How do I delete a stubborn mpeg file?
March 27, 2007 8:58 AM   Subscribe

My computer is refusing to let me delete a fairly large file. It's an mpeg movie file I downloaded from Limewire (have mercy, MPAA)! Whenever I try to delete the file, I get a message claiming the file is in use by another program, but I don't see any programs running in task manager that would be using this file. The file is in my documents folder. Any thoughts on how this stubborn mpeg can be deleted?
posted by zembla3 to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Unlocker is a Windows program that I've used fairly regularly to handle this sort of thing. It's a quick download and a snap to use.
posted by Grundlebug at 9:02 AM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Limewire may still be using it. Have you done a reboot since the download?
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:04 AM on March 27, 2007

The easiest thing to do is reboot. After rebooting all handles will be released, and you can delete with impunity.
posted by harkin banks at 9:05 AM on March 27, 2007

Another vote for the Unlocker utility. I use it at least weekly.
posted by Bradley at 9:05 AM on March 27, 2007

Seems like a standard "turn your computer off and turn it back on" issue, like ape and harkin suggested. So reboot, and delete before you go opening Limewire again. If that fails....Unlocker, I guess.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 9:07 AM on March 27, 2007

Response by poster: ok, thanks. I did reboot, and that didn't work, so I'll try Unlocker.
posted by zembla3 at 9:08 AM on March 27, 2007

If after rebooting you're still having problems, you can also delete the file with command prompt to get around windows complaining.
posted by tracert at 9:10 AM on March 27, 2007

Sometimes, if the filename is too long (if the complete file path is longer than 255 characters), Windows will refuse to let you delete the file, but you can still move it. Try moving the file to the root of your C:\ drive and then try deleting it.
posted by fvox13 at 9:11 AM on March 27, 2007

I've had this same problem with a few movies that I ...acquired through BitTorrent. I finally got fed up, and used Eraser. Worked like a charm.
posted by The GoBotSodomizer at 9:14 AM on March 27, 2007

Reboot into Safe Mode by pressing F8 during the Windows boot sequence. Then delete the file. Then reboot to resume normal service.
posted by alasdair at 9:32 AM on March 27, 2007

Second/Third the safe mode command prompt. I've had to do that with some particularly stubborn files.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 9:34 AM on March 27, 2007

If Limewire (or whatever is holding the file open)automatically loads everytime you start your system, re-booting may not help if the app is still trying to write to the file (not a complete download?). Make sure the limewire process is not running by opening task manager.
posted by internal at 9:57 AM on March 27, 2007

This advice is all good and will probably help you, but twice in my working career with XP I've ended up with files I could never delete, even after booting from the rescue CD and dropping into it's command line. I believe the ACL's were broken somehow.

Hopefully this isn't your problem.
posted by chairface at 10:18 AM on March 27, 2007

I should mention: Even though I wasn't able to delete those rogue files, I was able to rename them and truncate them to zero length.
posted by chairface at 10:35 AM on March 27, 2007

I've had a similar problem. Mine seems to be caused by Windows trying to read or cache or whatever a large file, usually an mpeg or avi. Rebooting, etc. didn't work. The way I've found to get around this is to select the file, wait a couple seconds for Windows to "catch up", then you can delete it.

This happens especially poorly in Thumbnail view, even if the thumbnail of the file is already cached. It's like Windows needs to look at every file you select before it lets you do anything to it.
posted by toomanyplugs at 10:49 AM on March 27, 2007

2nding internal,

Just close Limewire. People are probably still downloading the movie from your computer.
posted by mphuie at 11:40 AM on March 27, 2007

This seems to happen with me when using the preview/thumbnail functions of the Windows UI... My guess is that Windows opens the file to read data it can use to generate a little preview image to show me, and doesn't close it correctly or in a timely fashion. I've had a problem before where a corrupted video file would crash explorer.exe whenever I opened the folder containing it (since creating the preview would fail).

Try turning off thumbnails and previews, or deleting the file through the command line.
posted by adamk at 12:40 PM on March 27, 2007

Years ago, before I came across WhoLockMe, I had a similar problem. I ended up opening a new text file and then saving it in the same directory with the exact same name of the offending file (the very same, right down to the extension) it warned me that the file (of that name) already existed but let me overwrite it. Then I could delete the "text" file.

So that worked, but I don't know how advisable that is particularly with tools now developed to deal with problems like that.
posted by gspm at 1:08 PM on March 27, 2007

I've always been able to delete such files by modifying permissions or the ownership of the file. Not quite sure how they get that way though.

Permissions: Right-click file->properties->security tab->advanced. Also hit the owner tab and transfer the ownership of the file to your account if that is misassigned.
posted by Manjusri at 1:34 PM on March 27, 2007

I have had the same issue with music files, and it was the filename length, as fvox13 suggested above. Stupid windows. Sometimes you can delete it from the command prompt, sometimes you have to go to more extreme measures.
posted by Joh at 2:37 PM on March 27, 2007

this always works for me.
posted by i love cheese at 5:04 PM on March 27, 2007

I asked the same thing a while ago - there is useful info on how to manually kill the file there.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:07 PM on March 27, 2007

It could be Explorer's video preview, you can turn that off in tools -> options somewhere.

Sometimes you'll get spaces at the end of filenames, and those files are hard to delete. If you can figure out the actual filename, I think enclosing it in quotes at the the command prompt should work, or you can find the 8.3 filename using "dir /x", and delete using that.
posted by Chuckles at 8:15 PM on March 27, 2007

Uninstall Limewire.
posted by bpilati at 2:03 PM on April 24, 2007

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