Technology Advice by Ryan Taylor Adams

Why Do I Get an Error When I Try to Delete a File/folder?

December 13th, 2007 · No Comments · Printer Friendly Version


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Every now and then, Windows will prevent you from deleting a specific file or folder. When you try to delete such a file or folder, Windows pops up an error that says “Cannot delete [file name]: It is being used by another person or program.” If you get such an error, check the following:

  • The file you are trying to delete isn’t opened (for example, you can’t delete a Word document if it is still open).
  • The file or folder isn’t part of a running program.
  • The file or folder isn’t open on another account (if you have multiple user accounts)

If none of those situations are true, and you still can’t delete the file or folder try the following:

  • Wait. Try deleting the file or folder after waiting 30 seconds.
  • Restart your computer and then try deleting the file or folder.

If neither of those work, the file or folder might be important to the operation of your computer. Ensure you know what the file/folder is, and that you really want to delete it before doing the following:

  • Reboot into safe mode (restart your computer, and start tapping “F8” as it boots. Use the arrow keys to highlight “Safe Mode” and press enter when prompted), then try deleting the file or folder.
  • Use a program like MoveOnBoot to delete the file or folder.