How To Delete A File “Being Used by Another Program”

If you have ever tried to delete a file or program but get an error message that you “cannot delete file: access is denied,” you know how frustrating these and related error messages can be. These error messages occur due to file-access restrictions that are intended to prevent you from moving, deleting, or renaming a file program, which is in the best interest of the stability of your computer. Though you may sometimes have made a simple error such as leaving the file open when moving it, or actually having a full or write-protected disk, Windows may have the file or related program open in the background and you and need to force the release of this file-access restriction.

Unlocker is a great to to delete a file being used by another program

A great way to delete a file being used by another program is releasing file-access restrictions using Unlocker. Unlocker is a free program for Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Server 2008, and Windows 7 that allows users to simply right-click on the problem file to and select Unlocker to access its tools. When right-clicking on the file, and Unlocker is selected, information about the selected file, such as Path Locked, PID, Handle, and Process Path appear. Unlocker Assistant also features the ability to terminate a currently running process, which may be what is preventing the file from opening. Additionally, if the file won’t open due to a message that the file is currently in use (even if it isn’t), Unlocker Assistant can bypass this bug in Windows restriction and will unlock or disable whatever is preventing your access to the file. Using these tools from Unlocker can help you delete a file that be being used by another program — even if you don’t know exactly which program.

You may also want to run a virus check to make sure that the file you want to delete, but is being held open by another program, is not being done so by malware. If you find that your files are often held hostage in the background, consider running a virus scan to detect trojans, malware, and spyware that may be affecting your ability to delete files. If using a program like Unlocker doesn’t work, clearing your computer of malware may help you finally be able to delete that file “Being Used by Another Program.”

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  • http://profiles.google.com/donjrose Donald Rose

    Ah, no, before M$oft took out access to the autoexec bat file you could easily change one of 4 flags, associated with every file and do this without external software. I imagine you can still do this. On the whole this is inferior to what was around 20 years ago. You are being suckered for money. The more often you pay for this kind of thing, the more often they will find other ways to shake you down for cash. Go to DOS. Or Linux. Windows is a whale that seriously needs a Capt. Ahab. Just look at the overall size of the space required for both operating systems.

    • http://twitter.com/codespace Timothy B. McNeil

      DOS? Seriously?

      You’re aware that this is 2011, right?

  • http://profiles.google.com/donjrose Donald Rose

    Ah, no, before M$oft took out access to the autoexec bat file you could easily change one of 4 flags, associated with every file and do this without external software. I imagine you can still do this. On the whole this is inferior to what was around 20 years ago. You are being suckered for money. The more often you pay for this kind of thing, the more often they will find other ways to shake you down for cash. Go to DOS. Or Linux. Windows is a whale that seriously needs a Capt. Ahab. Just look at the overall size of the space required for both operating systems.

    • http://twitter.com/codespace Timothy B. McNeil

      DOS? Seriously?

      You’re aware that this is 2011, right?

  • anon

    You can also close any programs that would likely have a handle
    open to the file.  For instance, if it is a microsoft word file, close
    microsoft word.

    If you want to be lazy, you can reboot and see if that fixes it.  A lot of the time it will.

    Power users can use “process explorer” which is a Microsoft PowerTool originally written by the SysInternals group.  You can “search by handle” using the filename in question, then once found, “Delete Handle” will close the handle the process has to the file which will allow you to delete the file.  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653

  • anon

    You can also close any programs that would likely have a handle
    open to the file.  For instance, if it is a microsoft word file, close
    microsoft word.

    If you want to be lazy, you can reboot and see if that fixes it.  A lot of the time it will.

    Power users can use “process explorer” which is a Microsoft PowerTool originally written by the SysInternals group.  You can “search by handle” using the filename in question, then once found, “Delete Handle” will close the handle the process has to the file which will allow you to delete the file.  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653