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How do I delete a 'locked' file?

Sometimes it happens that I can't delete a file because it appears to be in use by some program. Of course there is no obvious process using it (it's not that I don't see VLC playing an AVI I want to erase), so how can I find out what's keeping it busy?

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marked as duplicate by Bob, Sathya Jun 11 '12 at 19:32

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There's a great freeware tool called Unlocker that can solve this exact problem rather easily.

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No way to do it without installing external programs? –  Matteo Riva Sep 25 '10 at 13:48
    
Process Explorer suggested by @Gilles is interesting too, but accepting this as it more directly solves the specific issue –  Matteo Riva Sep 25 '10 at 14:08
    
You can use LiberKey (www.liberkey.com) to have portable solutions like that without the need of installing them on current system. –  kokbira Jun 11 '12 at 12:48
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Install Process Explorer. Choose “Find / Handle or DLL” in the menu and enter a substring of the file name.

There's also Handle if you want a command line interface.

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How to take ownership of a file or a folder in Windows XP

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=308421

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Taking ownership is not the same as find out what other user/process has the file locked. –  ChrisF Sep 25 '10 at 13:53
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