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If you want to delete some file on a Windows server or Desktop but you get the a dialog with an error saying:
"This action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program"
Then you need to find out which Program is preventing the file from deletion / locking the file, I've earlier blogged on how to check which process locks file with tasklist or wmic Windows commands
However some users might prefer to not bother with command line check what is locking a file and then killing the Process manually with taskmanager (taskmgr.exe) but do both file unlocking from one single gui interface, that's especially for lazy novice users, gamers and most of Desktop Windows users.
If you're one of those lazy users you will appriace
Unlocker – a useful utility for unlocking files, it will help you figure out which file is using a file what program is using the file you're prevented to delete.
Unlocker is the tool for you if you get any of below error messages, when you try to delete a file:
- Cannot delete folder: It is being used by another person or program
- Cannot delete file: Access is denied
- There has been a sharing violation.
- The source or destination file may be in use.
- The file is in use by another program or user.
- Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.
If you stumble unto an locked file once you download and install Unlocker tooland launch the tool ( in case it disappers in future a mirror of Unlocker tool here ).
Once installed if you click properties over the file which is refused to be deleted you will get a new menu such as in below screenshot:
NB! Beware while installing Unlocker you might be offered to install a bunch of malware (make sure you deselect it). Also Unlocker's site is made in a way so the Download button could easily be confused with some Google Adsense
Click on the file that is being locked and choose the Unlocker button, for example if you have a bunch of Videos installed and the video is being locked by VLC clicking on the file you will be shown VLC like in below screenshot
As you see you're shown the Process PID that is being used by the file the full path to the locking program and you have the option to quickly kill the process or unlock the file. Note that at some cases unlocking a file used by some critical program lets say Microsoft Word / Excel or OneNote could cause you a data loss, so before unlocking a file make sure you know what you're doing.
For more advanced users that still prefer GUI to find out what is Locking a file you can also check out Microsoft Process Explorer (advabced task manager) like tool.
If you haven't tried Process Explorer be sure to take a look at it as its a great tool for Win SysAdmins:
Process Explorer is very handy if you want to explore which .DLL (Windows Libraries) are used by a Process / Program