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Can't Delete Files: How to Delete Files That Cannot Be Deleted on Windows 10/8/7

Updated by Cedric on Mar 31, 2021
Written by Brithny

How to Force Delete a File That Cannot Be Deleted Windows 10

If you can't delete files in Windows 10, check the 4 ways in this post on how to delete files that cannot be deleted on your Windows 10 computer.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
1. Force to Delete a File Go to Start, type Task Manager, and choose "Task Manager" to open it...Full steps
2. Delete Files/Folders Using CMD Press the Windows key + R and type cmd to open the Command Prompt...Full steps
3. Use Safe Mode to Delete Files Open "Settings" > Click on "Update & Security" > Click on "Recovery" > Under "Advanced Startup"...Full steps
4. Using a Third-party Tool Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition you want to erase...Full steps

Why Can't I Delete the Files on Windows 10/8/7

Sometimes you might encounter a folder that you're unable to delete. If you want to fix this problem, you must know the reason first. Generally, the file is used or locked would be the main reason. Otherwise, a virus must be taken into account.

It's most likely because another program is currently trying to use the file. This can occur even if you don't see any programs running. When a file is open by another app or process, Windows 10 puts the file into a locked state, and you can't delete, modify, or move it to another location. Usually, after the file is no longer in use, the application will unlock it automatically, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, a file may not unlock successfully, and even if you try to take any action, you'll see a warning that the operation can't be completed because it's open by another program.

Before you take actions to delete the undeletable files, you can first try these simple tips and delete these files:

  • Close all the programs.
  • Restart your computer.
  • Let the antivirus scan your computer to see if there's a virus on your computer and get rid of it.

If these files still exist, the following methods would do a favor to you.

Method 1. Force to Delete a File That Cannot Be Deleted Windows 10

Files cannot be deleted if the file is open in an application. Usually, you could receive the information when you can't delete a file like a picture showing below.

force to delete a file - 1

To force Windows 10 to delete a file, you can follow the steps below:

Step 1. Go to Start, type Task Manager, and choose "Task Manager" to open it.

Step 2. Find the application that is currently using the file, and select "End task".

Step 3. Then, try to delete the file again on your Windows PC.

force to delete a file -2

Method 2. Delete the File/Folder with Command Prompt

Using Command Prompt for deletion is sometimes more efficient, and you definitely should give it a try. Here’s what you need to do to delete a certain file or folder with Command Prompt:

Step 1. Press the Windows key + R and type cmd to open the Command Prompt or just search for Command Prompt at the start.

Step 2. In the Command Prompt, enter del and location of folder or file you want to delete, and press "Enter" (for example del c:\users\JohnDoe\Desktop\text.txt).

open command prompt

Method 3. Enter Safe Mode to Unlock and Delete Files

Usually, when you come across a locked file, you can simply restart your device to unlock it. If it doesn't work, you can boot into Safe Mode to unlock and delete the file. 

Step 1. Open "Settings" > Click on "Update & Security" > Click on "Recovery" > Under "Advanced Startup", click the "Restart now" button.

Step 2. Click on "Troubleshoot" > "Advanced options" > "Startup Settings".

Step 3. Click the "Restart" button.

Step 4. On "Startup Settings," press F4 to enable Safe Mode.

click trouble shoot and choose the following settings

While in Safe Mode, use File Explorer to locate and delete the files that were previously locked, then simply restart your device as you would normally to exit Safe Mode.

Before we delete the undeletable files by wiping the whole partition, you must backup other useful files in advance. Once you start the erasing process, you can't be canceled it until it is finished. Do remember to check the folders again to avoid data loss.

Method 4. Delete File that Cannot Be Deleted Using a Third-party Tool

There are many third-party applications that can help you with this problem and delete locked files. One tool that might help you with this problem is EaseUS Partition Master. It can help to clean up junk files and wipe the whole data. It's fully compatible with Windows 10/8/7 etc.

EaseUS Partition Master

Free download this software and start deleting undeletable files now.

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition you want to erase data from, and choose "Wipe Data".

Wipe Partition - Step 1

Step 2. In the new window, set the time for which you want to wipe your partition, then click "OK".

Wipe Partition - Step 2

Step 3. Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-right corner, then click "Apply" to wipe the data on your partition.

Wipe Partition - Step 3

It's important to note that unlocking and deleting files on Windows 10 may cause system and program issues, depending on the type of files you're trying to unlock. So be careful of what you delete if you're not sure of the consequences.

Bonus Tips - How to Recover Deleted Files or Folders

There are times you mistakenly deleted a needed file on your Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 computers, we also provide you with additional help. You can recover deleted files with easy-to-use data recovery software. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is my recommendation. It is the best file recovery software that allows you to:

  • Restore data from internal and external hard drives, SSD, USB flash drive, SD card, etc.
  • Retrieve lost videos, photos, Word files, music, and more.
  • Repair corrupt/damaged photos, and repair MP4/MOV files.
  • Download and install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your computer and follow the operations below to recover deleted files.

Step 1. Select a location and start scanning.

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, hover on the partition, external hard drive, USB, or memory card where you want to perform erased data recovery, and then click "Scan".

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Select the files you want to recover.

When the scanning has finished, select the deleted files you want to recover. Double-click the file to preview its content if you need to.

Choose files to recover

Step 3. Recover lost data.

After choosing the data, click "Recover" and choose a location on another drive to save the deleted data.

Recover lost data

How to Delete Files that Cannot Be Deleted FAQs

As for how to delete files that cannot be deleted on Windows 10, hope the above solutions can help. If you still have problems, read the following questions and answers.

How do you force delete a file?

  • To do this, start by opening the Start menu (Windows key), typing run, and hitting Enter. 
  • In the dialogue that appears, type cmd and hit Enter again. 
  • With the command prompt open, enter del /f filename, where filename is the name of the file or files (you can specify multiple files using commas) you want to delete.

Can't delete a file is open in the system?

To Overcome the "File in Use" Error:

  • Close the Program. Let's start with the obvious. 
  • Reboot your computer. 
  • End the Application via the Task Manager.
  • Change File Explorer Process Settings. 
  • Disable the File Explorer Preview Pane.
  • Force Delete the File in Use via the Command Prompt.

How do I end a DLL process?

  • Go and find the "Search" button in the "Start" menu. You should search "All files and folders".
  • Then type the name of that DLL file you want to stop running into the search dialogue box. 
  • Locate the DLL file and write down the full file path for the DLL file.

Can I delete Aow_drv?

No. No matter how much you try but you cannot delete aow_drv. It is a log file and you cannot delete this file.


This post provides you with four effective solutions. Most users say that they have solved their problems after they have tried Method 1. And Method 1 is my first choice. If you have some alternate solution to this problem, and you'd like to share it with us, please tell us, our readers would love to read it.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is one of the senior editors of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. He mainly writes articles about data recovery tutorials on PC and Mac and how-to tips for partition management. He always keeps an eye on new releases and likes various electronic products.

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Written by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech life easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. On her spare time, she loves sharing things about her favorite singer - Taylor Swift on her Facebook or Twitter.

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