Deleting files is a routine task for computer users. Sometimes, deleting a file becomes difficult as the system shows an error message that reads, "Can’t delete file." It could be frustrating, especially when the file is critical, and you need to free up space on your hard drive. There could be several reasons why you can’t delete files. This could include the file being used by another program or application, corrupt file, no administrator permission, or you lack the rights to delete it. In this blog post, we will explore some methods on how to delete files that won’t delete.

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Why You Need to Delete Files That Won’t Delete

Running out of hard disk space can cause your system performance to slow down. It could also prevent you from installing new programs or applications. Some files store temporary data, and once they are no longer needed, deleting them could save you valuable space on your hard drive. Additionally, deleting files that won’t delete can help you declutter your system and improve its performance.

Method 1: Deleting Files through Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a boot option that starts your computer with a minimal set of drivers and services, only running the essential components required for the system to function. This method might be useful in situations where the file is being used by another program or corrupted. Below are the steps on how to delete a file using Safe Mode.

1. Restart your computer and press the F8 key.
2. In the advanced boot options menu, select the Safe Mode option.
3. Once your computer boots into Safe Mode, locate the file you want to delete.
4. Right-click the file and select Delete.
5. Once the file is deleted, restart your computer, and it will boot back into normal mode.


– Safe Mode loads a minimal set of drivers and services, making it easier to identify the problem file.
– It can help you resolve issues with corrupted system files.


– Some antivirus programs may not work in Safe Mode.
– Safe Mode disables certain functions, which could limit your ability to investigate other system issues.

Method 2: Using Command Prompt

The command prompt is a powerful tool that can help you execute different functions on your computer. In this method, we use the command prompt to delete files that won’t delete. Here is how to do it:

1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialogue box.
2. Type "cmd" and press Enter to open a command prompt.
3. In the command prompt, navigate to the location of the file you want to delete using the "cd" command.
4. Type "del" followed by the file name and extension you want to delete (for example, del example.txt).
5. Press Enter to execute the command.
6. Close the command prompt once the file is deleted.


– Command prompt provides more control over the process of file deletion.
– It is an efficient way to delete files that have long filenames or are located deep within a directory structure.


– Users can accidentally delete important files if the command is not executed carefully.
– In some cases, the file may still refuse to delete even when using the command prompt.

Method 3: Using Third-Party Software

Sometimes, the built-in Windows tools may not be enough to delete stubborn files. In this case, third-party software can help. There are several software solutions in the market that can delete files that won’t delete. However, it is essential to download and install third-party software from reliable sources to avoid malicious software. Below are the steps to use third-party software to delete files.

1. Download and install a reliable third-party file deletion software.
2. Open the software and find the file you want to delete.
3. Select the file and click on the delete button.
4. Once the file is deleted, close the software utility.


– Some third-party software can securely delete files, ensuring that there are no traces left.
– It is often faster and more efficient than built-in Windows tools.


– Not all third-party software is reliable, and some may contain malware.
– Some software solutions may not work correctly with specific file types or operating system versions.

What to Do If You Can’t Delete Files That Won’t Delete

If you still can’t delete the file, there are alternative ways you can try. Here are some tips to fix the problem:

– Close all programs or applications that could be using the file.
– Boot into Safe Mode and try deleting the file again.
– Run a virus scan to ensure that the file is not infected.
– Change the file’s permissions to give you the necessary rights to delete it.
– Clear the system cache and temporary files using Disk Cleanup or a third-party utility.
– Rename the file and try deleting it again.

Bonus Tip

Always be careful when deleting or modifying system files. Some files are essential for the proper functioning of your computer, and deleting them could cause irreversible damage. Before making any changes, make sure you thoroughly understand the potential risks and consequences.

5 FAQs

Q1: What can cause files to be undeletable in Windows 10?

A: Several factors can cause files to be undeletable, such as being used by another program, a corrupt file, insufficient file permissions, or a virus infection.

Q2: Can I use the command prompt to delete a folder?

A: Yes, you can use the command prompt to delete a folder. The command to delete a folder is "rmdir."

Q3: How can I recover deleted files?

A: You can recover the deleted files using data recovery software. However, the chances of recovering the files depend on various factors, such as how long ago the file was deleted, whether the file was overwritten, or whether the file was securely deleted.

Q4: How can I avoid deleting important files accidentally?

A: Always be careful when deleting files and check that you have selected the correct file or folder for deletion. Additionally, ensure that a recent backup exists in case of accidental deletions.

Q5: Can I permanently delete a file?

A: Yes, you can permanently delete a file using various methods such as third-party software or built-in Windows tools. However, it is essential to note that permanent deletion means that the file is unrecoverable.

Final Thoughts

Deleting stubborn files can be a frustrating experience, but hopefully, with this guide, you have learned some effective ways on how to delete files that won’t delete. Remember to take caution when deleting important files and always make a backup in case of accidental deletion. If you still can’t delete a file, it is best to seek expert advice from a professional technician or specialist.

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