rifiuti2(1) MS Windows recycle bin analysis tool


rifiuti [-hvz] [-x | [-8n] [-t delim]] [-l codepage] [-o outfile] filename

rifiuti-vista [-hvz] [-x | [-8n] [-t delim]] [-o outfile] file_or_directory


Rifiuti2 analyse recycle bin files from Windows. Analysis of Windows recycle bin is usually carried out during Windows computer forensics. Rifiuti2 can extract file deletion time, original path and size of deleted files and whether the deleted files have been moved out from the recycle bin since they are trashed.

Rifiuti2 supports a wide range of Windows versions, from Windows 98 to Windows 10. The command used for analysis depends on the version of Windows producing the recycle bin (not the version of users' system!), which uses vastly different format before and after Vista:

  • rifiuti-vista: For Vista or later, which is located in \$Recycle.bin\<SID>\. Each deleted file has its own accompanied index file remembering the original path, file size and deletion time. If original file is permanentsly deleted, so is the index file.
  • rifiuti: For Windows 98 to XP, which uses a single index file named INFO2 under either \RECYCLED\ or \RECYCLER\<SID>\ (depending on filesystem). This file keeps track record for deletion status and info for all deleted items, including those permanently removed or restored.

By default, both programs dump tab-delimited fields on screen, which can be viewed on screen or imported into spreadsheet program. -x option instructs program to dump XML formatted content instead.

Index field has different meaning for pre-Vista and post-Vista versions. INFO2 has an index number for each of deletion item indicating the chronological order of items. For Vista version, it means the index file name instead, which matches pattern "$Ixxxxxx.<ext>", where x is random alphanumeric character.

Deleted time is represented in UTC time by default. Under tab-delimited mode, the original date/time format is preserved, while in XML mode ISO 8601 date/time format is used. For example, 3PM at 2014 X'mas represented in these modes would be respectively:

2014-12-25 15:00:00
It would be easier for spreadsheet programs to interpret first format.

File size and file path are self-explanatory, but there are some special notes. File size can mean the real size of deleted file, or the cluster size it occupies on filesystem, depending on recycle bin format. File path might not always be displayable on local system because it might contain characters from other localized version of Windows.


-o, --output=,FILE/
Write output to FILE.
-x, --xml
Output in XML format instead of tab-delimited values. With XML mode, all plain text options are disallowed, and result is always in UTF-8 encoding. See below for plain text options.
-l, --legacy-filename=,CODEPAGE/
Show legacy filename if available (like "D:\Progra~1\"), and specify the CODEPAGE used in the Windows system producing this INFO2 file. Any encodings supported by iconv(1) can be used, though for maximum accuracy of file name results, it is better to stick with Microsoft codepages (such as CP850 or CP1252 for west European version, CP932 for Japanese, etc).

Note: This option is mandatory if INFO2 file is created by Windows 98. This option does not exist in rifiuti-vista.
-z, --localtime
Present deletion time in numeric time zone of local system running the program. By default, UTC time is displayed, which is the time value recorded in index files. Using the X'mas example above, the time for Berlin (without daylight saving time) would be 2014-12-25T16:00:00+0100 in ISO 8601 format.

Note: It is possible to use any timezone of users' choice by setting $TZ environment variable, though not recommended. See ENVIRONMENT VARIABLE section below.


-t, --delimiter=,STRING/
String to use as delimiter (TAB by default). Several escaped characters are recognised: \r (CARRIAGE RETURN), \n (NEW LINE), \t (TAB), \f (FORM FEED), \v (VERTICAL TAB), \e (ESCAPE)
-n, --no-heading
Don't show recycle bin path name, version and header for each field
-8, --always-utf8
Always display result in UTF-8 encoding


-v, --version
Print version information and exit.
-h, --help
Show help options and exit.
Show all help options and exit.
Show plain text output options and exit.


rifiuti-vista -x -z -o result.xml \case\S-1-2-3\
Scan for index files under \case\S-1-2-3\, adjust all deletion time for local time zone, and write XML output to result.xml
rifiuti-vista -n -8 \case\S-1-2-3\
Show tab-delimited result on screen in UTF-8 encoding without header
rifiuti-vista -t '\r\n' \case\S-1-2-3\$IF96NJ3.rtf
Only analyse a single index file and print each field in its own line
rifiuti -t ',' -o result.csv INFO2
Change tab-delimited result to comma-delimited and write to result.csv
rifiuti -l CP1255 -8 -n INFO2
Read INFO2 from Hebrew version of Windows, display 8.3 file names on screen in UTF-8 encoding without header


The following environment variables affect execution of program:

If recycle bin path contains non-ASCII character, these variables affect how they are displayed. UTF-8 capable systems are recommended to set CHARSET=UTF-8 or use appropriate UTF-8 values for LC_CTYPE explicitly, otherwise path might be displayed in Universal Character Name sequences like \u1234.
Setting it to any non-empty value would cause programs to print more debugging output to stderr.
If non-empty, indicate user-specified time zone when -z option is used. Normally the time zone information is obtained from system and there is no need to set this variable. However, it can be used as a facility to temporarily override timezone for some programs, which can be used for situations like constructing timeline event.

This value is OS dependent. For example, for timezone in Los Angeles, the value for Windows is "PST8PDT", while corresponding value on Linux would be "America/Los_Angeles". Please consult manual for your operating system for more info.

Please see BUGS section below for problems when using this variable.


Both programs return 0 on success, and >0 if error occurs.

However rifiuti-vista is more permissive: it still returns success if some (not all) of index files are invalid.


Rifiuti2 is a rewrite of rifiuti, a tool of identical purpose written by Foundstone which was later purchased by McAfee. Quoting from the original FoundStone page:

Many computer crime investigations require the reconstruction of a subject's Recycle Bin. Since this analysis technique is executed regularly, we researched the structure of the data found in the Recycle Bin repository files (INFO2 files). Rifiuti, the Italian word meaning "trash", was developed to examine the contents of the INFO2 file in the Recycle Bin. ... Rifiuti is built to work on multiple platforms and will execute on Windows (through Cygwin), Mac OS X, Linux, and *BSD platforms.

However, since the original rifiuti (last updated 2004) can't analyze recycle bin from any localized version of Windows (restricted to English), this rewrite effort is born to overcome the limitation. Later rifiuti2 was improved to add support for Vista format recycle bin, XML output and other extra features not available from original version.


In very special circumstance (which author can't reproduce now), index file of certain deleted item can be corrupt, causing incorrect deleted file size to be stored. There is no way to report correct size. This problem shouldn't happen after Vista though.

Handling of non-ASCII file argument is not satisfactory; it may not work in certain case under MinGW bash.

Non-ASCII deleted item path name may not be always displayed appropriately, especially on systems with non-UTF-8 locale (such as Windows cmd, where output is restricted to ANSI codepages). Storing UTF-8 result into file with -8 or -x option and then opening it with Unicode capable editor could be a solution.

The calculation of local time might not be correct. For example, documentation of _tzset() function on Windows has this statement:

The C run-time library assumes the United States' rules for implementing the calculation of daylight saving time (DST).
Therefore the time might not be correct in case the files inside recycle bin are produced on Windows using other countries as region settings. Besides, the difference between standard time and DST is hardcoded to be one hour, which is incorrect for a few selected regions.

So it is always better to use UTC time whenever possible.


Report bugs to

Information about rifiuti2 can be found on



Part of the work of rifiuti2 is derived from Rifiuti. Both pieces of software are licensed under the simplified BSD license.


The main author of rifiuti2 is Abel Cheung <[email protected]>

The original author of rifiuti is Keith J. Jones <[email protected]>

Anthony Wong <[email protected]> helped in Debian packaging and was author of the original manpage.