Cannot find document in SharePoint Recycle Bin?

March 19, 2010

Ever searched for a document or list item in SharePoint 2007 Recycle Bin with no luck? You know the document was deleted from the SharePoint site, so why does it not show up here? Here’re possible reasons for that:

  • Are you looking at the correct site? Recycle Bin in SharePoint is site-specific, a document deleted from http://myportal/sites/projects/manhattan will not appear in the top level site’s (http://myportal/sites/projects) Recycle Bin.
  • Were it you who deleted the document? Recycle Bin is not only site-specific, it is also specific for each user. Thus the Recycle Bin contents you see is limited to documents, items, lists and libraries that you’ve deleted, content deleted by other users does not show up here.
  • How long ago was it deleted?  Recycle Bin does not keep deleted items for ever. The default setting in SharePoint is to keep content in Recycle Bin for 30 days after deletion, this can be changed by the SharePoint farm administrators. When this grace period is over, items are moved to the second stage aka Site Collection Recycle Bin.

If any of the above seems to be the likely reason, the Site Collection Recycle Bin can help. To access this, you should have the site collection administrator privileges. Site Collection Recycle Bin shows all the deleted content from all sub-sites within this site collection, regardless of who deleted this data. By default it keeps the data for the same period after it was moved from the first stage Recycle Bin, or until it reaches certain percentage of the site collection’s quota.

Still there can be situations when a deleted item/document does not appear in both site and site collection Recycle Bins. The most common is when a folder or entire list or library is deleted. Recycle Bin only shows the object that has been deleted, with no ability to expand or search its contents. When looking for a document make sure you consider that possibly its parent folder or library can be showing up in the Recycle Bin instead.

Finally, there are site deletes, which are not captured by the Recycle Bin. If this is a common situation in your SharePoint, you might want to extend your deployment with the MSIT Site Delete Capture tool (available at, or looks for 3rd party granular recovery tools.

Same applies to SharePoint 2007 as well as 2010, there are no changes in how you work with the Recycle Bin in SharePoint 2010.

Some useful links and resources for planning and using the Recycle Bin in SharePoint:

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4 Responses to “Cannot find document in SharePoint Recycle Bin?”

  1. Waqas Ahmad Says:

    Thanks Thanks and thanks after searching all day it saved my day. This is a real story, this is my story.

  2. Prashant Says:

    Thanks, it helped me…:)

  3. retrieve deleted files Says:

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  4. vapcguy Says:

    Is it supposed to go to the second stage (site collection) recycle bin, if you delete it from the site-level/first-stage recycle bin? Or does that remove it altogther? I deleted from the first-stage recycle bin and that did not move it to the site collection recycle bin like I might have otherwise expected.

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