How to Delete Undeletable Files in Windows 7

Windows 7 Recycle Bin

It has been 2 weeks now to Windows 7 Public beta release and by now everyone is aware of fact that Windows XP to Windows 7 Upgrade is not possible as Microsoft has ditched to Windows XP. But Windows Vista to Windows 7 upgrade is absolutely possible

Even news has surfaced that Microsoft will be soon going to allow free Windows Vista to Windows 7 upgrade for specific class & category of users. However in place upgrade process may or may be successful resulting in corrupted data or some files which are undeletable from windows 7.

Even if you install windows 7 on another partition the old data of previous operating system still present on your hard drive which becomes undeletable or inaccessible from Windows 7.

Usually this problem of undeletable files and folder is because of Access control list of these object is associated with SID of old operating system user accounts and these users are not present in your windows 7, effectively data is owned by nobody or non-existent user.

In order to access the files and folder for manipulation, modification or deletion, we will need to take control of the files under Windows 7. Here are two command line syntaxes to instantly take ownership of such files,

For Files:

takeown /f file_name /d y
icacls file_name /grant administrators:F

For Directories (will perform action recursively):

takeown /f directory_name /r /d y
icacls directory_name /grant administrators:F /t

Please keep in mind above syntaxes will grant full permission to administrator group hence you must be a part of administrator group to take advantage of above command.

RELATED:  Use PhotoFiltre 7 to Edit Images Expertly on Windows

If you are not comfortable with command line then you may read how to guide to take ownership of files manually.

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19 thoughts on “How to Delete Undeletable Files in Windows 7”

  1. I have a container file produced by an encryption program when I had XP installed. I have used the above commands which have returned success messages when run but have not allowed me to delete the file even though I own it and have full control of it.

  2. Doesn’t work for me. :-(

    C:\Users\Demosthenes>icacls G:\Music\pbtop1000 /grant administrators:F /t
    G:\Music\pbtop1000: Access is denied.
    Successfully processed 0 files; Failed processing 1 files

    C:\Users\Demosthenes>takeown /f G:\Music\pbtop1000 /r /d y
    ERROR: The current logged on user does not have ownership privileges on
    the file (or folder) “G:\Music\pbtop1000”.

  3. Had a friend who couldn’t delete a file off the desktop. Copied all the files he wanted to another directory. Restarted in safe mode with command prompt. The used dos commands….
    cd users
    cd username (eg. cd Retro)
    cd desktop
    I’m now in the following directory..
    c:\users\retro\desktop
    then type….
    del *.*
    This will delete everything in the directory :)
    Restart windows normally & then copy your desktop items back to your desktop.
    Have fun!!!!

    Retro :)

  4. I have two folders. one is c:program files and the other is

    c:program files (x86). I want to keep the (x86) one.

    I ran your program Add Take Ownership Option

    and it works till I get to a screen that

    says, I cant do that because that program is being used by

    an other program. I see the computer is looking at the other

    C:program files (x86) folder.

    Is there still a way to remove the first folder or am i stuck

    with both ?.

    Thanks from TOM.

  5. I can’t delete this one item. Its accessible but i can’t delete it. every time i want to delete it, it always says prepare to recycle but nothing happen. Any suggestion?

  6. same deal khizer, when i render down wav files with high bitrate it wont delete the items just sticks at the preparing to recycle box

  7. Hi, I cannot delete certain files in Windows 7. They are mostly in “.mp4” & “.mkv” format. These files cannot be renamed also. I recieve the below message when I try to delete these files:

    “THE ACTION CANNOT BE COMPLETED BECAUSE THE FILE IS OPEN IN WINDOWS EXPLORER.CLOSE & TRY AGAIN”

    What is causing this problem & how to fix it? Looking forward to your response. Thanks :)

  8. F### WINDOWS! I WANT MY COMPUTER BACK!
    BESIDES MY MAJOR VIRUS PROBLEM (MS WINDOS 7), I have a fat32
    pen drive with the autorun.inf virus. (Detail, the file was
    marked with HX attribute, what a hell this attribute means!)
    I have tried almost anyting, including:
    a) this post,
    b) using cmd running as administrator and closing explorer.exe,
    c) using cmd in windows safe mode
    d) several diferent ways of taking ownership
    e) activing and using the inner admin acount of windows
    f) changing the UAC
    Some iluminated soul knows the answer?
    Please, do NOT sugest any kind of software to do this work,
    until I know, the antivirus market worked most creating and
    spreading the virus to could sell the vacine. And, after all, I
    WANT MY COMPUTER BACK, i have paied for it, not Bill Gates.
    Always se same error messageS: “ACCESS DENIED”, “You require permission from the compute’s administrator to
    make changes to this file” (IS HE BILL GATES??),”ERROR: File ownership cannot be applied on insecure file
    systems; there is no suppor for ACLs.”
    Thanks…

  9. Dearest,,,,,,From where i can download soft….There is no download link……………..
                                 Plz guide me……
                                       Thanks………..

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