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6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go away

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 23, 2004 6:28 AM PDT
(Note to our readers: MAKE SURE you are familiar with files you are planning to delete.You don't want to delete a file that is critical to your
system; that can really wreak havoc in your computer. So be cautious
and know what you are deleting before proceeding! Delete files at your own risk. Thank you.)



Question:

can't delete a few files or folders in XP. I get a "File in use" message. Sometimes I also get an "Access denied" message. What do I do?

Submitted by: Markus C. of Tucson, Arizona


Answer:

There are a few ways you can delete files that are flagged as "File in use" or "Access denied." If one way doesn?t work try the next. But first make sure that you are familiar with the files you are going to delete. If you do not know what they are for, it is best to leave it alone. Just beware that deleting an important file like a system file can cause serious problems to the OS and/or other programs, so make sure you know what you are doing.

The solutions that I have provided below are assuming that you are the single user for the computer. If this computer is not yours or you do not have system administrative rights, you will need to ask the administrator to grant the necessary permissions to allow you to delete these files. After all you may find that you do not have the permission/authority to delete those files.

1. "File in use" or "Access denied" usually means that your file is being accessed by an application. So make sure that the file you are deleting is not in use or opened, if so close all applications associated with that file and try to delete it. If that doesn't work, sometimes the application doesn't shut down properly and leaves that file hanging in limbo as if it was in use. Wait a few minutes and try again. If that doesn't work try the next method.

2. Reboot your computer, do not open any applications and go directly to that particular file and delete it. If that doesn't work try the next method.

3. Rename the file you would like to delete and try deleting it. Sometimes it tricks whatever is tying it up into releasing the file for deletion. If that doesn't work move on to next step.

4. Boot Windows into Safe Mode. To do this reboot your computer and while it is booting up hit F8 and select safe mode and click OK. Let it boot up completely and access that file and delete it.

5. This last solution is a bit technical and if you are unfamiliar with command lines, you may want to call it a day and leave the file you?d like to delete alone.

- Close all applications.
- Click Start > Run > type in cmd > OK, this will open a command line interface and leave this window open.
- Hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and click on the Task Manager button > Processes Tab > Select explorer.exe > click End process button > this will kill all running apps in Windows including your task bar. Do not close the Task Manager window.
- Go to the command line interface, find the file and delete it.
- Go back to the Windows Task Manager, click File > select New Task (Run) > type in explorer.exe > click OK. That should bring back your task bar and you?re all done.

I hope this helps, Good Luck!

Submitted by: Pat T. of San Jose, California


Thank you Pat and all our participant in this week?s answer!
Make sure you check out all the honorable mention below ?especially the article by Matthew F. on using the command line in detail to remove files if that were you are going.


Thanks again everyone!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community


********* HONORABLE MENTIONS: **********


Answer:

Both these errors (and several others) mean that some program (or, if
you're unlucky, a part of the operating system) requires the use of the
program, and has therefore required that it not be deleted or edited as
long as that program is running. If it's a program, simply cancel the
process that's responsible for this by pressing ctrl-alt-delete,
clicking the processes tab and double-clicking on the appropriate task
name. If you don't know what program is responsible, I've run across a
freeware program called FreeFile that will find out for you. Download it
from http://www.skrubbeltrang.com (or if their site is down like it is
right now, several freeware library have it as well) and scan the file
you want to delete with it. After closing the process(es) you should be
able to delete the file.

If it's Windows itself locking the file, first try rebooting. If that
doesn't work, try booting into safe mode. If that also doesn't work, you
might want to consider not deleting it, as it's likely something
important, but if you're really desperate to delete it or it's obvious
that Windows is making a mistake, you could try to locate an old Windows
98 boot disk, the kind that actually just loaded up a simplified version
of DOS. This should get around all the file protections, and let you
delete what you want. It will require you to know basic dos commands
("dir" lists the contents of the current directory, "cd <folder name>"
changes the current directory, "del <file name>" deletes a file) and
also the exact path to the file you want to delete (opening the
properties of a file in Windows will tell you this in the "Location"
box). It should also be noted that DOS cut off file names at 8
characters, so if any file or folder names are longer than that, what
you'll see (and want to type to access it) is the first 6 characters, a
tilde (~) and the appropriate number (which you'll have to dir to find,
but it's usually a 1). Shouldn't have to come to this, but just in
case... Hope this helps!


Submitted by: Adam F. of Santa Cruz, CA

***************************************************

Answer:

----------------------------------
Article by:
Matthew F.
MSS Computer Consulting
----------------------------------
TITLE: 'File In Use'? But I'm not using it anymore!

The message "File in use" or "Access denied" is an indication that some
running process, meaning program, is currently accessing that file or
folder. But you can delete it safely as long as you know it is not a
necessary Windows XP operating system file.

First try exiting any obvious running programs, including those running in
the tray. If this does not allow you to delete the file, that means the
Windows XP operating system is the culprit. If it is not a necessary Windows
XP operating system file, then in that case it is time to go to the dreaded
'Command Line' to solve your problem.

The Command line can be scarry for novices but once you get the hang of it,
it is an extremly valuable tool. The steps you will need to have printed
out, or remember are as follows:

1) Click the 'Start Menu' - and click 'Run'. Type 'cmd' and hit enter. The
Command line interface window appears.

2) You then need to type 'cd', that is the command for changing the command
line directory, a space, and then the full path to the files or folders that
you want to delete. You might want to put the path in quotes, like this:

C:\> cd "c:\program files\game\"

Of course you need to know the path, and you can find it by exploring from
'My Computer' to the files you want deleted. Then look in the 'Address Bar'
at the top. If the address is not visible, click "View' - 'Toolbars' - and
click on 'Address Bar' to make it visible. The full path will be be there
now.

You can copy and paste the path into the command line by highlighting it
with the mouse, left clicking on it and choose 'Copy' from the popup menu.
Then left-click on the cursor in the Command window and choose 'Paste' from
the popup menu. This should work with the default settings on the Command
window. If by chance the 'Quick Edit' option is enabled, just left-clicking
on the cursor will paste automatically without a popup menu. You'll know
'Quick Edit' is enabled if the text just appears on the Command line with
one left click. Otherwise you will get the popup window.

3) Next start the Task Manager: Left click on the blue program bar attached
to the 'Start Menu' and choose 'Task Manager' from the popup window. Click
on the processes tab of the 'Task Manager'. Now look through the list of
processes and find 'explorer.exe'. There may be more than one if you are
browsing files and folders at the same time. The one used by the operating
system to create your desktop environment is probably the one using the most
memory resources.

4) Now, here comes the scarry part. You are about to end the desktop program
by ending it's process. Once you do that, you will only have the Command
line window open, and the task manager - no icons, no Start menu, nothing
else. So you need to have these instructions printed out or memorized. Okay,
this is it - choose the 'explorer.exe' process in the task manager by
clicking on it and hit the button on the bottom that says 'End Process'. It
will ask you if you really want to do this, and you click 'Yes'. Now you
have only the Command line window and the Task Manager open.

5) Here is where the power of the Command line becomes your friend. You can
now delete the files or folders that were giving you the 'Access denied' or
'File in use' message using the 'del' command (short for delete) for files
and the 'rd' command (short for remove directory) for folders. You just
type:

C:\Program Files\Game> del "filename.ext"

for files and for folders use the 'rd' command with the '/S' parameter to
get rid of any files or folders inside of it:

C:\Program Files\Game> rd /s "dirname"

You might want to see a list of the files or folders by typing:

C:\Program Files\Game> dir

which will give you a list of the current directory (a directory is just
another name for folder when using the Command line). You can see all the
files and their full names in this list. Now, if you do not see the name of
the file or folder you wanted to delete, it is probably a hidden or system
file or folder, and your settings allowed you to see these in 'My Computer'
as a grayed out, or partially transparent icon. In this case you will need
to change that before you can delete it, otherwise you will get the error:
'Could Not Find C:\Program Files\Game\yourfile.dat' .

In order to make a hidden file or folder deletable, you use the 'attrib'
command to remove the hidden attribute.You do that like this:

C:\Program Files\Game> attrib -h "filename_ or_foldername'

Now it will show up using the 'dir' command and you can remove it using
'del' for files or 'rd' for folders.

6) The final step is to reinstate your desktop. To do this, at the command
line type:

C:\Program Files\Game> explorer

Your desktop will be restored.

What if you make a mistake?
Fear of making a mistake is probably the biggest reason for not using the
command line besides not knowing the commands. But don't worry - it is
actually easier to screw up your operating system from within 'My Computer'
than anyplace else. And the Command line arguments have to be typed in
exactly correct or you just get a simple 'Command Not Regognized' or 'Could
Not Find' error. Also, you can type 'help' and get a list of commands to use
on your system. Each command has it's own help usually by typing the command
name followed by a '/?' (forward-slash and questionmark).

What if you close the Command line window or Task Manager before reinstating
the desktop?
Now if you accidentally closed the Command line window, don't worry. You can
still get your desktop back using the 'Task Manager'. Click on the top menu
'Shut Down' and choose either 'Log Off' or even 'Restart'.

Now if you somehow also closed the 'Task Manager' and are sitting there with
a blank screen and mouse cursor, you should be able to use the 'Fast User
Switching' hot-key to get you back to the log on screen. You do this by
holding down the 'Windows' key (it is between the Ctrl and Alt keys) and
then press 'L'. This should bring you back to the log on screen.

Now if for some reason the 'Fast User Switching' is disabled, I'm afraid
you'll have to reset your computer at this point. But for that to have to
happen, you'd have to make the mistake of closing both the Command line
window and the Task Manager both. So this process doesn't have to be scarry,
even if you make the odd mistake.

Submitted by: Matthew F. of Yuba City, CA

***************************************************

Answer:

Try going into safe mode. You do this by pressing the F8 key (you might have to press the F8 key several times) while the machine is booting up. This should bring up a short text menu. You will see a selection entitled Safe Mode. Press the down arrow until the Safe Mode selection is highlighted. Press the enter key. You will see a window pop-up explaining you are going into Safe Modem. This window will have an ?OK? button on it. Press your enter key and this window will disappear and Windows will load. After Windows is finished loading, you will see ?Safe Mode? in each corner of your screen.

Click on your start button, select Control Panel. Once inside the Control Panel, locate the Add/Remove icon and click on it or highlight it and press your enter key. You will see a window open listing the various programs you have loaded. Try uninstalling the program that way first. If that doesn?t work, close the window and open Windows Explorer. You will see all the folders located on your drives. At this point, you will be able to delete any files or folders you couldn?t delete before. As a safety precaution, try renaming the folder first. If it is a system folder, Windows will display a message that will tell you it is a system folder and is NOT delete able.






Submitted by: Mike L.

***************************************************


Answer:

Answer (Short):
Nearly all modern operating systems, including Windows XP, prevent
users from deleting files that are in use. This helps improve the stability
(i.e. making the computer crash less) by allowing programs to operate under
the assumption that when the open a file that it will continue to exist, at
least until the program closes it again. This is why Windows gives the 'File
in use' error message.
First, try finding and killing all of the programs that have the
file open. This can be done with the free program from SysInternals call
Process Explorer (download at:
http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/freeware/procexp.shtml) Hint: Windows and
Process Explorer both refer to open files as 'Handles'. If that does not
work, try setting the file permissions for the file to be deleted. The steps
for this can be found in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;304040&Product=winxp
). Please note that in order to successfully perform the steps listed, a
'Computer Administrator' account must be used (see Microsoft Knowledge Base
article:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;279783&Product=winxp
for more information about user account types).

Answer (Long):
Nearly all modern operating systems, including Windows XP, prevent
users from deleting files that are in use. This helps improve the stability
(i.e. making the computer crash less) by allowing programs to operate under
the assumption that when the open a file that it will continue to exist, at
least until the program closes it again. This is why Windows gives the 'File
in use' error message.
Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP all have file-level
security capabilities, meaning that permissions can be set for individual
files and folders that allow or disallow certain users from using the file
in question. Typically, when Windows gives the 'Access denied' error when
trying to delete a file, it is because the permissions for that file do not
allow the user delete permissions.
In the case of the 'File in use' message, the first step is to
figure out which program(s) have the file open. The easiest way to do this
is with a free program from SysInternals call Process Explorer. (available
for download at: http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/freeware/procexp.shtml).
Inside Process Explorer, go to the 'Find' menu and select 'Find Handle'.
This will open a dialog box where you can type in the name of the file or
folder to find out about. Click on the 'Search' button to have Process
Explorer search the running programs to find the program(s) that have the
file open. Clicking on each entry in the search results list will select
that process in the main window of Process Explorer. From that main window,
you can right-click on individual processes and select 'Kill Process', which
will close that program. Once all of the programs that have the file open
are ended, windows will no longer give the 'File in use' message.
In some cases, the file to be deleted is in use by a program that
Process Explorer cannot kill (or more to the point, programs that Windows
will not allow Process Explorer to kill). In these cases, more unusual
methods must be used. One of these is to rename the file, reboot the
computer, and then delete it (this usually works only with DLLs). Another is
to boot from some media other than the hard drive (e.g. a CD-ROM, or a Zip
disk), and then delete the file. Creating such boot media is beyond the
scope of this answer, but please note that whatever operating system is on
that new boot media must be capable of supporting the type of file system
on the hard drive that the file to be deleted is on (the file system type
can be found by right-clicking on the hard drive icon in My Computer, and
selecting 'Properties')
In the case of the 'Access denied' message, the file permissions
must be changed for the file before it can be deleted. With the introduction
of Simple File Sharing in Windows XP, there are two different way of doing
this, based on weather or not Simple File Sharing is enabled (for more
information about Simple File Sharing, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base
article:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;304040&Product=winxp
). Please note that all of the following steps assume that the user is
logged in under an account that is set as a 'Computer Administrator' (see
the Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;279783&Product=winxp
). If Simple File Sharing is enabled, right-click on the file or folder to
be deleted, and select 'Sharing and Security'. The security level to set the
file to is Level 2 (My Documents). This allows the owner of the file or
folder (usually the user who created it), the operating system (Windows XP
itself), and anyone set as a 'Computer Administrator' to do whatever they
want with it (including deleting it). If Simple File Sharing is not enabled,
right-click on the file or folder in question, and select 'Properties'. On
the properties box that appears, select the 'Security' tab. Click on the
'Everyone' entry on the user list (if 'Everyone' is not on the list, click
on the 'Add' button and add 'Everyone'). Make sure the 'Full Control'
checkbox is checked. Click on the 'Apply' button. If setting the security
permissions for the file or folder does not allow it to be deleted, and
Windows still gives the 'Access denied' message, follow the steps for the
'File in use' error message (in the paragraph above).

Submitted by: Erick B. of Vandenberg AFB, CA

***************************************************

Answer:

First you want to ask yourself - Are you sure you want to delete that file? I've made the mistake of getting delete happy and deleted system files necessary to the operation of the computer. Not a good day when that happens. If you don't know what it is, and you didn't put it there, it may be something the computer needs to run properly.
If it is a virus you may not be able to simply delete it. You will probably have to run an antivirus program to get rid of it. If the files aren't taking up much room, you may just want to ignore them, unless you think it is a virus. Most computers today have hard drives large enough that this isn't a problem.
I use AVG Anti-virus http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_index.php Some virus' have to be deleted using instructions on the various anti-virus websites. It could also be Adware (an advertising program) or spyware. I Use ad-aware http://www.lavasoft.de/ and spybot http://spybot.safer-networking.de/ to help find and delete these.
A "File in use" message usually means you have a program running that is accessing that file. Go down to your taskbar and shutdown all programs, also shutdown the programs in the systemtray (Bottom right corner of your screen). Usually these can be shutdown by right clicking on them and selecting close or shutdown from the pop up menu. If you still can't delete it, Do ctrl-alt-delete and see what processes are running. Sometimes programs will fail to close properly, and you can shut them down here. If you still cannot delete it try rebooting and repeat the steps above. If you still cannot delete it, it may be a protected system file.
You can also run msconfig (simply go to your start button, select run, and type in msconfig, then hit OK ) This will give you a selection of tabs, and the top right one should show you what programs are configured to run when you boot your computer. Usually you will find a ton of programs loading that you don't need or want. You can uncheck them here and they will not start when you boot you're computer. If you mistakenly turn one off that you want to run , you can always recheck it. This doesn't delete it.
It is possible one of these programs maybe booting up when you start the computer and may be using the file you want to delete.
There is also an error in Windows XP where if you download a file onto your computer with to many characters, it will then not let you delete it or rename it! This has happened to me a few times, and sometimes I was able to move it to the C drive root directory (by drag and drop), and then it would let me delete it.
"Access denied" messages usually mean you are not logged on as the administrator or owner of the computer, or it is a protected system file, or a restore system file. You probably don't want to mess with these.
Another thing you can try is a freeware program @ http://www.snapfiles.com/get/moveonboot.html that will delete the files on reboot.
The programs I listed all have freeware versions. As a minimum you should run these if you are using the internet.

Submitted by: David W.
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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by bswiller / June 24, 2004 6:56 PM PDT

THE WAY I DELETE THIS FILES IS BY CUTTING THE FILE AND PATSE IT INTO THE RECYCLE BIN

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by eXcluded / June 24, 2004 7:29 PM PDT

I thought I'd throw my 2 pence in on this one:

If the files you are having problems with deleting are media files, like audio or video files, then it's quite possible that it's the windows built in preview system that hangs up on the file and won't let go of it. This is a well known problem with windows XP that people have to go through every time they reinstall it. There is a simple solution for this problem, if you feel at home with windows regedit:

Press the windows start button in your lower left corner of the screen, and press "run". type regedit and press enter. Now, there is 1 particular key in the register that we have to remove in order to make the windows meda preview let go off files, and that one is:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID\{87D62D94-71B3-4b9a-9489-5FE6850DC73E}\InProcServer32

Remove the "InProcServer32" key in the {87D62D94-71B3-4b9a-9489-5FE6850DC73E} field. And then close regedit. Now you're home free, it should work now. I do this every time I've installed XP anywhere, and it works like a charm. How this have slipped through windows quality control has a simple answer: It's not a bug, it's a feature. Silly

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by sammy k / June 24, 2004 11:43 PM PDT

WHY CAN'T I PRINT THIS!

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by Heavener / June 25, 2004 12:02 AM PDT

There is one other scenario about which I did not find mention in the earlier postings. It has to do with the folder pane in Windows Explorer. Here's how it works (rather, doesn't work) for me.

In the *RIGHT* pane, I click inside Subfolder B. Without moving my cursor focus (or the highlighting/selection) out of that pane, I go back to Folder A in the *LEFT* pane and press "Delete". I get the "file in use" or "access denied" message -- because to Windows, I am still "using" the subfolder.

If in the *RIGHT* pane, I climb back up a level so my highlighting/selection is in Folder A, I can then safely delete Subfolder B from either the left or right panes.

Unfortunately, closing Windows Explorer without changing the highlighting/selection focus leaves you stuck in Subfolder B until, as the other posts suggest, you reboot.

Best wishes,
Michael Heavener

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by Maiko / June 25, 2004 12:04 AM PDT

No one mentioned checking file attributes to see if they are read-only.
Right click the file, then click on properties.
At the bottom of the General tab there are two check boxes, one for read-only & one for hidden.
Uncheck and click OK.
Again, this is after closing running applications that may have the file in use.

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by Heavener / June 25, 2004 12:16 AM PDT

I just remembered there is one more file-protection scenario that seems to bite me regularly and it is an Internet Explorer issue.

If I save a web page using Internet Explorer and the page contains one (or more) of those pesky sub-page advertisements that put a whole system of their own files in a subfolder, *AND* one (or more) of those files contains more than 50-60 characters in the filename -- that file(s) will *NEVER* delete. Never!

The only way to get rid of it is to reformat the hard drive. The folder tree in which it resides cannot be deleted either. I think it's because the file/folder path/name exceeds the DOS limitation, so the OS just does not recognize it, even though Internet Explorer seems to.

Sorry,
Michael Heavener

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Additional solution by member
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 28, 2004 8:13 AM PDT

This message was posted on behalf of a member, Bennie M.


Concerning Pat's article on Deleting Items that just won't delete. If these are *.exe files, one place to look is the Windows Task Manager in Windows XP. Cntl Alt Del wil open this program and check under the process tab. If the Program is there, simple highlight and end Process. Then delete the program. This many times will eliminate the need for all the steps outlined in his article.

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go

06/28/04

I sent the message displayed below to Lee Koo on Friday, and was asked to post it here, so...

OPEN MESSAGE TO FULL SCREEN TO RETAIN "FORMAT" FOR BEST VIEWING

06/25/04


Hello,

I realize this is "one week late" (last week's question), but when I read the answer(s) in this week's column, it seemed important to provide the following method for deleting problem ("undeletable") files.

I was having constant problems with "undeletable" files - usually "supposed" .exe file downloads that turned out to be web pages, and/or .exe file downloads aborted while using GetRight, but other files as well. Then, almost a year ago, I found this solution on "the elder geek" web site. I've used it successfully and frequently - just today to be precise, from that day forward. I suppose I could have typed step by step instructions and claimed them for my own, but I'm too lazy (and maybe too honest) to do so. Here's the Elder Geek web page with step by step screenshots - if you follow the instructions, you can't go wrong:

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

FOR THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW HOW TO RUN COMMANDS - it's pretty straightforward for this (I didn't have a clue until a friend showed me), you need only FOUR BASIC COMMANDS.

1. HOW TO OPEN THE COMMAND WINDOW

2. HOW TO ACCESS DIRECTORIES (FOLDERS)

3. HOW TO CHANGE DIRECTORIES (FOLDERS)

4. HOW TO DELETE A FILE USING THE COMMAND PROMPT

YOU WILL LEARN AND UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE THE FOUR COMMANDS BY GOING THROUGH THIS EXAMPLE:

These are the commands needed to get to the correct directory (folder) containing the file you want to delete. A set of instructions using an example file deletion - this demonstrates how to use the command prompt, for those who don't know how. Here is what I learned and successfully applied - step by step, the "commands" to type.

WHILE FOLLOWING THIS EXAMPLE OF APPLIED COMMANDS, OPEN AND REFER TO THE ELDER GEEK WEB PAGE USING THE LINK PROVIDED ABOVE, AND YOU SHOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM!

1. First, as the Elder Geek explains, open the Task Manager AND LEAVE IT OPEN - THIS IS CRITICAL!

2. Now, click "Start", and then "Run..."

3. Type "cmd" (without the quotation marks) in the "Run" box, and then click "Ok" - the Command window will open... LEAVE IT OPEN!

4. Then, in the Task Manager, end (shut down) the "explorer.exe" process by highlighting it, and then clicking the "End Process" button - you will receive a "warning" telling you this can cause problems - just ignore it and click "Yes". REMEMBER - you must leave the Task Manager open after you close "explorer.exe", and throughout this entire process - this is absolutely necessary to keep your system up and accessible to run commands.

5. Your command window is open, so at the prompt, type "dir" (again, without quotation marks) - hit "Enter", and this will bring up "C:\Documents and Settings" with the typical opening personal folder or equivalent. You need to get to the folder containing the file to be deleted, and this will show how it's done using an example.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if the file to be deleted has a long or difficult name, you should probably write down the exact name on a slip of paper, because you won't be able to check it through the Windows Explorer interface when the time comes to type the file name at the command prompt for deletion.

Okay, in this example, let's say the file you can't delete is "paininthebutt.exe" and it's located in

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents\Downloads\Game Demos\

When the time comes for you to delete an actual file, simply substitute the name and location of your file for the examples used here, and use the same commands ("dir", "cd" and "del").

6. You will see something similar to the following, and will then type "dir" at the prompt. In this
example, ">" always represents the prompt (without the quotes) - and after you type "dir", it will look like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel>dir

7. Hit "Enter" - this opens the Directory, and makes it possible to begin "changing directories", to work your way to the file you need to delete. The Directory "C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel" will re-appear, followed by the Directory listings and data, and the Directory name again, followed by the prompt, and still looking like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel>

8. Now, type "cd" at the prompt (for change directory), followed by a space (hit the space bar once), and for this example, you would next type "My Documents" (without the quotes). It will look like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\>cd My Documents

9. Hit "Enter"

10. The following will appear:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents>

11. Again, at the prompt, type "cd", a space, and "Downloads" - it should appear as:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents>cd Downloads

12. Hit "Enter"

The next directory (folder) appears, followed by the prompt, and looking like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents\Downloads>

13. You need to change directories once more, so at the prompt, you again type "cd", followed by a space, and the last directory (folder); in this example "Game Demos" - it will look like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents\Downloads>cd Game Demos

14. Hit "Enter" once more, and it's time for the actual file deletion - you will see the following:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents\Downloads\Game Demos>

15. At the prompt, type "del" (without quotes), followed by a space, and then type the name of the file to be deleted - in this example, "paininthebutt.exe" - it will look like this:

C:\Documents an...\Daniel\My Documents\Downloads\Game Demos>del paininthebutt.exe

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents\Downloads\Game Demos>del paininthebutt.exe

16. Hit "Enter", and you will know your file has been deleted when the directory re-appears:

C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\My Documents\Downloads\Game Demos>

Now, the final steps - return to the Task Manager, and

17. Click the "Applications" tab, and then click the "New Task" button.

18. Type "explorer.exe" in the New Task box (without the quotes), and click "OK".

Explorer (explorer.exe) re-opens, and you can now close the command window (type "exit" at the prompt and hit "Enter"). Your system and the appearance of your desktop is back to normal, NOW you can close the Task Manager - AND THE PROBLEM FILE HAS BEEN DELETED!

I hope this helps and isn't too confusing - it's basically pretty simple once you get the hang of it. It takes longer to read and understand how it's done - actual deletion of problem files takes no time at all after you've done it a couple of times - the first time is the tough one. GOOD LUCK !!!


Daniel D.
Santa Monica, CA

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by Pebkac / June 28, 2004 8:00 PM PDT

I run into this problem everyday with XP and through I have used many of the submitted ideas, I have found a shorter/easier way, to get files released, without rebooting.

If your SURE the file can/should be deleted then this is all you have to do:

Open Taskmanger>
1. Process Tab
A. Highlight explorer.exe
i. Rt click and select 'End Process'
ii. Click 'End Process' button.
2. Applications Tab
A. Click 'New Task..." button
B. Type 'explorer'
C. Click OK button.
3. Go delete the file.

Dont be nervous when the desktop loses all icons and the start bar goes away when the explorer process is killed. All will come back when you start the
new process.

I am not sure why this works, but it does, and I have had to do this daily since getting XP.

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go
by johnwhite71 / June 28, 2004 10:10 PM PDT

I personally ran into a similar problem when I had a virus. I was prevented from deleting the file, and could not prevent it from starting up by using the msconfig option because the virus disabled it.
I went to Norton's website on how to remove this virus/worm, and was told that I would have to do like a million things to get rid of it. Instead I came up with another solution.

My solution:
1. Disable System Restore -
Right Click on the My Computer Icon,
Left Click Properties
Click the System Restore Tab
Check the Turn off System Restore Box

2. Using Spybot's Search and Destroy Advanced Mode
http://www.spybot.info/
Click Tools/System Startup
Uncheck The File that you dont want start
(In this case it was the virus file)

3. Reboot the system, then delete the file

Spybot's Search and Destroy is a very valuable tool that not only checks for spyware/adware but also contains a couple nifty tools. One which allows you to disable startup items from within its own program as opposed to the msconfig, or having to start in safe mode. You can also shred the file for extra security using Spybot.

As a result, I disabled the feature, and easily removed the virus file.

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Re: 6/25/04 Deleting those stubborn files that just won't go

Simply re-name the subdirectory in which the file is located. Then, when you re-start your machine, the program that is using it will not be able to find and open the file and you can delete it.

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An Alternate for Deleting those stubborn files that won't go
by 0atmea1 / June 29, 2004 4:44 AM PDT

'
Hello Questionairs,,,,,,

I was reading through Pat C's answer
of last week, and one thing struck me
as not being addressed,,,,,, Pat C
never wrote about the file's extension,
the dot-Three Character designation
of any file,,,,,,, The file that was giving
the original questioner may have had
a problem with the extension,,,,,,,
Some files have an extension that
allows them to be hidden, while others may
have an extensions that are 'Read Only',,,,
It all depends on how any particular file
is archived by the software program that
originates it,,,,,

Hidden files may be read by using the
file format reader, and changing the
perameters to allow hidden files to be
read, (caution should be used here, as
all the hidden files will be seen, and
some of them are not to be tampered
with),,,,,, It might be well to reverse the
proceedure, once You are finished with
the file under discussion, and hide all
the hidden files again,,,,,

With 'Read Only' files, it may only be
necessary to change the extension to
be able to read them,,,,,,, Should that
not work, You may have to re-enter the
original software program that the file
was saved as 'Read Only',,,, Open the
file and delete all the information that
was stored there, and close the file,
being sure to save the changes that
Your have made, (the deletion of all
information will be seen as a change
within the file),,,,,,

Some help is good help, some help is
bad help, no help is usless,,,,,,

0atmea1
+

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