If You Cannot Delete the Folder

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How to Force Delete a File That Cannot Be Deleted Windows 11/10

If you can’t delete files in Windows 11/10, check the 4 ways in this post on how to delete files that cannot be deleted on your Windows 11/10 computer.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
1. Force to Delete a File Go to Start, type Task Manager, and choose “Task Manager” to open it…Full steps
2. Delete Files/Folders Using CMD Press the Windows key + R and type cmd to open the Command Prompt…Full steps
3. Use Safe Mode to Delete Files Open “Settings” > Click on “Update & Security” > Click on “Recovery” > Under “Advanced Startup”…Full steps
4. Using a Third-party Tool Launch BitWiper, right-click the partition you want to erase…Full steps

Delete a File or Folder in Windows Using Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a diagnostics mode that starts Windows in a basic state with a limited set of drivers and files. You can delete files or folders in Safe Mode, which you’d otherwise not be able to delete before. 

Enter Safe Mode, find the file or folder you want to delete, and then reboot your PC to exit Safe Mode.

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Cause 2: The file is being used

You can’t delete a file if the file is being used. To resolve this issue, determine the process that has the open handle, and then close that process.

Depending on how the file is opened, you may not be able to delete a file that’s in use. For example, the file is open for exclusive access instead of shared access. You can use various tools to determine the processes that have open handles to files whenever you want.

The symptoms of this issue may vary. You can use the Delete command to delete a file. But the file isn’t deleted until the process that has the file open releases the file. Additionally, you may not be able to access the Security dialog box for a file that’s pending deletion. To resolve this issue, determine the process that has the open handle, and then close that process.

Cause 4: Files exist in paths that are deeper than MAX_PATH characters

You can’t open, edit, or delete a file if there are issues with the file path.

Resolution 1: Use an autogenerated 8.3 name to access the file

To resolve this issue, you may want to use the autogenerated 8.3 name to access the file. This resolution may be the easiest resolution if the path is deep because the folder names are too long. If the 8.3 path is also too long or if 8.3 names have been disabled on the volume, go to Resolution 2. For more information about disabling 8.3 file names on NTFS volumes, see How to disable the 8.3 name creation on NTFS partitions.

Resolution 2: Rename or move a deep folder

Rename the folder so that the target files that are deeper than the MAX_PATH no longer exist. If you do so, start at the root folder or any other convenient place. Then rename folders so that they have shorter names. If this step doesn’t resolve this issue, for example, if a file is more than 128 folders deep, go to Resolution 4.

Resolution 3: Map a drive to a folder in the structure of the path

Map a drive to a folder inside the structure of the path of the target file or folder. This method shortens the virtual path.

For example, suppose you have a path that is structured as follows:

\\ServerName\SubfolderName1\SubfolderName2\SubfolderName3\SubfolderName4\...

In this path, the total character count is over 255 characters. To short the length of this path, to 73 characters, map a drive to SubfolderName4.

Resolution 4: Use a network share that is as deep as the folder

If resolutions 1, 2, and 3 aren’t convenient or don’t resolve the issue, create a network share that’s as deep in the folder tree as you can. Then rename the folders by accessing the share.

Resolution 5: Use a tool that can traverse deep paths

Many Windows programs expect the maximum path length to be shorter than 255 characters. These programs only allocate enough internal storage to handle these typical paths. NTFS doesn’t have this limit, and it can hold much longer paths.

You may experience this issue if you create a share at some point in your folder structure that’s already fairly deep, and then create a deep structure below that point by using the share. Some tools that operate locally on the folder tree may not be able to traverse the whole tree starting from the root. You may have to use these tools in a special way so that they can traverse the share. The CreateFile API documentation describes a method to traverse the whole tree in this situation.

Typically, you can manage files by using the software that creates them. If you have a program that can create files that are deeper than MAX_PATH, you can typically use that same program to delete or manage the files. You can typically delete files that are created on a share by using the same share.

Method 3 Try Unlocker

Unlocker is a free program that does a great job of telling you which programs or processes are currently holding locks on the folder. Note that when you install it, you do need to make sure you don’t install any of the special offer software. The program is not malware or spyware, but it does ask you to install other programs, so you have to click on Skip a couple of times.

Once installed, it’ll add an option to your right-click context menu. Go to the folder in Explorer, right-click and choose Unlocker.

Now you will get a pop up window either stating there are currently no locks or you’ll get a list of processes/programs that have locks on the folder:

There may be many processes listed and so you have a couple of options at the bottom. You can either kill the process, unlock or unlock all.

Unlock will let you select one particular item and unlock it. If you want to release all locks on the folder, just click Unlock All. It’s a very effective tool and usually will solve your problem. If none of the above mentioned methods worked, your last choice is below.

Bonus Tips – How to Recover Deleted Files or Folders

There are times you mistakenly deleted a needed file on your Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7 computers, we also provide you with additional help. You can recover deleted files with easy-to-use data recovery software. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is my recommendation. It is the best file recovery software that allows you to:

  • Restore data from internal and external hard drives, SSD, USB flash drive, SD card, etc.
  • Retrieve lost videos, photos, Word files, music, and more.
  • Repair corrupt/damaged photos, and .
  • Download and install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your computer and follow the operations below to recover deleted files.

Step 1. Select the location to scan

Choose the specific device and drive where you have permanently deleted files using Shift delete or emptying recycle bin. Then, click the “Scan” button to find lost files.

Step 2. Check the results

Step 2. Check the results

The software will automatically start scanning all over the selected drive. When the scan completes, select the “Deleted Files” and “Other Lost Files” folders in the left panel. Then, apply the “Filter” feature or click the “Search files or folders” button to quickly find the deleted files.

Step 3. Recover deleted files

Step 3. Recover deleted files

Select the deleted files and click “Preview”. Next, click “Recover” to save them to another secure location or device.

Solution 2. Reboot the Computer

In many cases, restarting the computer is conducive to fixing many computer errors and abnormal performance, including deleting undeletable files and folders. Sometimes, the file is in the unknown progress after you open some certain applications. By rebooting the computer, you can end the tasks, close the apps, and thus remove files successfully.

To restart a computer, go to the Start menu, click the Power button, and choose “Restart”.

You can also resort to the Settings to do the same

You can also resort to the Settings to do the same.

  1. Go to the “Settings” window by clicking the gear icon in the Start menu.
  2. Go to “Update & Security” > “Recovery” > “Advanced startup” > “Restart now”.

After restarting the computer, you can try deleting files or folders or move on to get another solution for removing data in Windows.

Warnings

  • Deleting system files will ruin your computer, at which point you’ll either need to reinstall your computer’s operating system or buy a new computer.

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Method 2. Modify Folder’s (or File’s) Permissions

1. In Windows explorer, right click at the folder that you cannot delete and select Properties. 2. Select the Security tab and then click Advanced.

3. Click Change Owner

4. In the object name box type, type the name of the Administrator account (e.g. “User1” in this example) and then click OK.

5. Check the “Replace Owner on subcontainers and objects” checkbox and then click OK & OK again to close the security settings.

6. Now try to delete the folder (or the file) that you cannot delete. If you receive the same message, then proceed to method-3 below.

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