Computer Help forum

General discussion

Finding what processes are using a file

Hi all,
Is there any way to figure out what processes are using a file in windows XP? There is a game instillation file on my desktop that I can't move, rename, or delete, even in safe mode, because it says that it is in use by another program. Any way to figure out what's going on? Thanks for your help!

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Finding what processes are using a file
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Finding what processes are using a file
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Process Explorer. . .

In reply to: Finding what processes are using a file

Google it.

Collapse -
Either I'm dumb as dirt

In reply to: Process Explorer. . .

or that is a totally useless program since nobody normal could figure it out. lol

I just ran into a situation right before reading this thread when I tried to 'erase' a file and was told it was in use by another process. I downloaded and tried to use this program figuring it would help me solve that problem, but nothing was coherent enough within the program to help me figure out what process was using what. Help file was about as much help as having an extra eyeball in the middle of my forehead, Wayne.

Not sure what I clicked on or when, but I got a new lower pane to open up that showed what MIGHT have been the process called PS5something-or-other but once that was showing, no right clicking, left clicking, nada could end that process.

I was finally able to be rid of the file by outright deleting it, then using Eraser to erase the Recycle Bin instead of being able to just right click file, choose Erase from the menu.


Collapse -
Actually a very useful utility Toni BUT...

In reply to: Either I'm dumb as dirt

with all it does it pays to LEARN how to use it b4efore just jumping in and going by-guess-and-by god.

When you downloaded it you should have read the info page:

It has a help file and that help file explains in detail how to search for what you want:

You can perform a handle search by selecting Find|Find Handle or by typing Ctrl+F; to perform a DLL search select Find|Find DLL or type Ctrl+G. Searches are case insensitive substring searches of all of the handles opened or DLLs loaded on the system with the text you enter. Thus, to search for the process or processes that have c:\directory\somefile.txt open enter enough text to make the search find only the results you are interested in e.g. "somefile".

The search dialog populates with the list of results indexed by process. Select a line in the results to have Process Explorer select the reported process and DLL or handle, and double-click on a line to have it do the same and dismiss the Search dialog.

Collapse -
Hm, still not working

In reply to: Actually a very useful utility Toni BUT...

Hey guys, thanks, but no luck so far. When I search for the install program on the list in process explorer, the only program that has lines associated with it is Windows Explorer itself. I even killed windows explorer and used the browse function in process explorer to try to delete the install file, and it still didn't work! What could be going on?

Collapse -
Try this

In reply to: Hm, still not working

Collapse -
That's for a Mac

In reply to: Try this

I didn't locate or see a windows version even with a google search.


Collapse -
(NT) Thanx Toni,I didn't realize that

In reply to: That's for a Mac

Collapse -
Try providing a bit more info...

In reply to: Hm, still not working

such as the exact name of the installation file that can't be deleted as well as exact error messages.

Are you the one who "placed" the file on the desktop or did it just magically appear one day? If you are the one, where did you get it from?

Not being "nosy" but that is all info that can point to a successful response because the "in use" error message doesn't always mean what it says.

Collapse -

In reply to: Try providing a bit more info...

Yes, I downloaded the file and put it on the desktop myself. It is the file that installs the demo of "7 Wonders" which is one of those puzzle games you can demo online. The file name is Wonders_Setup-dm.exe, and it is a downloader that downloads the files and installs the game. When I try to delete it or rename it, the error message says:

Cannot delete Wonders_Setup-dm: It is being used by another person or program.

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

Seems straightforward but this stupid file is really bugging me! Thanks for your help!

Collapse -
That is a bit better, now...

In reply to: Yes

since you appear to have downloaded it with a Bit Torrent client that client is likely the process that is using the file (keeps what you downloaded available for others downloads).

Try shutting down the client.

Collapse -
Oh, ok

In reply to: That is a bit better, now...

Any idea what the process would be called? I don't see any process with the word torrent in it. Thanks again for your help.

Collapse -
Use a tool called Filemon.exe provided by Microsoft.

In reply to: Finding what processes are using a file

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Best Black Friday Deals

CNET editors are busy culling the list and highlighting what we think are the best deals out there this holiday season.