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Windows: How To Delete A File Even If It Is In Use

Updated on December 21, 2012
Typical Windows error: a file cannot be deleted if it is in use.
Typical Windows error: a file cannot be deleted if it is in use.

This Windows problem is quite typical; you try to delete a file, but keep receiving errors, such as:
Cannot delete file: Access is denied
There has been a sharing violation.
The file is in use by another program or user.
Cannot delete folder: It is being used by another person or program
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.

As far as you know, nothing is using the file you are trying to delete; but the error keeps showing up, disturbing your work and annoying you to the point of making you reboot so the file can be deleted.
Sometimes, the reason is obvious - if you are watching a movie and you are trying to delete the file at the same moment, of course it is normal error notification. Nevertheless, there are times when the reason is not clear; could be the antivirus is scanning the file, or windows explorer is still accessing it; in fact, the latter is the most possible cause and is not something you can stop easily.

Unlocker option at right click menu
Unlocker option at right click menu

Unlocker is a free utility which will help you deal with these errors effectively and most important, fast. When it is installed, it will be included in the right-click options of any file or folder of the system.

Locked process and file actions to be done through Unlocker.
Locked process and file actions to be done through Unlocker.

All that is needed to do from now on every time you receive one of the previously mentioned errors is right click at the file or folder which is causing the notification and choosing the Unlocker menu option. When it loads, it will indicate which process is currently using the file.

The program can kill the process or unlock it and order file action which you will indicate; for example, it can force rename a file in use, force move or delete a file completely.

Sometimes, Unlocker cannot delete the file at all if it is used by an application which cannot be stopped; in those rare circumstances, it will ask you if you want to perform the deletion on next reboot.

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