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Cannot Delete a File

by yoyosgolf / January 22, 2005 9:19 AM PST

I am trying to delete a file on an external hard drive. When I try to delete it I receive the message "Cannot delete Wedding Movie: it is being used by another person or program.

Close any programs that might be using the file and try again."

I cannot find any other files that are running. It is an .avi file. It is about 1GB in size. I have only 512 MB of RAM. I am running XP SP1.

Thanks for any help you might be able to provide.

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Have you tried Safe Mode? Directions here
by roddy32 / January 22, 2005 9:23 AM PST
In reply to: Cannot Delete a File
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And If Roddy's Method Doesn't Get It Done...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / January 22, 2005 9:35 AM PST
In reply to: Cannot Delete a File
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If using Safe mode doesn't work try this.
by Tufenuf / January 22, 2005 9:37 AM PST
In reply to: Cannot Delete a File
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I have difficulty with XP
by TONI H / January 22, 2005 8:07 PM PST

trying to get to the correct path of where the file is located because the same path parameters used in previous versions of windows don't normally work in XP. (Program Files or Progra~1 or ProgramFiles as an example) Another great example is Documents and Settings vs Docume~1 vs DocumentsandSettings

I also get a 'parameter incorrect' message so most times the command prompt for me is useless in XP if the file or directory I want to get to is buried somewhere other than a simple path. in hell do you get to the C: prompt in that dos window? It always defaults to C:\Windows> and the cd command won't take you back to just C:> and typing just C: doesn't do it either. I have the same problem with other drives, such as E: if I have changed to that drive and then typed cd E:\program since once I get into the right directory and need to get back to the root of E: to continue, it won't go back. I've tried the . and .. and other things I can remember from dos but nothing seems to work like it used to.


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Toni, XP uses unicode so...
by Edward ODaniel / January 23, 2005 12:01 AM PST

you can simply type the path that XP normally uses.

For example do the following:

1. Open a command prompt and type cd / (or cd .. if you prefer because cd / changes to the root directory and cd .. changes to the current directory's parent directory) (press enter)
2. Type cd Program Files (press enter)
3. You should now be in the Program Files directory. In the rare event that your Registry Setting has been altered you will get the old "Incorrect parameter" or "system cannot find path specified" you simply enclose the path in quotes (cd "program files")
3. Be aware that you have both COMMAND.COM and CMD.EXE as command interpreters and they handle commands differently as COMMAND.COM is for compatibility with the 16 bit subsystem and functions like the win 9X versions you are used to.

You aren't in Kansas any more Toni! Wink

You can now do ANYTHING from the command line that often required the GUI in the hybrid Win 9X.

Here is a helpful link to the XP CLI commands:

You can get additional command line and GUI tools for XP from this link (although they are for Server 2003 you will see, under system requirements at the bottom of the page, that they also work in Windows XP):

PS - CMD.EXE by default also allows you to access command history from the open Command window either using the up and down arrow keys or by using the F7 key (allows to select command), the F8 key (cycles the commands), or the F9 key to select command by number.

If you are not making use of the Command Prompt you are missing a lot of what the OS can do.

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I didn't think to use the space/
by TONI H / January 23, 2005 7:39 AM PST

Thanks, Ed.......I really do use the command prompt often in XP. I can usually maneuver around pretty well with it but getting it back to the root directory drove me crazy. Many times I would wind up booting up with the W98 bootdisk and get to the A: prompt and go from there with what I needed to do when XP would cause my patience level to drop considerably. LOL For some reason, things work right there for me.


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Tried all of the above and no luck
by yoyosgolf / January 23, 2005 3:27 AM PST

I tried using safe mode and DeleteOnBoot with no luck. I have not been able to follow what Tufenuf advised. When I am in the Command Prompt window, I can not change the directory to my J Drive using the chdir command. My J drive is an external drive connected thru a USB port. I have also tried Norton's CleanSweep program with no success. This issues is really slowing my performance. I would appreciate any more suggestions.

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What video player are you using?
by Coryphaeus / January 23, 2005 3:39 AM PST

Is this player set to start up on boot up? If so, stop it and try again.

Can you shift/right click the file in question and change the "Open with" setting. Set it to something like Notepad. Make sure you DO NOT check the box to "Always open with". After you change the open with, try to delete it.

Good luck,

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YEA!! File deleted
by yoyosgolf / January 23, 2005 4:01 AM PST

I finally was able to delete the file using the method suggested by Tufenuf. Thanks to all who offered suggestions. This forum is the best!

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If MoveOnBoot did not work...
by Edward ODaniel / January 23, 2005 4:07 AM PST

you either didn't point it to the specific file or there is more happening that you are not telling us.

If you can see the J drive in Windows Explorer then you can change to it in a Command Prompt with the command CD J:

One other thing to consider is that if for some reason the file name including path exceeds 254 characters you may not be able to access the file and will get the various error messages. The cure then is to rename one of the parent directories temporarily to a much shorter name, delete the file, rename the directory back to its original name. What is the EXACT path to the file INCLUDING its exact file name?

In addition one of the following links may hold your answer:
HOW TO: Take Ownership of a File or Folder in Windows XP;en-us;308421&sd=tech

HOW TO: Set, View, Change, or Remove File and Folder Permissions in Windows XP;en-us;308418

You Cannot Delete a File or a Folder;en-us;320081

Delete "Unremovable" File .

If for some reason the J: drive is showing as a network share the following would apply

LAST but certainly NOT LEAST (since you mention it is a "movie" -


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