My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Deleting an Undeletable or Locked File using Window Task Manager, Fedora or Unlocker

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Deleting an Undeletable or Locked File using Window Task Manager, Fedora or Unlocker

Ever met a file or archive on your computer you just simply can’t delete? Worse, Windows is giving you a hard time to even OPEN the file. This is happening to me RIGHT now as I type this article as I munch on my Excelsior Cinnamon Crackers and Grace Guava Jam. I have several Word Files on my new 8 GB Lexar Thumb Drive that I affectionately call “STARFIRE”.

What’s a Jamaican to do! Turns out there’s a lot I CAN do actually…..

If you remember, awhile back I had a serious meltdown where I almost lost all of my files but I was able to successfully recover them as describe in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to recover Data from your Damaged Thumb Drive or ZIP Archive”. I’ve since replaced my 4GB Kingston Thumb Drive with a new 8 GB Lexar Thumb Drive, also christened STARFIRE as I’m a very Big Teen Titans Fan!

However today’s problem isn’t just on my computer but is something that I encounter often whenever I fix computers on the road while doing Data Recovery or even Backups; Files that just can’t be copied, even when I use Teracopy. Not only can I not delete them, but I just can’t open them – and I have the correct version of Microsoft Word!

The main culprit? Windows Explorer!

Windows Explorer, (not the Browser, Internet Explorer!), controls the Desktop, which is really nothing more than just a folder in Windows Root. It locks files that are in use, effectively preventing deletion. The behavior of these files is akin to that pesky Trojan or Worm that can infect Thumb Drives and make your files disappear, for which a bootable copy of Fedora and a little Command Line provides the perfect remedy as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to recover a files made invisible by malware using Fedora and Command”.

So on a day like this, my brain had to go into overdrive to fix this problem. A little reading and I realized I already had the solution: Kill Windows Explorer or just get Windows out of the equation completely. To this end there are three (3) ways to delete or even undeletable files, specifically the Microsoft Word Files in Question.

Before you begin, make sure you have some Excelsior Cinnamon Crackers and Grace Guava Jam Handy, as it makes troubleshooting this problem easier!

Bootable Linux – An Out Call Computer Technician’s Best Friend

First you need to have a bootable copy of a Linux Distribution, be it Fedora or Ubuntu. If you had read my Geezam blog article entitled “How to boot or install Fedora Linux on your laptop or computer from a Thumb Drive and created once such or even burned the Fedora *.iso file as a bootable CD, then you’re good-to-go for this next DIY (Do it Yourself) to recover your files.

Just set your computer or Laptop to boot from the CD/DVD ROM Drive (F12, F11 or Esc depending on the computer!) and once on the Linux desktop, search for the Hard-drive for your computer or laptop and navigate to the File. You can then choose to delete it or move it somewhere else or even attempt to open it as it may be recoverable.

Windows Task Manager – Explorer Must Die to Kill Bill this Unforgiven File

The next solution is to kill Windows Explorer. This might require writing down some information with a pen and paper, so make sure you have them hand to copy off the information before you do this step. Here go people; get your brain and Excelsior Cinnamon Cracker and Grace Guava Jam in gear!

  1. Click on the Start Menu
  2. Select All Programs then Accessories and then Run to load the Command Line Window
  3. Type cd\ to get to Root C:\>.
  4. Navigate to the location of the locked file
  5. Press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC to get the Windows Task Manager
  6. Select the Processes tab
  7. Select  explorer.exe; that’s the file that run Windows Explorer
  8. Press the “End Process” button to kill explorer.exe
  9. The Windows Desktop will disappear except for the Screensaver
  10. Go back to the Command Prompt
  11. Use the DEL file to delete the pesky file
  12. Optionally you can use RENAME, MOVE or XCOPY to rename, move or copy the file
  13. Go back to Windows Task Manager  
  14. Select File and then New Task
  15. Type explorer.exe in the “create new task” field
  16. Press OK to restore Windows Desktop
  17. Close the Command Prompt by typing exit

When Laziness Strikes - Unlocker is your friend for life to remove the Undeletable

If, however, like me, you really can’t bother with jumping through these technical hoops, even if you have a good supply of Excelsior Cinnamon Crackers and Grace Guava Jam, you might want a simple software solution. I have just the thing!

Unlocker  is a freeware program that does all of the above and more and come highly recommended as I currently use it on my computer. It’s especially useful if you:

  1. Cannot delete file: Access is denied
  2. There has been a sharing violation
  3. The source or destination file may be in use
  4. The file is in use by another program or user

Before you use Unlocker, make sure the Hard-drive isn’t write-protected and that the file is not currently in use. Upon installing the software, a new option named “unlocker” will appear upon right click of any files. To unlock a locked file, just right click it and select Unlocker.

A windows popup box appears and gives you various options as to what to do with your pesky file similar to the more involved solutions above.

So there you have it folks! I’ve fixed my pesky undeletable file problem and

Then you can go back to enjoying your Excelsior Cinnamon Crackers and Grace Guava Jam. As for me, my file is now recovered and ready to publish on my website… I can Unlock it!

Here’s the link:

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