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cannot delete : it is being used by another person or program

Posted on 2004-04-29
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Last Modified: 2011-08-18
Hi

i am running windows XP
i am trying to delete and move a couple of folders and files.
i get this error message.

Cannot delete [Folder Name]: it is being used by another person or program
close any programs that might be using the file and try again.

The point is no other program is using the files / folders. i have restarted the comp so many times , shutdoen the antivirus but nothing seems to be working. i need to free up hard disk space.

has nayone faced the same problems before ?

thanks.

iCe

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Question by:iceb
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21 Comments
 
LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:sramesh2k
ID: 10956485
iCe: Tried it in Safe Mode? And which folders you're trying to move (shell folders?)
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:PaulADavis
ID: 10956573
are these just personal files and folders that you created? sometimes surprisingly something does have the file or folder locked open or sometimes permissions may be a factor... check out this link....

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;320081
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LVL 7

Accepted Solution

by:
PaulADavis earned 400 total points
ID: 10956613
check out cause #2.... also check up on the permissions and ownership of the files and folders.

other possible fixes:

http://www.theeldergeek.com/delete_undeletable_file.htm
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:dbacalja
ID: 10957557
You might want to take a look at the Process Explorer from Sysinternals:

http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/freeware/procexp.shtml

It can show you which handles (file, reg. key, directory etc.) and DLLs are in use and who is using them. Use "Find Handle" to do a search on opened handles. Just enter the directory or file name that is locked in the search bar. You will get the list of the processes that are keeping the file or directory locked.
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LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:Huseyin1
ID: 10957800
hi

right click the file you would like to remove then on the popup menu click on cut, now open the bin and paste in there, now empty the bin.

H
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:timothyfryer
ID: 10957910
You might try removing it in safe mode.  Might also try opeing task manager and killing as many processes as you can, though the wrong one and you get the countdown to shutdown box.  Then kill explorer, then open cmd.exe from the task manager and try to delete it from the command line.  If that doesn't work, you can try deleting it from the recovery console.
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:jvuz
ID: 10957916
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LVL 21

Assisted Solution

by:jvuz
jvuz earned 100 total points
ID: 10957918
SYNTAX

Deletes one or more files.

DEL [drive:][path]filename [/P]
ERASE [drive:][path]filename [/P]

  [drive:][path]filename  Specifies the file(s) to delete.   Specify multiple
                          files by using wildcards.
  /P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.

EXAMPLES

del test.tmp = Deletes the test.tmp in the directory that you currently are in, if the file exists.
del c:\windows\test.tmp = Delete the c:\windows\test.tmp in the windows directory if it exists.
del c:\windows\temp\*.* = (* is for wild character(s)) *.* indicates that you would like to delete all files in the c:\windows\temp directory.
del c:\windows\temp\?est.tmp = (? is a single wild character for one letter) This command would delete any file ending with est.tmp such as pest.tmp or zest.tmp...
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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:barcelona_blom
ID: 10958034
If you have access to another computer, you could pop the drive into the other computer and delete the files/folders using the other operating system,
That would work.
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:berni1234
ID: 10958443
is it an extremly long name+path (->try to rename a subordinated folder to 1 character, try to delete the file, rename the folder to its previous name)
have you tried to delete the file in a Dos command-windwo ("Del" like comment from jvuz) ?
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:iceb
ID: 10965145
o my god !
soo many replies.

i'll have tuff time awarding points.
i m busy trying the solutions.

will get back soon.

thanks to everyone.

iCe

0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:iceb
ID: 10965214
Thanks. PaulADavis
http://www.theeldergeek.com/delete_undeletable_file.htm
This solution worked.

cmd. did it.
!@#$%^&*()  -> state of my mind  -> whom to award points.

Similar solution by jvuz.
Similra solution by timothyfryer -> had tried in safe mode and also by killing the processes

barcelona_blom had a good suggestion too.
dbacalja sent a cool link.

Huseyin1 -> i had tried that but even cut did not work.
berni1234 -> even renaming was giving the same error.


Still thinking about awarding points.

iCe

when i used del command in cmd it deleted the file. now it is not even in the recycle bin.
where did it go ? i know permanently deleted but shudnt it have been in recycle bin.

iCe
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:PaulADavis
ID: 10965236
lol.... i was surprised as well when i saw how many folks jumped on the question.... :-)

0
 
LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:PaulADavis
ID: 10965296
thanks iceb....

experts exchange is a really nice place to find the answers you need and learn new things.... love it ;-)

all the best to you ....
0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:iceb
ID: 10965313
ok i feel guilty conscious.
please accept these points in the separate question i have created.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/WinXP/Q_20974315.html
[dbacalja] 100
[PaulADavis] 100
[timothyfryer] 50
[jvuz ] 100

sramesh2k -> had tried in safe mode. sorry . no points.
dbacalja -> 100 points -> for the excellent link
PaulADavis -> 100 points  -> cuz of the simple reason he answered first.
Huseyin1 -> i had tried that but even cut did not work.
timothyfryer -> 50 points -> same suggestion. but could have explained like jvuz. No offense meant.
jvuz -> 100 points -> for providing info at one place.
berni1234 -> your answer was a pointer to jvuz. no points. no offense meant.
barcelona_blom -> was a good suggestion. but not the primary solution. soory . no points.

This was by far the toughest time i had awarding points. it has taken me close to 30 minutes to be try to be fair to everyone.
(i hope :-))


iCe.
0
 
LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:jvuz
ID: 10975076
Thanx,
Jvuz.
0
 

Expert Comment

by:Songsdream
ID: 12037482
I had the same problem and the cut and paste tip worked for me.
0
 

Expert Comment

by:brigodon
ID: 12253129
I had this same problem with a large video file that refused to delete on my XP Pro NTFS machine.
I cut and pasted the file to an empty partition and formatted the partition and it cleared it ok.

This was before I saw Huseyin1's comment above suggesting a cut and paste to the Recyvle Bin which of course. if that works would be much simpler.

brigodon
0
 

Expert Comment

by:kennethburgener
ID: 12395464
The “accepted solution” to this has worked perfectly for deleting the undeletable files, but there is one small problem with this “accepted answer”.  It is just a bandaid, and only fixes the problem when it arises.  What do I do to keep the problem from arising in the first place?  I am now to the point that I am getting these undeletable files almost every other day, in the My Documents folder.  I use the sysinternals process explorer to check out which process has the lock, and it is consistently explorer.exe.  Why would explorer.exe be keeping these locks in the first place?

I have service pack 2 for Windows XP Professional, and it seems to have gotten worse after I installed service pack 2.  I don’t remember ever having this problem when I had no service packs installed, but then again that could just be my imagination.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:PaulADavis
ID: 12395517
kennethburgener, you should open a seperate question....

this question 1.has been closed 2. is someone else's request for assistance.

check your permissions structure and/or perform a repair installation.
 
I am now unsubscribing from this question and will now longer receive notices.
Bet you would get a ton of responses if you opened a new question.
0
 

Expert Comment

by:kennethburgener
ID: 12395875
I have taken your advice and begun a new question here:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/WinXP/Q_21180703.html
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