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Friday, April 9, 2010

Unlocking Locked Files

or Windows is Wonderful, Part 9489

This happens occaisionally on my Windows XP system: I am trying to move or delete a file on my computer and Windows pops up with a message like this:

In case the picture doesn't show up, the text of the message is
"Cannot move -filename-: It is being used by another person or program."
Notepad++ is a common culprit on my system. Closing a file is sometimes not sufficient to release it, however, closing the program will do the job.

Sometimes this error pops up and Notepad++ is nowhere to be found. Running checkdsk /f will usually fix it. It takes time though.

It happened again today, and it caught me in the mood to get to the bottom of it. I came across a couple of different suggestions. Here's one that sounded pretty good:
My solution, which works most of the time, is to ctrl-alt-del to bring up task manager. In there, shut down explorer.exe, then while still in task manager, hit file > run and restart explorer. Not really a solution, but the only workaround I've found.
It didn't work for me. Didn't do any harm either. It was a little spooky seeing all my desktop icons disappear, but then I restarted explorer and they all popped up again.

I finally gave up looking for a quick fix and downloaded the Unlocker program. It installed without a hitch (though it did put a shortcut to E-Bay on my desktop. What's up with that?), and when I ran into another locked file, it unlocked it without any fuss.

It seems like a too much fix for such a small problem, but evidently that's what it takes.

Update February 2017 replaced missing image.

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