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One of the networks I administrate uses Windows Server 2003 File Shares to provide network storage for users. To prevent against accidental deletion, I use Shadow Copies to create snapshots twice a day. This method is only effective, however, for files which were on the share during the last snapshot. When users accidentally deleted files recently placed on the share, I have no recourse except to remote desktop into the server and attempt retrieval with an undelete utility (this is only effective if the file has not been overwritten).

Is there a feature like the Windows Recycle Bin for Windows Server 2003 File Shares? What is the best way to protect my users against accidental file deletion in this scenario?

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8 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Third party applications like Undelete can do this - but I think Microsoft simply considers a file share as not really a document system. For storing, keeping version control over and handling important documents - something else is needed. Like the mentioned Sharepoint (though I can't say I enjoy the user experience of it) or some other of all the document management systems out there.

You could also check your backup solution and see if you can go to continuous backup instead of daily for the share. Most backup applications these days should have that at least as an add-on. That way, if supported on the server, all changes will be backed up as they occur, or with only a few minutes delay. This is a nice feature to aim at a disk backup system with a few days of history at most - while keeping nightly backups for longer as usual on tape or whatnot.

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If you use GP to redirect "My Documents" to a network share then the recycle bin will be available. –  Tubs Jul 24 '09 at 14:13
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Unfortunatley, there is no Recycle Bin feature for any Network Share on any version of Windows.

It did make a brief appearance in Vista but then disappeared before RTM.

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I don't know of a Recycle Bin for file shares, but this is a place where SharePoint stands out. SharePoint has two levels of recycle bins, one for users and one for admins, that capture deletes before you have to resort to restoring from a backup.

Just something to consider if one of the other ServerFault gurus can't point you to a recycle bin for file shares.

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We use a product called Undelete (http://www.undelete.com/file-recovery.aspx) on our file servers, but we are running Windows 2008. I think older versions of Windows did include a hidden file called a "network recycle bin" on each file partition on the server. But I could be wrong. You might want to check that.

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As other have said it isn't generally possible to have a recycle bin on a network share.

But it is possible to get this functionality for home folders. If GPOs are used to redirect "My Documents" to a network share, anything deleted from "My Documents" will end up in the recycle bin.

This does bring up another issue, that being recycle bins are stored on the network, so you'll need some sort of maintainance plan to remove or empty recycle bins.

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I'm not terribly familiar with the Volume Shadow Copy feature, so maybe there's a technical limitation I'm not aware of, but why not just take more frequent snapshots?

As snapshots, they should be fairly lightweight after the first one, right? If you took hourly snapshots during business hours, wouldn't that drastically reduce the amount of files that didn't make it into a snapshot before deletion?

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I have just find the utility Network Recycle Bin Tool. It moves deleted files from network drives to the recycle bin. Unlike backup software you can restore a deleted file as it was at the time of deletion. You can define the list of network drives or network folders to track deleted files.

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Not to be too snarky but if you have Volume Shadow Copies turned on and are doing all the other standard backup stuff then its time for the user to take responsibility for that one.

I do agree with the SharePoint idea from smearp though. The Recycle Bin is great but I also notice that users treat a web interface differently than an explorer interface. It's like they are more hesitant to delete stuff. Any phsychologists in the house?

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