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CNET Membership newsletter June 25, 2004 

The 5 that matter

Dear CNET members:
Last week's question on how to delete stubborn files prompted a generous amount of great submissions with many different approaches to the problem. However, I did receive one submission by Pat C. that gave the whole enchilada of approaches in one fell swoop. So I hope that one of these solution provided will be good enough for you, Markus, to get rid of those files. Please note, as in Pat's answer, to MAKE SURE you are familiar with files you are planning to delete. You don't want to delete a file that is critical to your system; that can really wreak havoc in your computer, and I sure don't want see a question submission having to do with someone accidentally deleting a wrong file. :) So be cautious and know what you are deleting!

1I can't delete a few files or folders in XP. I get a "File in use" message. Sometimes I also get an "Access denied" message. What do I do?

--Submitted by: Markus C. of Tucson, Arizona

First, make sure that you are familiar with the files you are going to delete. If you do not know what they are for, it is best to leave them alone. Second, if this computer is not yours or you do not have system administrative rights, you will need to ask the administrator to grant the necessary permissions to allow you to delete these files. With the solutions I've provided below, I'm assuming that you are the single user for the computer. If one way doesn't work, try the next.

1. "File in use" or "Access denied" usually means that your file is being accessed by an application/program. Close all applications/program associated with that file and try to delete it. If that doesn't work, wait a few minutes and try again.
2. Another method is to reboot your computer. Once Windows is loaded, do not open any applications; instead, go directly to that particular file and delete it. If that doesn't work, try the next method.
3. Rename the file you would like to delete, then try deleting it. Sometimes it tricks whatever app is tying it up into releasing the file for deletion. If that doesn't work, move on to the next method.
4. Boot Windows into Safe Mode, access that file, then delete it.
5. Last and final method is using the command-line interface. If you are unfamiliar with command lines, you may want to call it a day and leave the file you'd like to delete alone.

--Submitted by: Pat T. of San Jose, California

(Note: Above is the edited version of Pat's answer. Please click here for his complete answer, and don't forget to read up on the honorable mentions.)

For your efforts Pat, we’re sending you your choice of any Learning CD.

Check out next week's question:

How do I clear or clean out my Windows XP msconfig selection start-up menu? There're a lot of old programs that have been deleted off my PC that still show up there.

--Submitted by: Drew S. of Baltimore, Maryland

We feature a new question every Friday. If you have the answer, e-mail us at If we choose your response, you'll get a free CD. Click here for Q&A submission guidelines

Best regards and enjoy!

Lee Koo
CNET Community
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