rifiuti - Man Page

MS Windows recycle bin analysis tool


rifiuti or rifiuti-vista [-hv]

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

rifiuti-vista [-x | [-n] [-t delim]] [-z] [-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 95 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:


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.


For Windows 95 to XP/2003, which uses a single index file named INFO2 (98 or above) or INFO (95 and NT4) under either \RECYCLED\ (FAT 16/32) or \RECYCLER\<SID>\ (NTFS). 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.

Since 0.7.0 version, rifiuti2 output is in UTF-8 encoding only, including the case of writing file under Windows.

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, and <ext> matches the extension of original deleted item.

Deleted time is represented in UTC time by default. Under tab-delimited mode, date/time is presented in format recognized by spreadsheet programs, 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

File size and file path are self-explanatory, but there are some special issues to take care about.  Refer to Caveats section below for more detail.


-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 95, 98 or ME, since recycle bins under these OS don't contain Unicode file name. 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.

Plain Text Output Options

-t,  --delimiter=STRING

String to use as delimiter (TAB by default). Other than normal characters, several escape sequences are also recognised:
\r (carriage return)
\n (line feed)
\t (tab)
\e (escape)

-n,  --no-heading

Don't show recycle bin path name, metadata and field headers

-8,  --always-utf8

(Option deprecated since 0.7.0 version)

Miscellaneous Options

-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 \case\S-1-2-3\

Show tab-delimited result on screen without header and metadata

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 -n INFO2

Assuming INFO2 from Hebrew version of Windows, display 8.3 file names without header and metadata

Environment Variables

The following environment variables affect execution of program:


Listed in order of increasing importance, these variables determine the translation to use. They belong to the group of locale environment variables. In general, these variables are already properly set up on Unix-like systems, while unused on Windows. Please consult relevant document of user's operating system for more detail.


If recycle bin path contains non-ASCII character, these variables affect how they are displayed, in a manner similar to translation related variables described above. However it is not recommended to modify them, as since 0.7.0 version rifiuti2 no more expects any environment using non UTF-8 encoding.


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 Caveats section below for problems when using this variable.

Exit Status

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

In particular, rifiuti-vista would exit with the latest non-zero status when error is encountered in any of the index files.

  1. Wrong command line argument
  2. Error when opening file or directory
  3. Recycle bin data fails basic validation
  4. Error when writing output to file
  5. User supplied wrong encoding for legacy path


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 was only observed in Vista though, not any other versions of Window.

Non-ASCII deleted item path name may not be always displayed appropriately on console. Although great care is taken to display path name as much as possible (resorting to escaped hex <\XX> or escaped unicode <\uXXXX> in case of invalid or invisible characters), the font used in console might not be able to display all characters needed. Dumping result into file and open with UTF-8 capable text editor is an option.

It is always better to use UTC time whenever possible, because calculation of local time might not be correct, especially for non-US users. 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).

Since the difference between standard time and DST is hardcoded to be one hour (which is incorrect for a few selected regions), the file deletion time might not be correct for these regions when DST is in effect.

File size can mean the real size of deleted file, or the cluster size it occupies on filesystem, depending on recycle bin format. As a rule of thumb, if all sizes of entries are multiples of 512, it can be assumed the concerned sizes refer to cluster size.

Reporting Bugs

Report bugs to


Information about rifiuti2 can be found on


See Also

Open Digital Evidence Search and Seizure Architecture project, which contains the original rifiuti tool


Windows 10 Recycle Bin Index Structure, by BlackBag Technologies


$Recycle.Bin Forensics for Windows 7 and Windows Vista, by Timothy R. Leschke


INFO2 recycle bin file example, by Steve Hailey



The main author of rifiuti2 is Abel Cheung <abelcheung@gmail.com>

The original author of rifiuti is Keith J. Jones <keith.jones@foundstone.com>

Anthony Wong <ypwong@debian.org> helped in Debian packaging and was author of the original manpage.

Referenced By

The man page rifiuti-vista(1) is an alias of rifiuti(1).

May 2015 0.7.0 MS Windows recycle bin analysis tool