The worst way is to send to Recycle Bin: you still need to delete them. Next worst is shift+delete with Windows Explorer: it wastes loads of time checking the contents before starting deleting anything.
Next best is to use
rmdir /s/q foldername from the command line.
del /f/s/q foldername is good too, but it leaves behind the directory structure.
The best I’ve found is a two line batch file with a first pass to delete files and outputs to nul to avoid the overhead of writing to screen for every singe file. A second pass then cleans up the remaining directory structure:
del /f/s/q foldername > nul
rmdir /s/q foldername
This is nearly three times faster than a single rmdir, based on time tests with a Windows XP encrypted disk, deleting ~30GB/1,000,000 files/15,000 folders:
rmdir takes ~2.5 hours,
del+rmdir takes ~53 minutes. More info at Super User.
This is a regular task for me, so I usually move the stuff I need to delete to C:\stufftodelete and have those
del+rmdir commands in a deletestuff.bat batch file. This is scheduled to run at night, but sometimes I need to run it during the day so the quicker the better.
Technet documentation for
del command can be found here. Additional info on the parameters used above:
/f– Force (i.e. delete files even if they’re read only)
/s– Recursive / Include Subfolders (this definition from SS64, as technet simply states “specified files”, which isn’t helpful).
/q– Quiet (i.e. do not prompt user for confirmation)
rmdir here. Parameters are:
/s– Recursive (i.e. same as del’s /s parameter)
/q– Quiet (i.e. same as del’s /q parameter)