Home > System Admin, Windows > Determining the processes that have locked a file

Determining the processes that have locked a file

October 20, 2009

The Process Explorer utility in the Windows Sysinternal Suite allows you to search for the  processes that currently have open handles to a particular file or DLL:

  1. Launch Process Explorer
  2. Menu: Find –> Find Handle or DLL…
  3. Enter the filename that is locked.
  4. Press Search


  • In Windows XP development environments, where Visual Studio is running,  I have run into an error condition where no process is listed as holding a file lock; however, the file can’t be deleted because the OS still thinks that the file is locked.  This issue occurs most often when Windows XP is running in a VMware session; however, I have also seen the problem occur on a plain XP host.  The only solution to releasing the lock is to reboot and attempt to delete the file again.  Interestingly enough, I have not seen this issue occur in Vista.
Categories: System Admin, Windows
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