Free Tools to Delete Locked / Undeletable / Busy / Currently-Used Files

Free utilities to erase or delete locked, undeletable, currently used files

Free Utilities to Delete/Erase Currently Used, Locked, Undeletable, Busy Files

The programs listed on this page are for situations where you have tried to delete, move or rename a file or folder (subdirectory) under Windows only to receive a dialog box with an error message like "Cannot delete [filename]: It is being used by another person or program. Close any programs that might be using the file and try again." (or some other message about sharing violation or the file being in use). In some cases, closing "any programs that might be using the file" is easier said than done, since you might not be able to detect which program is locking that particular file. (Sometimes the culprit is none other than Windows Explorer, or some DLL loaded by it.) The programs listed here work around this problem to delete the locked, busy, undeleteable or currently used file - some of them do this by scheduling the file to be deleted the next time you reboot the machine. Other programs close the handle that the process (program) has open on that file, and delete the file. Still others kill the process holding the file open before deleting it. And there are programs that try all of these methods (and possibly more) to remove the file that refused to be removed.

If you are looking for step-by-step instructions on how you can remove an undeletable file, check out's tutorial on How to Delete Undeletable, Locked, Busy or Currently In-Use Files in Windows.

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Free Windows Utilities to Delete Undeleteable, Currently In-Use, Locked, Busy Files


OpenedFilesViewer lets you see a list of files that are currently opened on your system as well as the process that is currently holding the file open. You can also close the handle of the file from within the program (although of course that may destabilise your system). This program works under Windows 2000, XP, and 2003. It also works on the 32 bit version of Windows 7, Vista, and 2008.


Unlocker uses a variety of methods to delete the persistent or locked files, including attempting to close the handle, killing the process holding the file open, unloading the DLL that may have open the file handle, scheduling the file to be deleted on the next reboot, etc. This Windows program integrates with Windows Explorer and can be accessed simply with a right click on the filename within Explorer. A command line interface is also available. WARNING: according to a user report, the installer for this program uses something called "OpenCandy", an advertisement-supported software installer, which will offer to install unrelated software on your system. Be sure to read what the installer says and uncheck whatever boxes you don't want, click Cancel or Skip (or whatever it's called) when necessary, rather than simply clicking "Next" blindly.


If you have ever received a message from Windows like "Cannot delete (filename). There has been a sharing violation. The source or destination file may be in use" when you tried to delete, move or rename a file, then this program may be helpful. It integrates with the Windows shell, and provides you a right click context menu that when used, identifies the processes (running programs) that have locked that file, preventing it from being deleted, moved or renamed.


FileAssassin deletes locked malware files using a variety of methods, including unloading modules, closing remote handles and terminating processes. You get to select the method that the program uses from its user interface. The program works in Windows 2000, XP, Vista and NT. There is also a portable version that you can use from a flash / USB drive.

UnLock IT

This utility allows you to identify the processes (running programs) that are keeping a particular file open (and thus preventing you from deleting, moving or renaming it) and terminate those processes.

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