Files in Windows can be pretty nasty sometimes, especially when you try to delete them and some handles are still active. In this case all sorts of error messages can pop up out of nowhere; like the one with the file being used by another program or user, sharing violation, source or destination may still be in use and, my personal favorite, access is denied. Sure you've bumped into them every once in a while.
This often happens because the file you want to delete or handle otherwise is actually in use or some restrictions are applied. The problem is generally solved by killing Windows Explorer from Task Manager and then try deleting the file again either from another file manager or with the use of Command Prompt.
However, an easier way to puzzle out of this one is using Unlocker, a freebie that detects the processes or handles preventing a file from being deleted/moved, and which offers you the possibility to unlock it nice and easy.
Installation of the application is not hindered by any obstacle, although you should pay attention to the process unless you want the application to place eBay shortcuts on the desktop. Additional customization of the app during installation allows you to enable Unlocker Assistant, add an extension to Windows Explorer as well as enable the software to check for new updates automatically. Beware that none of these options can be changed after the installation of the software unless you re-install it.
Unlocker can help you in case handles, processes or DLLs prevent deleting, moving or renaming a file or folder. It automatically brings you on a platter all the elements that make a stand against your wish, with details on the process, the path that is locked, process ID number (PID) and process path, allowing you to unlock the file. The options available are killing or unlocking either the selected item or all of them at once. As for the actions provided by the application, these include deleting, renaming, moving or copying the selected file.
The program can integrate perfectly in Windows Explorer's context menu so that each time a file is stubborn and won't delete you can call Unlocker to the rescue with a right click. To have it permanently on duty you can have its Assistant enabled from the installation menu. This way it'll sit in system tray and lend a hand at each delete/rename/move operation by launching the application.
Unfortunately this does not happen on Vista (on XP there is no problem) and during our testing the Windows Explorer extension remained the best and most practical solution. I don't believe anyone wants to crowd the system tray with another icon that is not required all the time so, to avoid this, the developer enabled its hiding from view so that it functions in the background. Resource usage of Unlocker Assistant is no problem because it only takes about 1.5MB of RAM.
The moment you initiate Unlocker from Windows Explorer context menu the application automatically lists all the processes locking the selected file/folder. In case there is no lock on the file/folder the program pops up another dialog stipulating that no locking handle has been found and provides the actions to be taken: delete, rename, move.
Unlocker's flexibility is not limited only to closing handles, killing processes and unloading DLL files as the program can also deal with invalid names, delete index.dat files (logs used by Internet Explorer to preserve the list of web sites you visited; it also stores emails sent and received through Outlook mail client), and if the desired action cannot be taken on the spot it can complete it automatically at the next system reboot.
The application works on all Windows operating systems starting with Windows 2000 and ending with Vista. It is extremely easy to handle and during our testing there was absolutely no case Unlocker could not deal with either immediately or at the next computer restart.
In some instances the software took a while to find all the file locking culprits but in the end everything was addressed properly and with no incidents. Enabling its extension in Explorer's context menu is one of the best ways to use it as, from that spot, you get easy access to the application whenever you need it. The Good
Easy to install and use, Unlocker makes for a great helper when it comes to deleting, moving or renaming files/folders that are locked by processes, DLL files or various handles. It detects the hooks and lists them, offering you the possibility to kill the process or simply unlock the file as well as perform the desired action on it.
If the action cannot be performed on the spot, it supplies the option to do it at the next system restart or abort the operation altogether. The Bad
Our testing confirmed that Unlocker's Assistant only works on XP and on Vista it does absolutely nothing. The Truth
Unlocker is a freebie with little options designed specifically for one purpose only: unlocking files hooked by processes, DLL files and handles in order to allow you to rename them, move them to a different location or delete them.
It does its job great and it can be placed in Explorer's context menu for easy access when in need. The only issue encountered during our testing was with its Assistant, which failed to launch the application. But other than this the app did a tremendous job with every test we faced it with. Here are some snapshots of the application in action: