In Win7, I can't delete files on an external HD even after messing around with ownership

merbce used Ask the Experts™
If I use the Del key or the delete item on WinExplorer menu or on an application menu, I get "Can't read from the source file or disk." And yet a picture file displays perfectly in its default app and as a thumbnail/icon in the directory and all the Details about the file display perfectly in the preview pane.

If I try to change the properties (make all the files in the folder just Archive, not Read-only), I get 'failed cyclic redundancy check' for each file in turn, but the file is A and still can't be deleted.

I really need to delete a whole bunch of files to clean up my backup disk (that has got some extraneous files on it).

Any help, most appreciated.
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Please go to "safely remove hardware" and remove the drive and unplug it, then reconnect and let windows re-add the drive. Please see if this helps.
If the above comment does not work try to use an app called Unlocker. It will help you to remove the drive. Then connect it again and try to delete.

Right click on the drive / Properties / Security tab and then add "system, Administrators, users" giving them full control.
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Could be caused by corrupt security setting.

First uninstall your security software and then restart the computer.

Run subinacl.

Restart the computer... try deleting files ..install a good security software.

Also would recommend a free malwarebyes scan



remixedcal: tried it; still can't delete anything
pcunite: system, Administrators already have full control; tried to set full control for users: no luck; the system started to go through folder by folder, file by file to set full control and gave the message 'Data error (cyclic redundancy check) each time. When I cancelled the operation, it complained that, essentially, not everything had the new setting and I should change back immediately 'to achieve a consistent state'. Of course when I tried to change back (i.e., give users their standard Read&execute, List folder contents, and Read permissions) it gave the same complaint....

Not enthusiastic but will try to find 'Unlocker' and see what happens. Right now, I have an external HD with some folders that can't be deleted, a Norton Backup folder and sub-folders that can't be updated and a large folder (with a backup copy of most of the files on the two partitions of my internal HD) whose files can be opened and read by the usual apps, but not moved or deleted by the system because it "can't read from source file or disk"!!!
so you're tried the commands ded9 has given you? any luck?
If you boot the system from a Live CD, like Ubuntu, you'll be able to delete files ignoring the NTFS permissions.
You can download the ISO for free to create your own bootable CD.

The 'Data error (cyclic redundancy check)' you get concerns me. It's possible that you have bad sectors or other problems with the drive.  You should run some diagnostics to check the drive.
I would try the bootcd method, however it is not a long term fix, however it would work if it were a windows locking problem of some sort.

I would do diagnostics on the drive, making sure it is ok.... if errors present themselves, please try to salvage your files, reformat the drive, place some files back and try to delete them from windows.... if this does not work then the drive is on it's way out and needs to be replaced.

My suggestion was correct, but you have a bad hard drive.


I tried Unlocker. It claimed success in deleting a folder and then, when I tried it again on a single file in that same folder. You will have guessed from this that it didn't work. All files still stuck in place.

Unlocker did say that it could not find any 'Locking handle' before offering to Delete, Move or Rename the item.

Will now try ded9's subinacl approach, if necessary after running diagnostics on the drive.
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I would personally grab an image of the disk, and on the NEW disk, run a chkdsk /f /r, to allow it to rebuild the file structure.

AS mentioned above, the CRC issues are not good, and I would treat backing up the data as your only priority right now.

Imaging the disk will bypass any possible permissions issue as well.


I am running chkdsk /x on the problem disk right now. Some errors have been found and fixed. Still waiting for stage 3 of 3 to finish verifying Usn journal(?).

johnb6767: Not sure how to 'grab an image of the disk' Have a feeling that the failure to copy&paste/cut/move/rename/delete anything from it will not lead to a successful imaging.

So, basically, still doing some chkdsk stuff before trying subinacl or taking the disk back to the store and let them handle it, it's less than 90 days old.


This just in..
chkdsk /x  reported, in stage 2:
-insufficient disk space to correct errors in indec $I130 for file 106363
-recovering a bunch of orphaned files in directorey 106365
-ended by saying 0 unindexed files recovered (out of 263 unindexed files scanned)

and in stage 3:
- 291072 file SDs/SIDs processed;
-Security descriptor verification completed, 9304 data files processed
-after verifying Usn Journal, 99 percent complete (0 of 1050344 USN bytes processed), Unable to read the Usn Journal $J data stream

and that's all she wrote...

I'll have to decide between subinacl and a trip to the store later.
Better choose the second option.

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Easeus Disk Copy

This is a tool you could use to capture an image of the Hard Drive. I was hoping you could do this, and run tests on a second copy, instead of the original.

Have you tried any Recovery Software?

Data Recovery - Zero Assumption Recovery


Data Recovery - Data Recovery Software - RAID Recovery - NAS Data ...

Do these while the drive is slaved to the controller on the board... Not via USB case....


johnb6767: Thanks for the links. I tried the easeus one and am confused. There is no useful documentation for Disk Copy, it all points to ToDo Backup. I'm fed up with dlding software that doesn't do anything for me.

Running the Disk Copy file, it loaded  version 2.3 of Disk copy somewhere unfindable-certainly not in a folder on the HD- when I chose to put the bootable thingy on a new HD, and it loaded some stuff on a DVD-R disk when I chose that as my bootable option. It left a dektop.ini file (seemingly on the disk, it was listed as such with the 4 other items on the disk) to be written to disk(?), but of course the -R disk was closed by then. In any case, I have no idea *what* to run from where, even if I could find something on the HD. As I said, the documentation pointed to by the website was shilling for the BackUp program (and, yes, I know it is supposed to do everything I need and more but I am sceptical).

There is no way I can slave the problem drive to the controller on the board-the board is inside a portable and I have no intention of opening that for any reason, ever.

I haven't tried any data recovery software yet. Maybe I'll take a look at z-a-recovery.

So, the drive was defective, as I suggested.


I'm unfamiliar with boot iso files and software like Ubuntu. So I installed it, ran it with my fingers crossed and fortunately it worked.

Thanks @merbce for re-distributing the points.

Glad to see that you were able to recover your files.

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