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What is the windows equivalent of rm -r [directory-name]?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 160 down vote accepted

deltree if I remember my DOS.

It seems it's been updated... this is what you want:


This removes the directory C:\test, with prompts :

rmdir c:\test /s

This does the same, without prompts :

rmdir c:\test /s /q

Regarding the sudo part of your question, if you need more priviliges, you can first open a new shell as another user account using the runas command, like this:

runas /user:Administrator cmd
rmdir c:\test /s /q
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hmm . . . doesn't work for me. –  Eric Wilson Aug 23 '10 at 19:32
@FarmBoy, apologies, it would seem my memories go far too far back. I've updated the answer for Windows XP and newer. –  Colin Pickard Aug 23 '10 at 19:36
yes deltree is an old DOS command. It was removed in XP and replaced by rmdir /s –  heavyd Aug 23 '10 at 19:39
What does the /s flag stand for? –  Mike R Mar 23 at 15:45
@MikeR, it might stand for "subdirectories" or something. findstr has the same parameter, which makes more sense it its case, so maybe they're just the same for consistency. –  Sam May 6 at 23:58

You can do the following in PowerShell, if you're on Windows Vista+ :

rm C:\path\to\delete -r -f
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Simply use this app :


Run it as Admin if you got "Access Denied!!!"

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and so how does one invoke "run as administrator" on a click-once app? –  enorl76 Sep 6 '14 at 21:56

For me, what works is

del /s dir

You can add /q to disable confirmation. I've never managed to get rmdir working (on XP)

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You should probably stop using XP, it isn't supported anymore ... –  Eric Wilson May 17 '14 at 17:20

If you have a really really long path, (like I did because of java program error), even robocopy cant do it. It descended for about 30sec into my path and then hung.

My solution: if you can move the whole problem path from one folder to another then you can cut away recursivly and repeatedly some directory stairs from the top.

This Batch plays pingpong between the two directories leer and leer2 and cuts away 8 'libraries' each time. If your path contains files, you have to add further commands to erase them.

move c:\leer\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries c:\leer2
rd /S /Q c:\leer\libraries
move c:\leer2\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries\libraries c:\leer
rd /S /Q c:\leer2\libraries
GOTO loop
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If you want to delete a long and complicated folder structure from the command prompt that RmDir won't touch and not even explorer can display, I've found robocopy can be very efficient at removing the structure. In the example below we have a massive structure inside the folder administrator, the structure is so deep that nothing can remove it. We create a new empty folder called (strangely enough!) "new folder". We then use the robocopy command, telling it the source folder is "new folder" and the destination folder is "D:\Administrator" with the /MIR parameter which means it will purge anything not in the source folder.

robocopy "D:\new folder" D:\Administrator /MIR

In this case the folder paths were so long they would not even fit in the command prompt window Screen Buffer, but Robocopy will traverse the structure and remove any "extra" files and folders (ie anything not in the new empty folder, which is everything).

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This is the only solution that will work when your path is more than 250 odd chars long –  Calm Storm Feb 12 '13 at 16:24
Very clever use of robocopy! –  Alan Jul 13 '14 at 5:13

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