I see that a file has a lock on it. How could I find out the cause and root of this?

  • 2
    Is this a network file? Local File? What version of Windows?
    – GregD
    Aug 24, 2010 at 13:33

5 Answers 5


Unlocker is a freeware utility that I have used many times for this purpose. Easy to use, right click on the file in question and it shows you which processes are locking it. You can then either kill those processes or forceably unlock all or one of the locking processes.


  • It can also delete corrupted files. Nice! Nov 30, 2012 at 18:18

Try the Process Explorer tool from Sysinternals. Also their Handle tool is a command line tool to find out what has a lock on something.

  • Ah, yes, Process Explorer.
    – MattUebel
    Aug 24, 2010 at 14:38

From START > RUN type in "fsmgmt.msc" without the quotes.

This is the shared folders MMC and you can manage sessions here to see who has locks on particular files.

Edited to add:

You can also connect to your server (or another computer) with this snap-in by clicking on Action > Connect to another computer. You'll have to connect to the computer that the file exists on.

  • 2
    +1 You might need to run this on the file server itself and not just the client computer
    – jftuga
    Aug 24, 2010 at 13:47

Use ProcessExplorer from sysinternals. Search for the locked file and you'll easily see the process that has a reference to it in the list of handles (the bottom pane):

Ever wondered which program has a particular file or directory open? Now you can find out. Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded.


You can use 'net file' via the Command Prompt onto the file server .

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