Sometimes you may not be able to delete a particular file in Windows. This is because the file is being used by another process. You will see messages like these:
Cannot delete files: Access is denied OR The file you’re trying to modify is being used by Windows or other application
Many times the reason why the file is locked will not be known as you may not have any open applications using that file. Certain malware or viruses also lock files and folders and prevent their deletion.
It is possible to delete locked files using the command prompt but the easier way is to install a tool to unlock files. Here are 4 tools to unlock files.
IObit Unlocker is a free, light-weight and simple tool that enables the deletion, renaming or moving of files and folders locked by other processes. It terminates all the related processes that may be locking a particular file.
To unlock a file or folder using IObit Unlocker, you can either right-click on it and choose “IObit Unlocker” or open the app directly and drag and drop the file onto it. The use of the tool is fairly straightforward.
FilExile is a free and open source application designed for unlocking locked files and folders. It comes with a simple and easy to use interface, safety features to prevent deletion of important files, logging and also command line arguments. It is also available as a portable application.
LockHunter is a free tool for deleting locked files. It is also useful for identifying malware and other programs that may be blocking files without any particular reason. An advantage is that LockHunter deletes files and folders to the recycle bin so that if the file is deleted accidentally, you can restore it. LockHunter also comes with an option of scheduling the deletion of files at next system restart.
To unlock a file or folder using LockHunter, simply right on the file or folder and click on “What is locking this file?” or “What is locking this folder?”
LockHunter will open up and display you the options.
EMCO UnLock IT
Unlock IT is a freeware from EMCO software that allows you to unlock files and folders with ease. In comparison to IObit Unlocker and LockHunter, Unlock IT comes with a more complex interface and also includes many other functions.
Note: You should be careful while using these utilities as unlocking or deleting certain files can cause problems with open applications and make them unusable. You should never unlock or delete Windows system files as it can result in the operating system becoming unusable.