How to Force Delete a File/Folder on Windows 10

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How to Force Delete a File/Folder on Windows 10

Common Culprits that Could Lead to “Can’t Delete File/Folder” Issue

  • You are not allowed to delete the file because it is either opened by some program(s) or opened in the background process.
  • “Access Denied” message will appear when you attempt to delete a document from a mounted external drive.
  • The problem may arise when your disk drive has no more free space or it's write-protected.
  • That file/folder becomes read-only, corrupted, or has virus/malware.
  • Your computer system files cannot be deleted.
  • The Recycle Bin of your computer is full.

How Can I Force Delete a File or Folder -[Solved]

No matter what problems you are facing, you can use the following methods to force delete the file or folder.

Solution 1. Force Delete a File or Folder in Windows 10 with CMD - 2 Methods

1.1 Use “DEL” command to force delete a file - Window CMD

The “DEL” command in CMD (CMD is short for Command Prompt) allows you to quickly force delete a file or folder from your Win 10 PC, USB flash drives, external hard drives, micro cards, SD cards, and so on. 

Step 1. On your Windows computer, please click Start menu → type cmd →  right-click Command Prompt, and then choose Run as administrator, you will see Command Prompt window shortly.

Step 2. Use this command line: del file path, (in my case, I type this command line: del C:\Users\mini\Desktop\test.txt ), at last, press Enter. This operation instantly deletes the TXT file from my desktop. Do remember to replace “file path” with the correct path and contain the file extension, if you are not sure, right-click on the file you want to delete, go to “Properties”- “Details”, then you can find the correct information.


1.2. Use “RMDIR /S /Q” to force delete a folder - Window CMD 

Click Start menu - type cmd - right-click Command Prompt, at last, choose Run as administrator, now you enter Command Prompt window, type the rmdir /s /q folder path (in my case, I type: rmdir /s /q E:\test), press Enter. This operation deletes the folder named “test” from my USB drive in no time. Do not forget to replace “folder path”in the command link with the actual path of your target folder.


Solution 2. Is it Feasible to Press Shift + Delete to force delete a file or folder?

If your computer’s Recycle Bin has encountered a problem that stops you from deleting the documents, you can select the target file/ folder, and press Shift + Delete to delete it permanently. That shortcut is not affected by the status of your Recycle Bin.

Solution 3. Can I Run Windows 10 in Safe Mode to Delete the File/Folder?

When you are not sure you don’t know what programs are using/opening your file, or when you doubt your Windows 10 computer has infected some virus, you can also boot your computer in Safe Mode and see if you could successfully delete that file/folder. First, start Windows 10 in Safe Mode, second, manually delete that file or folder, third, restart your computer to check the result.

More Tips to Tackle the “Can’t Delete File/Folder” Problem

If the above-mentioned tricks do not work, do not give up, try these methods to delete a file or folder on Windows 10.

#1. Use keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager, check all the programs running on your system and find all the suspicious one, click them one by one and select "End task".

#2. Perform a complete virus scan using the built-in anti-malware program on Windows 10 or third-party tools. 

#3. Right-click your file or folder, select Properties to check if the file attribute is read-only.

#4. Manually empty the Recycle Bin in case there is no extra free space.

#5. Run CHKDSK command to diagnose if your hard disk has some errors, and repair them if any.

Try the Freeware to Recover Deleted/Lost Files

Sometimes, you permanently deleted some files or emptied all files in the Recycle Bin but later you need the files. All you need to do is using data recovery tools, such as MiniTool Power Data Recovery to restore the lost data. 


When you cannot delete a file or folder from Windows 10 computer or other storage devices, you could read the above instructions to force delete a file/folder with CMD, and use the 5 tips to solve the problem a little bit easier.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor