Can't Delete a File or Folder Because It's In Use? Unlock it with Unlocker!

I recently (and luckily) stumbled upon a very useful freeware app that in just a few weeks of use has helped me a handful of times slay the computing world's equivalent of a gnat:

Grrrr! This is a very unwelcome sight!

It's so aggravating to try to delete, rename, or move a file or folder and not be able to so. As the creator of Unlocker states on their page, there are several similar warnings you might have encountered when trying to delete a file or folder:
  • There has been a sharing violation.
  • Cannot delete file: Access is denied
  • The file is in use by another program or user.
  • Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.
  • The source or destination file may be in use.
I used to try to identify the process with Task Manager (and later, with more success, Sysinternal's Process Explorer) and then kill it. Using Task Manager wasn't efficient at all; Process Explorer improved this process but Unlocker beats using Process Explorer because it already knows what process(es) has locked the file or folder rather than requiring you to sleuth it out as Process Explorer does.

So the next time you encounter any of these messages, try Unlocker. Just right-click on the file or folder you cannot move or delete and select "Unlocker":


(As an alternative to manually right-clicking on a locked file, you can have Unlocker Assistant running in the background. Unlocker Assistant will launch Unlocker automatically if you are trying to delete, move, or rename a locked file.)

At that point the Unlocker window appears, showing the locked file(s) and presents you with the choices of "Kill Process," "Unlock," or "Unlock All." Kill will stop any single process; unlock will halt the locking action of a single process; unlock all releases every lock on a file.

You'll find that most of the time one of these Unlocker actions will solve the problem. If a file cannot be unlocked, though, you can specify that it be dealt with at the next reboot. Furthermore, using Unlocker is safe. It does not delete files; it just frees them up for actions you want to take.

If you are an advanced user and like to script, Unlocker has command line options that you can view by typing "Unlocker -H" -- nice.

For that reason, I highly encourage you to click the link above and visit the Unlocker page to read more about it and download it. I don't think you'll be disappointed. It hasn't failed me yet.

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