What is locking my file or folder?

We’ve all had this.  You want to delete or rename some file or folder, and you get the very dreaded following window:

You probably already know about the locked files and checked the Server Manager > Roles > File Services > Share and Storage Management > OpenFiles   (this is the path for Win 2K8).  Your folder is not to be seen, and it gets you mad, I know.

Then you Google some, and you find some miraculous third-party software which-will-solve-all-your-problem-but-please-click-next-next-next-and-don’t-read.

Delta Toolbar?  SRSLY?

Then let’s think: it’s Windows, we are in 2015; what about Powershell?

Beam Us Up Scotty proposes a command for this, let’s try it on that example directory:

It might be actually good for files, but in the case of a directory, it returns nothing 🙁

Out of the box, I haven’t found a way to get what I want:  clearly identify what the hell is locking my file or folder.

There is a Sysinternals executable called Handle.exe (which I would love to decompile some day and inject its commands into some PS!) which looks promising.

Note that you can run this executable from a remote location, but not from a certain location, aimed toward a remote machine where the file is locked.

The Lonely Administrator and Stackoverflow propose solutions using this, let’s try:

  1. Download Handle.exe from the official Sysinternals site. It’s a safe lonely executable, no crappy toolbar, no adware and the like.
  2. Put it on some network share.
  3. Write a nice PS function to use Handle.exe. As we won’t reinvent the wheel; just grab the one from the Lonely Administrator (the second “Click to Expand Code”)… it’s well done and works fine (*).
  4. Put the function in a file (let’s call it Get-LockingProcess.ps1) on a share (e.g. the same as Handle.exe, let’s call it MYSHARE for the example).  Be sure to edit the path to the Handle.exe file (variable $Handle in that code) to match your network share.
  5. From anywhere where a file or folder is locked, as long as you have access to the said share, you open a Powershell window, you include the Get-LockingProcess.ps1 (using the dot command for instance) and then you call the function with the locked directory.

Let’s try this with our example dir.  I put Handle.exe and the Get-LockingProcess.ps1 files on \\MYSHARE:

Pretty clear: you have the directory opened in a cmd window!

This is from a system admin’s point of view and wanting to give any power user a quick and easy way to identify locked files/folders.
Of course you can also do this locally, and/or only output Handle.exe to a file and Ctrl+F into that file, but it isn’t as fancy ! 🙂


(*) For future’s sake, here is a copy, with cited source:

Doesn’t that regex totally PWNS? 🙂


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