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Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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Archive for March 15th, 2013

ntfs – How do you find what process is holding a file open in Windows? – Server Fault

Posted by jpluimers on 2013/03/15

First a warning: when you have found the process holding open a file, and you want to forcibly close the handle, read this post why you should not: Windows Confidential: Forcing Handles Closed.

In fact:

if you forcibly need to close a handle to salvage something, you should reboot shortly afterwards.

Back to the question at hand:

How do you find what process is holding a file open in Windows?

One thing that annoys me no end about Windows is the old “sharing violation” error. Often you can’t identify what’s holding it open. Usually it’s just an editor or explorer just pointing to a relevant directory but sometimes I’ve had to resort to rebooting my machine.

Any suggestions on how to find the culprit?

All of the below solutions require you to run with Administrative privileges.

On current Windows versions, if you run them without UAC elevation, they will miss a lot of processes. And still: under some secured environments you won’t see all processes anyway.

My preferred answer is not on the list:

Quit the application that holds the handle

All the tools that show you the handles will indicate which process holds the handle.

Often, you can just quit that process, do your job on the affected file, then relaunch that process.

When the process is Explorer, there is a neat little trick that works for Windows Vista and up:

For explorer, btw, hold ctrl-shift and right-click a blank area of the start menu, and you’ll get “Exit Explorer” – ps, not quite Jeff’s answer.. – Mark Sowul

Another answer I like is to use Handle, as it is both a command-line tool, and allows for wildcard searching: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conference Topics, Conferences, Event, Power User, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

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