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Cannot delete file/folder? Delete undeletable file in Windows explorer with Unlocker

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Cannot delete file or folder in Windows explorer of XP, Vista, 2000 or 2003? Is it because the access is denied? Or because Windows cannot read from source file or disk? The source or destination file may be in use? Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use?

Sometimes you just cannot delete files and Windows keeps throwing out error messages without any specific solution. There is no further information on how the access is denied, or why Windows cannot read from the source file, or what application that is using or accessing the file so that it cannot be deleted.

In other words, the file is locked without any clear explanation of what is happening and any clear solution to unlock the file.

If you don’t want to install any software, there are two standard solutions for this.

How to delete undeletable files without installing software…

First option:

  • make sure that you have closed all of the running applications.
  • open the Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del.
  • In the “Process” tab, find the “explorer.exe”.
  • Right click it and select “End process”.
  • Ignore the warning message and click “Yes”.

Second option, if the first doesn’t work, you should restart Windows. They try to delete it again. There should be no problem in deleting the file.

However, would you spend time to restart Windows everytime you find a locked file? What about your current task? Do you have to leave them just to delete a locked file? There are times when you just can’t avoid the necessity of an additional application to make things right in a faster way. In this case, Unlocker would be the perfect answer.

Unlocker doesn’t only let you to delete a locked file without restarting Windows, but it also lets you know which programs that are locking the file. Moreover, it also enables you to rename or move the locked file. All is done right inside your Windows explorer.

How to delete locked file with Unlocker

  • Download and install Unlocker.
  • Right-click the undeleted file and select Unlocker from the menu.
  • If the file is locked by other programs, Unlocker will show you which ones.
  • Select the delete option from the drop-down menu.
  • Hit “Unlock All” button.
  • That’s all. The file is deleted directly.

There is a faster way to do it. You can bypass the necessity to right-click the file everytime you find a locked one by letting Unlocker assistant running in the background. This assistant will automatically launch Unlocker once you close the error message that pops up when you cannot delete a file.

For me, Unlocker has done very well so far. I can delete every locked file without having to restart Windows. However, the maker warns there could be times when you have to restart Windows or even fails in deleting a locked file using Unlocker. I guess it happens once in a blue moon, though.

Another interesting thing you can find from the developer’s site is the list of the alternative programs in case you find Unlocker fails to do a certain deletion job. The alternatives are ranging from Boot Deleter, WhoLockMe, Delete Doctor, Process Explorer, ForceDel, and many others.

Unlocker is a freeware supporting Windows Vista, XP, 2000 and 2003.

My apologize for having forgotten to explain what to do next in the first option after you take the steps. So, here you are.

The steps you take in the first option above will terminate Windows explorer. After it disappears, you should re-open it again. Here is how to do it:

  • Click the “file” menu in Windows Task Manager and select “New Task (Run…)”.
  • Type explorer within the drop-down space of the window that pops up afterward and hit the OK button.

Next, look for the file once the Windows explorer appears and try to delete it.

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8 Responses to “Cannot delete file/folder? Delete undeletable file in Windows explorer with Unlocker”

  1. Delete Locked File in Windows Explorer with Unlocker Freeware | Orange Tech Says:

    [...] Cannot delete file/folder? Delete undeleted file in Windows explorer Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and [...]

  2. dadecoders Says:

    Usually, rebooting will break the file lock. If it doesn’t, something running at startup is creating the lock on each boot. If a reboot fixes the problem, I wouldn’t worry about it. If it’s still locked after rebooting, it might be a sign of something more serious. Unlocker will tell you what process has the lock. You should probably see if it’s process you want running. It could be malicious. Just <“breaking the lock and deleting the file could be a band-aid for a more serious problem.

    I had just spent a good part of my morning trying to delete a PDF file that refused to go away. Still saying Cannot Delet “”” This folder is being used by another person or pragram</a.
    Feeling dejected, I moved on to the next thing on my to-do list.

    I highly recommend Unlocker. I have been using it for years and it has always saved my life. Without it, I would have smashed up my PC in frustration ages ago!

  3. Delete Locked Folder & File Easily in Windows Explorer Says:

    [...] Read also: Cannot delete file? [...]

  4. wamcy Says:

    very informative!!! thanks a lot. i have now deleted an undeleted file. before, i format the entire drive just to remove it, but thanks to this post. now i know how.

  5. Navid MK Says:

    how can i make an undelete folders?
    not delete this folder anybody & not delet with format drive

  6. Unlock Locked Files & Folder Says:

    [...] Read also: Cannot Delete File? [...]

  7. Delete Locked Files in Windows 7 Says:

    [...] locked files in Windows 7 without having to restart Windows? Then you should know that the great previously-mentioned-here free unlocking program, Unlocker, has been updated to support Windows 7. The latest release fixes [...]

  8. Delete Locked Files in Windows 7 64-bit Says:

    [...] One annoying thing from Unlocker is that you have to be careful during the installation to prevent installing unneccessary additions such as Bing toolbar and eBay shortcuts. Read more about Unlocker here. [...]

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