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How do I delete a 'locked' file?

More specifically, I'm trying to rename or overwrite a file, and get the message

Access Denied. Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and the file is not currently in use.

Is there a way to find who / what's using the file, and kick them off it?


LockHunter is a foolproof file unlocker.

It is a tool to delete files blocked by something you do not know. LockHunter is useful for fighting against malware, and other programs that are blocking files without a reason. Unlike other similar tools it deletes files into the recycle bin so you may restore them if deleted by mistake.

Key Features

Shows processes locking a file or folder

Allows to unlock, delete, copy or rename a locked file

Allows to kill locking process

Allows to remove locking processes from hard drive

Integrates in to Explorer menu

It deletes files into the recycle bin, so you may restore them if deleted by mistake

Supports both 32 and 64bit Windows

as for your question:

Is there a way to find who / what's using the file?

alt text

LockHunter is freeware.

  • looks good. does it do remote machines, by any chance? – Nick Oct 6 '09 at 10:04
  • 4
    if you install the program on the remote machine ... – Molly7244 Oct 6 '09 at 10:08

Unlocker is another cool app :)

  • Unable to find a way to download from that page. Any link that seems like it should download it just leads to a 404 instead. – ArtOfWarfare Apr 15 at 19:08

If you want to find out who/what is using a particular file use Process Explorer

  • 1
    you're much better of with AnVir Task Manager instead (even the free version beats Process Explorer by a country mile :) anvir.com/taskmanager – Molly7244 Oct 6 '09 at 10:58
  • something beats process explorer by a country mile? That's an insta-download! – Nick Oct 6 '09 at 14:20
  • nice. Got to watch out for toolbar invasion during install, but the app looks pretty sweet. What happens after 20 days? – Nick Oct 6 '09 at 14:22
  • Nick, I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public. :) "Portable ZIP archive of AnVir Task Manager Free" no installation, no toolbars, no 20 days evaluation period, zip, zilch, nada ... tsss – Molly7244 Oct 6 '09 at 14:31
  • oh - so you meant to link me here anvir.com/download.htm instead. I feel justly humbled for clicking the big shiny green button at the end of your link :) – Nick Oct 6 '09 at 14:44

For remote machines, if the file is on a network share, you can access the domain controller/member server through computer management (Start->Run->compmgmt.msc) if you have the credentials.

Right-click on the top of the hierarchy (Computer Management (Local)), and select "Connect to another computer". Locate the appropriate server with the file and once connected, expand to Shared Folders -> Open Files. You can then right click any file and disconnect a user from it.

This method only works if you have access to the server. Locally, use the previously mentioned Unlocker.

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