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Deleting Undeletable Files in Microsoft Windows XP

One of the most frustrating things when trying to uninstall programs, running virus scans, or just replacing corrupted files is when Windows XP tells you "access denied" for any number of reasons. The reasons can include:

1. Cannot delete file: Access is denied
2. Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.
3. The file is in use by another program or user.
4. The source or destination file may be in use.

After trying several different ways to delete the files, you start looking around for programs that can get rid of them. While there are a few free programs out there which can do what you need, they often have requirements of their own. Instead of spending hours looking for and downloading programs which may or may not work, perhaps you should consider using a method which is immediately available to you - not to mention free.

First, click Start, Search, All Files and Folders", and type in the name of the file you cannot remove. Make sure that the Look In box is set to the correct drive letter. When the search is complete right click on the file and select properties. Write down the path to the file. For example:

C:\Documents and Settings\Your Computer Name\Local Settings\Temp\nonremovablefilename.exe

Next, close the search box, click on Start, Run, and type CMD and Press Enter to open a Command Prompt window. Leave the Command Prompt window open and close all other programs. When that is complete click Start, Run, type TASKMGR.EXE, and then press Enter. This will start the Task Manager.

Once the Task Manager is open, click on the Processes tab. Next, locate Explorer.exe and click on End Process. You can then minimize the Task Manager window, or close it. If you're unsure you can get it to restart by holding the Ctrl+Alt+Delete buttons, just minimize it.

In the Command Prompt window, start by typing cd and then the path to the file. For example:

cd Documents and Settings\Your Computer Name\Local Settings\Temp

Once you are in the correct directory type: del nonremovablefilename.exe

If you have followed the previous steps the file should now be gone. If you got an error message, check to make sure that you typed in the correct file name, and then check to see if you are in the right directory. The latter should be on the Command Prompt screen. For example:

C:\Documents and Settings\Your Computer Name\Local Settings\Temp\

If you only minimized the Task Manager hit the Alt+Tab keys to bring it back up. If you closed it hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys. In Task Manager click on File, and then type in EXPLORER.EXE to restart the Windows shell.

Follow the steps to search for the file to make sure it is gone. If not, you'll have to follow the steps again to make sure you have the correct file path. After several attempts, and if the file is still not gone, you can then consider whether or not you want to purchase one of the many programs designed to remove un-removable files.

If the file is gone it is still a good idea to search for it one last time. If the file is question is associated with malware or a virus, be sure to scan the entire system again. You can never be too sure when it comes to harmful files and programs.


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