Unable to move or copy and paste files, getting error "File or folder open by another program"


Take the following situation:


In Folder1 and Folder2 is a program I created call program.exe.

If I open Explorer, go to Folder1, copy the file, go back to C: then open Folder2 adn paste, I can't because I get an error message that the file or folder is in use by another program.

This is bogus - the only program in question is Explorer. Nothing else has the file open.

If I wait maybe 1 minute, then attempt the paste again, it works. In the meantime I did nothing with the computer (I just left the folder open).

AV is not installed, and Windows Defender etc.. are disabled.

It also occurs with programs - e.g. VS2008 will fail to create temp files if they already exist and I had opened the folder in Explorer.

Sometimes it can also fail to create new files for the exact same reason. It is not permissions that are stopping me.

This problem is extremely annoying and is currently rendering Windows 7 unusable for me. I have gone back to XP pending a resolution.

I don't know why, but also FireFox is unable to save files to the hard disk for the same reason - the file/folder is in use blah blah.... Again, it is not permissions that are the cause.

UAC is as disabled as I can make it - I seem unable to totally disable it so it is not there at all.

I've also discovered that when it is in this "mood", that if I delete a file, it comes straight back as if protected in some way. Apparently VirtualStore applies to all folder locations, and not just system locations. This is utter nonsense, and extremely frustrating.

A resolution would be great.

I'm an Administrator, UAC is as disabled as I can get it, I own the entire drive, and Administrator has Full Access rights across the entire disk.

Win 7 x64 Pro RTM.

The issue is mostly never caused by Windows itself. Tools like AV Software, are mostly the rootcause. Due to a bad timing issue the file get then stucked forever, until reboot.

If you are lucky the lock releases, after you close all open windows and wait a minute.

Sometimes you can find something checking the properties of the locked file, using the process explorer tool. 

What always work is the Tool handle.exe from Sysinternals. Its a command line tool, showing you what process is having an active handle on this file and gives you the option to release it.  The handle tool should not take as general solution but it should point you to he "bad" software holding the file. You can then take action and for example reconfigure your AV, or remove some 3rd Party app you dont need.

In general you should disable all software on startup, visisble with msconfig.exe  In addition you can disable all non-microsoft services here, which you don’t need. And these are usually a lot after checking for the first time.

There are situation where the lock does not get released after reboot. The root cause was probably the same, unable for a program to clean up after themselves. Here you need to go to the security settings of the file. Dont try to change the permissions if you don’t have permission’s of course :-)  If you are an administrator you need to take the OWNERSHIP first before be able to change the security permissions. You will find the option in the security settings sa well.

As an example an Windows Hotfix was installed and AV Software was running all time. After the installation the pc wants to restart, but the AV Software has still an open handle on the installation folder. If the lock does not release, Windows will restart the Machine anyway, causing a locked folder which yoi need to take the ownership first.

In some cases I have seen that it does not want to fully delete all the folders and subs. In this case a file or empty folder was left in one of the subfolders. Go there delete the very last one and delete the locked root folder.



Process Explorer:


I agree I find this issue also very annoying and happened to me a couple of times already. Hopefully the handle,exe will be sooner or later integrated in the explorer, so it could display a message immediately pointing to the process holding the handle.




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Question Info

Last updated May 24, 2021 Views 123,748 Applies to: