.

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Delete an object from a Recycle Bin

First, something to keep in mind whenever you delete any object that contains other objects:

  • Deleted objects take all of their contents with them   
    When you delete an object that contains other objects, the objects that it contains are deleted along with it — as parts of it, and not as separately restorable items. This is true both when the containing object is first deleted from the site and again when it’s deleted from each of the Recycle Bins. So if the object that you want to delete contains an object that you want to retain, make sure that you have a copy of the object that you want to retain in some other location before you perform the deletion.

Delete an object that you yourself initially deleted

Contributors, owners, and site collection administrators can all perform this procedure.

To delete a list, library,folder, Document Set, file, file version, or list item that you yourself initially deleted:

  1. Click Recycle Bin on the Quick Launch.

    Note:  If you don’t see the Recycle Bin, it might have been disabled. Talk with your farm or server administrator.

  2. Locate the object that you want to delete.

    Note:  If the object isn’t present, it might already have been manually or automatically moved from the site or workspace Recycle Bin to the Site Collection Recycle Bin. For instructions on deleting objects from the Site Collection Recycle Bin, see the following subsection (Delete any object from either Recycle Bin).

  3. Select the check box next to the object that you want to delete, and then click Delete Selection.

Delete any object from either Recycle Bin

Only site collection administrators can perform this procedure.

To delete any object from either Recycle Bin:

  1. Click Recycle Bin on the Quick Launch.

    Note:  If you don’t see the Recycle Bin, it might have been disabled. Talk with your farm or server administrator.

  2. On the Site or Workspace Name Recycle Bin page, above the list of deleted objects, click the Site Collection Recycle Bin link.
    Site Collection Recycle Bin link

  3. On the Site Collection Administration Recycle Bin page, under Select a View, make sure that End user Recycle Bin items is selected.
    End user Recycle Bin items selected

  4. Locate the object that you want to restore.

    Note:  If you don’t see the object, it might already have been manually or automatically moved from the site or workspace Recycle Bin to the Site Collection Recycle Bin. To view the Site Collection Recycle Bin, select the Deleted from end user Recycle Bin view instead. (If you still don’t see the object, it might already have been permanently deleted, either manually or automatically. If you have questions about the automatic deletion settings, talk with your farm or server administrator.)

  5. Select the check box next to the object that you want to delete, and then click Delete Selection.

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