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Can’t Delete Files

I Can’t Delete My Files!

If you cannot delete files when using Microsoft Windows XP or any earlier version of windows, it is most typically due to a right sharing violation with the file.

To put that into simpler terms, whenever a file is being used by a program, that program has “the rights” to that file. If another program tries to access this file while it is being used, a rights sharing violation occurs.

You may have noted these errors whenever you tried to unsuccessfully delete a file. Depending on the operating system you are using, these errors will be syntactically different, but have the same meaning; i.e., you are trying to delete the file without the “rights” to that file.

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What Do I Do?

So the question then becomes, “How do I get my rights to delete the file.” Simple enough, if you cannot delete a file because another program has the rights, simply terminate the program using the file.

This may be as simple as closing some programs running in the task bar, like Microsoft Word or Firefox. If the programs you are running are not visible in the task bar, you may need go to your system tray (located in the lower right hand corner of your screen) and shut down the program from there.

Simply right click on the icons and exit each program you suspect to be holding the rights to the file you cannot delete. If you still cannot delete files you want deleted, you will have to go one step further: the task manager.

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What Is The Task Manager? 

The task manager is a utility of Windows is a powerful tool that can help you delete files you cannot delete. To access the task manager hold down ctrl + alt + delete at the same time. Make sure you do not do this twice, otherwise Windows will shut down.

Windows Task Manager

Once at the task manager, you can view all applications and system processes currently running. If you know the specific application using the file you cannot delete, you can terminate it safely from the task manager.

If it is a system process you know that is using the file, you can terminate the system process by clicking the “processes” tab, highlighting the process and clicking “end process.”

Don’t be too afraid to click “end process,” if you try to end any process that is vital to keeping Windows afloat, Windows will notify you and give you a second chance to make sure you know what you are doing.

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What If I Am Unsure Of What To Shut Down? 

If you are unsure what application or process is using a file, you are really left with only one choice. You will have to close processes and applications at random and try deleting the file. But don’t fret, try looking where the file is located, this should give you a clue as to what applications and processes are using that file.

One trick you may want to try to speed this process up is restarting Windows and trying to delete the file immediately after startup.

If you are certain that no other program is using the files you cannot delete, you may have a rarer problem; one which may or may not need a professional. Renaming files is another quick fix you can use if you cannot delete files.

For example, if the file is a DivX AVI, you may have to rename the file (any name will suffice) and then deleting it due to a conflict DivX AVI files have with Windows XP.

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