Deleting Files That Are in Use

Category: Quickies


I have some files on my computer that I want to get rid of but they just won't delete. I have tried deleting them in safe mode & still no joy. Every time I try to delete them it says they are being used by another program or process. How can I delete these files?


If you are still unable to delete the files in Safe Mode, the next step is to try booting into a DOS prompt. (Note: This is different than opening a Command Prompt while running Windows.) Boot your system with the Windows XP CDROM, then choose "Recovery Console".

This article was posted by on 29 Jul 2005

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Most recent comments on "Deleting Files That Are in Use"

Posted by:

10 Aug 2005

Try "WhoLockMe" Explorer Extension. It permeets you to list all the process locking your selected file. This freeware is a beta version, it Doesn't work on Win9x or WinMe. You can get it many places, here is the Author's download site:

Posted by:

10 Aug 2005

When you figure out what program is accessing the file with WhoLockMe?, you can hit ctrl+shift+esc to bring up task manager and end the offending task. If it's something that won't end or you don't want to end, then you can set up the computer to delete it at the next boot. Download and install the Startup Control Panel and rjhExtensions:

Right click on the file and in the rjhExtensions context menu, pick path to clipboard. Then open the Startup Control Panel and add an entry into your Run Once tab. Use anything for the program's name and in the path to the program type 'del ' and hit ctrl+v to paste the path to the program. For example, if your offending file is on your desktop, then the command would be 'del "C:\Documents and Settings\WinUser\Desktop\"' where WinUser is your Windows user name. Notice how the path is enclosed in double quotes? That's because it conatins a space and paths or files containing spaces must always be enclosed in double quotes. If the path to your file contains spaces, put it in double quotes, okay? Ever wonder why there isn't a tool that does this?

After commands in the Run Once area are executed at boot, they are removed, so it won't run every time the system boots.

Posted by:

10 Aug 2005

'Unlocker' is a freeware app for Windows 2000 and XP (not beta). Version 1.7.0 is available at the author's website:
Just pick 'download' and you're on your way. This app is excellent; I've used it many times before with 100% success. This app is small in size and it WORKS!

Posted by:

Steve G.
10 Aug 2005

This has been a recurring problem for me, and the Internet has tons of suggestions but none have worked. Lo and behold, I have finally figured out how to delete those pesky, "undeletable" files!

Here's how: Boot in safe mode. Right click on the file, and go to the securities tab. Change the permissions to the administrator. There are tons of things to click and it's a pain to figure it out. Just by trial and error. You'll get a series of boxes to check for permissions. Check them all!! One is giving yourself the permission to delete the file.

Close the permissions panel and try deleting (in safe mode). It WILL work. Be patient, and click around in the various options until it works. If, when you go back to the file that wouldn't delete in regular mode, you find that you are then barred from going into the folder where you had the offending file, go BACK into safe mode and set the permissions back to you, the user, not the administrator.

Is this clear as mud. I can't be more explicit because the panel where the permissions are located was designed by a madman. But trust me, patience pays off. E-mail me privately if you need further encouragement!

Steve G.

Posted by:

10 Aug 2005

Hi All! Visit this page:

There you will find directions and a small application (MOVEONBOOT) that will allow you do move, or delete this file. My suggestion is that you carefully note the name and location of the file in question - then Move and Rename it - before deleting it. That way if it is "an important system file" you can (hopefully) change it's name back and stick it where it belongs if something breaks. -- Mike

Posted by:

11 Aug 2005

I had a related problem with a folder that I would delete and it kept coming back every time I logged out and in again. Turns out I had designated that folder as the container for shared files in AIM and I had forgotten this. Once I went into AIM and removed the location, then deleted the folder again, this time it stayed deleted. Another Homer Simpson moment... :-)

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Deleting Files That Are in Use (Posted: 29 Jul 2005)
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