I have added an extra hard-drive to my computer (I only have Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS on the machine) and formatted it as ext3/ext4. I can delete file from the drive but I can't delete the files from trash so I can't free up space on the drive.

When I try delete from the trash I just get the error message: "Error while deleting ... Failed to delete the item from the trash."

I don't know if I did something wrong when I formatted the drive or what? but I don't really want to have to reformat the drive every time I need to free up space on the drive.

Any help would be appreciated

  • You can definitely delete any file with SHIFT+Delete and it won't go to the trash bin. But there's something wrong with your system and I suspect there's info missing. The way you posted it gives the feeling you don't know that much about what you're doing. Case in point: formatted it as ext3/ext4... So, which one? It can't be both and users with just a little experience would know that and would know the exact file system they chose. Not the problem anyway, it just suggests there's more to the story like e.g. how old is that drive and have you checked for defects already? – user692175 Aug 12 '17 at 8:12
  • Thank you Michael! The "SHIFT-Delete" worked on a file and then suddenly I could clear the trash. – user2436734 Aug 12 '17 at 8:44

Sorry for the late reply. I just ran into this myself.

I have Ubuntu 16.04 and USB drives of various types: EXT4 SSD in a cheap USB enclosure; ExFat(?) Samsung T1; VFAT SanDisk thumb drives.

I found that when I delete files in the GUI, they go into a .Trash-1000 directory on that removable drive. When the trash is emptied, the file contents of .Trash-1000 are removed (the empty .Trash-1000 directory structure remains).

If you can't empty the trash using the GUI (as described in the OP's post) you can simply delete that .Trash-1000 directory and the next time you delete a file with the GUI empty trash should work once again.


root@thinkPad:~# df
Filesystem          1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
udev                  3513316         0   3513316   0% /dev
tmpfs                  706844      9676    697168   2% /run
/dev/mapper/vg-root 515930552 417191728  77500580  85% /
tmpfs                 3534200     23116   3511084   1% /dev/shm
tmpfs                    5120         4      5116   1% /run/lock
tmpfs                 3534200         0   3534200   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sda2              264676     32924    231752  13% /boot/efi
cgmfs                     100         0       100   0% /run/cgmanager/fs
tmpfs                  706844        96    706748   1% /run/user/1000
/dev/sdb1           121277504    141024 121136480   1% /media/tommy/SAN128G1

root@thinkPad:~# mount | grep SAN128
/dev/sdb1 on /media/tommy/SAN128G1 type vfat (rw,nosuid,nodev,relatime,uid=1000,gid=1000,fmask=0022,dmask=0022,codepage=437,iocharset=iso8859-1,shortname=mixed,showexec,utf8,flush,errors=remount-ro,uhelper=udisks2)

root@thinkPad:~# cd /media/tommy/SAN128G1

root@thinkPad:/media/tommy/SAN128G1# ls -l
total 65668
drwxr-xr-x  5 tommy tommy    32768 Dec 15 08:30 ./
drwxr-x---+ 3 root  root      4096 Dec 15 08:13 ../
drwxr-xr-x  2 tommy tommy    32768 Sep  3 06:05 bin/
drwxr-xr-x  3 tommy tommy    32768 Dec 31  2011 DCIM/
drwxr-xr-x  6 tommy tommy    32768 Aug 16 17:24 Share/
-rw-r--r--  1 tommy tommy 67108864 Sep 11 11:01 swapfile

Then I deleted bin/ share/ and swapfile using the GUI. It moves them to within .Trash-1000.

root@thinkPad:/media/tommy/SAN128G1# ls -l
total 100
drwxr-xr-x  4 tommy tommy 32768 Dec 15 08:31 ./
drwxr-x---+ 3 root  root   4096 Dec 15 08:13 ../
drwxr-xr-x  3 tommy tommy 32768 Dec 31  2011 DCIM/
drwxr-xr-x  4 tommy tommy 32768 Dec 15 08:31 .Trash-1000/

Emptying the trash deletes the actual files (as mentioned earlier, the .Trash-1000 directory structure remains, I guess for future use).

But you can delete the entire .Trash-1000 directory and the GUI "moved to trash" files will be deleted, e.g.:

root@thinkPad:~# rm -rf /media/tommy/SAN128G1/.Trash-1000/

This is, like "empty trash", non-reversible. Be careful typing! Empty trash using the GUI should work from this point forward.

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