HomeWinBuzzer TipsWindows 10: Can´t Delete Folder or File - Here Is the Fix

Windows 10: Can´t Delete Folder or File – Here Is the Fix

Windows 10 sometimes refuses to delete a specific folder or file. Learn why and how you can force delete a file or folder in Windows 10.


sometimes refuses to delete certain folders or file. We'll show you how to take action in such a case and still erase the affected files from your hard drive.

If Windows 10 refuses to delete a folder or file, this might be caused by two reasons.

Either the affected files/folders are currently being used by Windows 10 or a running software – or you don´t have the rquired permissions to delete the folder/file.

This might be quite annoying if you definitely don't need the affected files/folders anymore, like in the case of files that had been used or created by an already uninstalled or removed software.

In some cases such files remain “marked” as open / “in-use” or you simply do not have the user-rights to delete them. With the following 3 methods you can still get rid of such files or folders.

Method 1: Delete the File or Folder as Administrator

The most common reason why you cannot delete a file is lack of user rights on the system. If your user account does not have administrator rights, you will need to log in with an appropriate admin account. If someone else is managing your system as an administrator, you will need to contact them.

Method 2: Change the File or Folder Ownership

Some files/folders cannot be deleted by you as a user because another user is marked as owner. As administrator you can set yourself as the owner which is called “taking ownership” in IT-lingo. To do this, start by right-clicking on the file or folder and selecting “Properties”.

In the properties dialog that appears, switch to the “Security”-tab and click on “Advanced”.

The owner of the file is shown at the top. If you have administrator rights, you can click on “Change” on the right and set yourself as the owner.

A dialog box will pops up. There, just enter your user name in the white box. If you have a account connected to Windows 10, this is the corresponding email address, otherwise just your normal user-name. Click on “OK” to apply the new setting.

In the main window you can now see your account as “the owner of the file”. To make the change permanent, you have to close this window as well by clicking “OK” or “Apply”.  If you still can't delete the file or folder, the last method below will help you.

Method 3: Delete the File or Folder With Lockhunter

First you install the freeware Lockhunter, which you can download here.  Then click on the file or folder you want to delete and select “What is locking this file?” from the context menu.

In the Lockhunter that opens you can see a list of the processes that are responsible for the deletion lock. With a click on “Unlock Selected Process” you can separate them from the file and delete them afterwards. The big button “Delete It!” does both tasks at once if you wish and removes the file or folder directly from the hard disk.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions on File and Folder Deletion in Windows

How do you delete a file that won't delete?

Use LockHunter to unlock and delete the file. This tool is particularly useful for files locked by processes.

How do I delete corrupted files?

Boot in Safe Mode and try deleting, or use Command Prompt with administrative privileges to remove corrupted files.

Why can't I delete files from my hard drive?

Check for administrative rights or file ownership issues. Ensuring you have the proper permissions is crucial for file deletion.

Can a corrupted file be repaired?

Use the  CHKDSK, DISM or SFC utilities, or third-party file repair tools to attempt repairing corrupted files.

How do I force delete a file that is in use?

Use LockHunter to unlock the file, then delete it. This method is effective for files currently in use.

How do I delete a file that cannot be deleted due to ‘access is denied'?

Obtain administrative rights or change file ownership to delete files with access denial issues.

Why do files come back after deleting them?

Check for issues with cloud syncing or software glitches that might cause files to reappear after deletion.

How do I delete files from an external hard drive that won't delete?

Remove write protection, try a different computer, or use LockHunter for files on external hard drives.

How do I find and remove corrupted files?

Use System File Checker (SFC) for system files, or manually locate and delete non-system files.

How do I delete a folder that cannot be deleted?

Check for administrative rights, file ownership, or use LockHunter for stubborn folders.

How do I delete a file that is not deletable?

Try deleting in Safe Mode or use LockHunter to remove any locks on the file.

How do I force delete a file without permissions?

Gain administrative rights or change the file's ownership to delete files without permissions.

How do I delete a file that Cannot delete access is denied?

Obtain administrative privileges or adjust file permissions to tackle access denial issues.

How do I force delete an Undeletable folder?

Use LockHunter to unlock the folder, then delete it. This is effective for folders that seem undeletable.

What tool deletes undeletable files?

LockHunter is recommended for deleting locked or undeletable files effectively.

Last Updated on April 22, 2024 3:05 pm CEST

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.
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