Can you connect ArcCatalog to the Recycle Bin on the desktop?

I deleted (not using ArcCatalog) a folder which contained several shapefiles and .gpx files for a non-work related project that I thought I would never need again, but unfortunately I may have to track it down. These shapefiles are unique enough that I would be able to recognize it using the Preview window in ArcCatalog.

From what I have read , the Recycle Bin is a hidden directory but there are ways to show what is within the directory. I am able to connect to c:\$Recycle.Bin using ArcCatalog, but it appears to be empty and I am not sure how happy the IT department would be if I did what was recommended in that link.

It is possible to create a new folder and drag the folders from the Recycle Bin into it and search that way, but I have a feeling I may need to do this a few more times in the future due to reckless file deletion in the past. Also, many of the folders have the same name, and some of the folders within the Recycle Bin are massive, so it would be a time consuming process.

By doing what the article suggested and making the Recycle Bin and its contents visible in Windows Explorer, making a connection to the Recycle Bin in ArcCatalog, then making the Recycle Bin not visible again, the connection to the Recycle Bin in ArcCatalog remained.

  • There is an existing, and Deferred, ArcGIS Idea for an ArcCatalog Recycle Bin that you may wish to vote for. Another Q&A here that may be worth you reviewing is gis.stackexchange.com/questions/107860/…
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 5, 2014 at 1:13
  • Fortunately, I am sure the folder was not deleted using ArcCatalog, so I know it is still around and hiding somewhere in the Recycle Bin.
    – Adam Thom
    Nov 5, 2014 at 17:54
  • 2
    @usertwoseventwothreenine I think that depends more on what it is, specifically the format it's in. Catalog isn't just a file browser, but it's also a database browser. Actually it's not really a file browser either - when you look at a shapefile you only see a single file, not the components. It similarly allows you to 'browse' to the worksheets in a spreadsheet, or bands in an image - something Explorer does not. Putting GIS aside, would you expect a table in a 'regular' database (ie Access) to go to the recycle bin if deleted? Because that's the same principle with feature classes, etc.
    – Chris W
    Nov 8, 2014 at 19:31
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    @usertwoseventwothreenine A feature class is a series of tables in a database. The database can be stored as one file (.mdb) or each table/index/etc. as separate files like a file geodatabase (.gdb). A shapefile is another file-based database - Catalog treats it as such, showing a single entry. I'm not suggesting a Catalog Recycle Bin or linking it to the system is a bad idea, nor that the current delete behavior makes sense in all cases because it doesn't. Especially when it looks like a file browser. I'm not sure why you've taken the comment personally and responded with insults.
    – Chris W
    Nov 8, 2014 at 22:17
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    @usertwoseventwothreenine Well, flags are appearing. Your statements about "lacking in imagination" seem to be personally directed at ChrisW; they don't speak to the issue at hand. That's contrary to site policy, which I urge you to review at the earliest opportunity. Please keep the conversation civil.
    – whuber
    Nov 9, 2014 at 3:20

1 Answer 1


I don't know of a way to do what you want, but I would suggest turning on the System Protection capability on Windows. It's saved me a couple times.

If the folder you deleted was inside another folder, right click on it and check the Previous Versions tab. Find an older date and click on the Open button.

enter image description here

Maybe you'll get lucky and System Protection was on (which might be default).

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