Useful Tips

How and how to successfully delete undeletable folders and files?


One of the most popular utilities that can be used to force the removal and unlocking of objects on a computer running any version of the Windows system. Unlocker helps you delete the file by completing processes that block the action. In addition, it allows you to perform other actions on objects - moving and renaming. It is very convenient that after installing the application, the corresponding item appears on the context menu of the explorer (on the screen).

Description of the problem

If you open a certain file of a registered type in the corresponding program, for example, a text editor or music player, it cannot be deleted just like that, switching from the editor to Explorer and pressing “Delete”. The operating system will not allow erasing the data that is currently used in the PC. In this case, one process (launched by the user) tries to erase the file from the storage medium, and another process (launched by the operating system or another program) blocks the delete operation, believing that this will lead to a malfunction or some other problems.

In fact, each of these processes is important and necessary, but it happens that the file to be deleted is not opened by any program, and at the same time, the OS does not allow it to be deleted. As a rule, this is due to such reasons:

  • Incorrect closing of the file by the program or incorrect termination of the program itself in the last session of its operation.
  • A virus has entered the PC, and when trying to remove an infected program or the virus itself, it tries to defend itself, preventing it from easily eliminating itself.
  • The OS believes that some other user is currently working with the file - either from the same PC, or over the local network. Is this really so - it may not be known, or it is even known that there is no other user and cannot be. But to delete such a file in any case does not work.

Below, we’ll look at a few ways you can solve the problem of undeletable files.

Simple removal methods

Initially, we suggest you use simple methods to solve the problem (listed in order of speed of execution):

  • Reboot the PC. Oddly enough, but quite often it is this simple measure that allows you to complete the work of all OS processes and then successfully delete an unnecessary file.
  • Try to rename the file, if possible - then try deleting (do not forget to copy this file in advance if you may need it later).
  • Transfer the file to another logical drive / flash drive. If it works, delete it already from a new place.
  • Check the file attributes (you can change them in the "Properties" context menu item). Remove the attributes “read only”, “hidden”, “system”, “archive” and try to delete again.
  • Check the date the file was created and last modified. If it is clearly inadequate (according to the OS, the file was created in 1980 or the last time was changed in 2060), try changing the date to a realistic one and delete it.
  • If this file is typical and with the ability to change (for example, a text file in the format for “Word”), try opening it in the program corresponding to the file type, somehow change the contents, save the data in the new version, close the program and try to delete again . The same method may work with non-standard files, but the probability of a successful outcome is reduced.

A fairly simple method for deleting “busy” files and folders using the “Resource Monitor” and ending the blocking process is described in a short understandable video:

What should I do if I cannot delete a file / folder due to access rights?

No access to file / folder. To delete this file / folder, you must have “Administrator” rights - if such notifications appear when you try to delete a file / folder, you need to reconfigure the access rights. To do this, you will have to do the following manipulations (an example of deleting a folder):

  • We right-click on the folder, select "Properties" - "Security" - "Advanced".
  • In the line "Owner" we change the user to the one under which you are currently working in the system. To do this, you can click "Check Names", then put a bird in the line "Replace the owner of subcontainers and objects" and click "OK".
  • The Windows Security window will appear and for some time the OS will do a “Change of Owner”. Next, the PC asks: “Do you want to replace the permissions for this folder so that you have full access rights?”. Answer - "Yes."
  • Then again we see the "Properties" window, the "Security" tab. Click the “Change” button with the shield drawn, that is, just change our access rights to this folder, including the right to delete. For each user, put a check mark in the top line “Full access” and “OK”.
  • You will have to wait a certain period of time, now your access rights to the folder and objects inside it will already change. Do not forget to uncheck the "Read only" checkbox in the "General" properties tab, and confirm this change of attributes.

All manipulations to delete a locked folder or file can be seen in the video:

What programs can delete undeletable files?

If none of the above methods helped, then in this situation you already have to use tools to delete files.

One of the most popular file removal tools in the CIS that do not want to be deleted is Unlocker. It can be downloaded by clicking on the link to the developer's website:

There are both installable (built into the operating system) and portable versions. Each version has its own minor advantages and disadvantages, but a portable version is recommended for a one-time removal. However, if you regularly experience problems with deleting files, it is better to install Unlocker.

During installation, it is possible to install Unlocker Assistant. This assistant program is constantly visible in the "Taskbar" and will be automatically launched in cases where there will be problems with deletion.

Using the portable version of the program is very simple:

  • Launch Unlocker.
  • In the window that opens, select the desired file, and you will see processes that do not allow it to be deleted. These are "blocking descriptors."
  • At the bottom left there is an opportunity to choose options for actions - delete, unlock, transfer.

The principle of using the installed version is almost identical:

    Right-click on an intractable file. In the context menu there will be an item of the same name with a magic wand and an asterisk. Click on it:

Further - the same options.

Accept and reboot.

The following is a video that details how to work with the program:

Unlocker Analogs

Unfortunately, the official support for Unlocker ended on Windows 7 (which usually does not prevent it from working properly for later versions of the OS), but for failure-free operation under Windows 8 and Windows 10 it is better to use IObit Unlocker. The interface is very similar, Russified and in general does not cause any difficulties.

Unlike the previous program, this without fail will need to be launched on the computer in order to delete the necessary file. You can download the application from the link:>
Instructions for using the program:

  • Open the application and go to the “File” tab.
  • Select the file to be deleted.
  • We click on the file with the right mouse button, then select “Unlock” (unlock) or “Remove” (delete).

The disadvantage of this program is that it only supports the English interface.

Using Live-CD or Live-flash

A radical way to get rid of an unnecessary file is to launch the operating system not from the hard drive of your PC, but from a Live-CD or Live-flash. But for this you need at least the Live-CD itself plus a drive for it. It’s better if there is a Live-flash (the same, but on a flash drive, you don’t need a drive), then there is enough USB port:

  • Insert the Live media into the PC, boot from it (you may need to enter the BIOS).
  • Find the stubborn file on your HDD and erase it. The OS from the Live media will not mind in any case, since for it any file on your PC is a foreign body.
  • Turn off the PC, remove the live media and boot the computer. A previously undeleted file will be deleted.

For insecure users, it is better to refuse this method in favor of using special programs described above.

How to remove uninstalled programs

Some companies make it so that after installing their programs on your PC, you find some additional programs completely unnecessary to you, and you did not give conscious consent to install them. If it is not possible to remove such programs from the list of “Programs and components” using regular means along such a path as “Start” - “Properties” - “Programs” - “Uninstall a program”, uninstaller programs will come to the aid:

  • Revo Uninstaller Pro is one of the most popular programs for uninstalling other programs. Russified. Completely deletes all references to the removed software not only from the disk, but also from the registry. There is autoload management, permanently erases not only programs, but also unnecessary files, cleans browser histories (not all, can be checked by version) and document history in MS Office, automatically updated. The unique “hunter mode” allows you to find and delete a program that is not listed in the list of programs.
  • IObit Uninstaller Free - removes the entire package associated with an unwanted program. In addition, it has the function of forced removal, which helps to demolish the most "stubborn" programs. Allows you to "roll back" Windows updates. Disables browser extensions and plugins. Creates a list of installed programs and saves to a file. Keeps a history of his work (removal of programs).
  • Advanced Uninstaller Pro. Deletes cookies, sets toolbars in browsers. Optimizes the registry file. There is even a font manager for Windows!

If the case turned out to be very difficult, try paid versions of uninstallers, for example, Uninstall Tool. If they did not help, it remains to contact the support service, where a qualified specialist will help you.

How to remove deleted files from a flash drive

Most of the above methods are suitable for deleting files from a USB flash drive. In addition, you will always have in stock the "last argument" - full formatting. After it, there will be no files, folders, or viruses on the flash drive.

So, if there is such a situation when it is impossible to delete a file by conventional means, because the operating system (more precisely, some visible or hidden process) believes that the files are still in operation, you can use the above instructions to successfully delete and get rid of an unnecessary file.


In the window that opens after launch, a list of all processes and programs that prevent getting rid of an unnecessary file will be shown. That is, you can view so as not to close an important process. Now you need to select the action that you want to do with the folder, and then unlock or delete the process (click on the appropriate buttons below). In our case, the file is deleted.

About app

The iObit Unlocker program will cope with the destruction of a folder or file that cannot be deleted from the hard drive by conventional means. This is a powerful tool that will help in solving problems associated with the lack of access to files and folders. It allows you to work with locked data when they are busy with system processes. It is worth noting that the utility detects blockages, and then provides a choice - end the conflict process / program, try to unlock it and perform an action (delete, rename, move, copy). At the same time, it is possible to forcefully close all associated processes that interfere with the deletion of files (folders) and do not allow access to them.

Object selection

After double-clicking on the program shortcut on the desktop, the main main window will appear on the screen. By clicking the “Add” button, you can select a file or directory. The application is also integrated into the context menu of the system as a separate item. Select the object, right-click and in the list marks IObit Unlocker as shown in the screenshot.

Basic removal methods

Before resorting to "heavy artillery" in the role of specialized software, you can try simple methods elimination of not deleted elements:

  • Reboot computer. A simple but quite effective way. After rebooting, all third-party programs are closed and the necessary element may not yet be occupied by the application.
  • Rename may also help. First, rename the file, and then try to get rid of it.
  • Transfer to another place. We cut out the element and paste it on another disk, and then delete it.
  • Check properties. To do this, right-click on the file or folder and select "properties". On the first tab, uncheck all the boxes with attributes "System", "read only" and others.
  • If the file can change (for example, this is a Word document), you can open it, make any changes and save. After that, we try to delete it again.

If none of the methods listed above helps, move on to the next section.

No permissions

Sometimes it happens that the local user simply does not have enough rights to the deleted object.

To change rights per file you need:

  • Right-click on the file, select "The properties».
  • Go to bookmark Security and press the button Additionally.
  • We are looking for the field “Owner"And click on"Edit"To specify the user you are working with.
  • In field introduce username and click Check Names. Then confirm change by clicking OK.
  • Click everywhere OKto go to the first security tab. In the process, the system will ask confirm change, and for a while the PC will change the rights.
  • After that, you need to set permissions for users, for which we click the "Edit».
  • Here we need to click on each user or group and tick Allow opposite Full access.
  • Click again everywhere OK, and again we expect while the system to update access rights.

This completes the setup, you can try the removal.

Unlocker to remove

If none of the methods helped, then move on to using programs. The most popular application is Unlocker. It can be found on the developer's site. Full software is free.

The application allows unlock not deleted file and get rid of it.

There are two versions of the program - installable and portable.

Portable version allows you to use the program without installation, which is convenient enough if it is not planned to be used in the future.

The operation algorithm is quite simple:

  • We search for not deleted object, then we call context menu right click where we are looking for the item Unlocker
  • Get the list applicationsthat use the file. There are options: either immediately remove an object by selecting an action from the bottom left, or unlock file or folder, and then delete manually.

In cases where the file is occupied by the system process, the program suggest reload computer. We agree and wait for the removal.

Other software

There are several analogues the above program, although they are quite few.

One of the most popular is iObitUnlocker. It is included in the iObit application package. All actions in it are similar to Unlocker.

Another application - Deadlock. Use is also not difficult.

We launch program and look for the necessary item to remove.

Then in the list, right-click on the item and select UnlockRemove.

No more actions are needed.

How to remove uninstalled programs

Programs may also refuse to be deleted. I come across software that simply no delete function from the computer. In this case, you can use the following utilities:

  • RevoUninstallerPro - A common application to remove programs from a computer. Has a Russian-language interface. Allows you to completely erase all traces of the program from the computer, because cleans system files and registry. In addition, it has a lot of useful functions - controls autoload, cleans up unnecessary files and browser history, and much more. Able to search for applications that do not have an uninstaller.
  • IObit Uninstaller Free- a free application to uninstall. Able to work with system updates, in particular, rolls back Windows updates. There is a procedure forced uninstall software. It can work with browser extensions.
  • Advanced Uninstaller Pro - Another tool that includes the capabilities of the above programs. In addition, there is a registry optimization feature.

Why is he still here?

If you are not interested in the reasons why the data is not deleted, then you can immediately proceed to the methods of destruction. For the more curious, the following are the most common reasons:

  • Blocking by antivirus.
  • Use by another application.
  • Using data by another user on the local network.
  • Use of the file by the system.
  • Lack of administrator rights.
  • Protect your device from writing.

Depending on the reason, methods for deleting stubborn data differ. If they are used by the system, then restarting or starting Windows in safe mode will help.

If you do not have enough administrator rights, then you need to log in with the appropriate account. In general, let's analyze in detail the available methods - one or two will definitely save you.

Search for links

The first way is to restart the computer. In any incomprehensible situation, first reboot the system. If after a reboot the information still remains inaccessible for deletion, then try to start the system in safe mode. I already told you how to do it on Windows 10. Everything is simpler on the “seven” - there is a cool F8 key that launches the boot mode selection menu.

If rebooting and safe mode do not help, look for information about the file in antivirus quarantine. It happens: an anti-virus utility blocks malicious data, preventing the system from accessing it. Accordingly, it is also impossible to remove them, which is somewhat illogical. But if you disable protection for 10 minutes, you can safely erase undeletable data. The above actions, of course, must be performed from the administrator account, otherwise nothing will work.

If you have problems uninstalling the application, then see the list of running processes and the list of autoruns. How to do it:

  1. Call the task manager using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. Click the Processes tab and look for the process with the name of the application that you cannot delete. Highlight it and click Finish.
  3. Go to the "Startup" tab and remove the same annoying program from the list.

Everything in one window can only be done on Windows 10. If you have the eternal "seven", then open the startup list through the "System Configuration" (Win + R - msconfig).

The task manager on Windows 7 starts the same way as on other versions of the OS from Microsoft - a combination of Ctrl + Shift + Esc.

Unlock and destroy

If you tried the above methods and are already descending into the comments to write something like "difficult" or "does not help", then give me the opportunity to correct. Removing undeletable files is not limited to using Windows tools. In difficult cases, you can not do without third-party software - a file manager or a program for unlocking.

Let's start with the file manager Total Commander. It is good because it can circumvent some of the prohibitions of Windows and shows hidden data (however, FAR Manager can do this too).

Install Total Commander and find the file or folder that does not want to leave your computer. Highlight and press F8.

If the folder is not deleted, open it through Total Commander and see what's inside. If there is any hidden file, look for it by name in the task manager on the Processes tab. If you find, complete the process and try again to erase the directory through Total Commander.

And finally - one of the most famous ways to delete undeletable data. It is about using the Unlocker program, which can be downloaded for free.

After installing Unlocker, the item with the same name appears in the context menu of files and folders. Clicking on it opens a program window in which options for further work are available.

You need to select the process in the list and remove it from the list of running or unlock. I usually press the “Unlock” button, and then erase the data in the traditional way - by pressing the Delete key.

Instead of Unlocker, you can use other programs: LockHunter, IObit Unlocker or Free File Unlocker. These are proven utilities that will help to cope with system messages such as "Access Denied" during deletion.