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Published on 05.11.07 by Brent Trahan

Can Not Delete a Folder in Windows Vista

Learn how to delete a folder that has been protected with special rights by the software that put it there.


When software installs on Windows Vista it carries special rights during the installation that only it can have. It can protect files and folders using those rights and make files and folder undeletable by most user accounts.

In certain circumstances you might need to delete a folder that was protected by the software installation. When you try to delete a folder Windows Vista tells you that you don’t have the proper privileges or rights to delete the folder even though you’re logged in as a user with administrative rights.

This guide shows you how to delete one of these folders.

Warning: Folders that are protected were protected for a reason. Delete the folders at your own risk.

Delete a Protected Folder

The only way I know how to delete a protected folder like the one discussed in this guide is to logon as Administrator and delete the folder using that account. There’s one problem though. By default you can’t logon as Administrator in Windows Vista.

Enable the Administrator Account

Read my Logon Windows Vista as Administrator guide and enable the Administrator account.

Delete the protected folder

Logon as Administrator and delete the protected folder.

Disable the Administrator Account

Disable the Administrator account so that your computer is secured. See the bottom of the Logon Windows Vista as Administrator guide for help with disabling the administrator account.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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20 Responses to “Can Not Delete a Folder in Windows Vista”

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  1. Kris says:

    I am still having trouble deleting files. I have both enabled Administrator and login etc, but the thing is when I log into the administrator I dont see the files that I want to delete. My programs are not on the administrators account. For example, if i couldnt delete a word doc or one of my mp3s, when log into admin account those mp3s or word docs are not there.
    therefore i cant delete the folder as admin because it is non existent on that account.. i hate vista haha


  2. Brent Trahan says:

    You can’t find the folder you want to delete while logged in as Administrator because those files are saved in another user’s profile.

    Try looking in the user account’s profile you normaly login to (C:\Users).

  3. Brian says:

    I agree with Kris. I am good at computers but Windows Vista is created for people who have nothing better to do than spend day and night friggin’ with it. I spend quite a bit of time on the computer and know them quite well. My Laptop is XP and my wifes new computer is Vista. I have fooled and tweaked etc, etc and one file will not go away.

    So, sorry to say I agree, Vista sucks!



    • Greggis says:

      I had a related problem with trying to delete some old program files from a version of vista that had been deleted from my computer. I search the forums for an answer and tired all sorts of things such as turn off UAC, logon as administrator, change permissions on the security tab, use various dos commands such as takeown, and remove directory. None of this worked.

      Finally I downloaded the free program “unlocker” and unlocker easily deleted these files (although at the end of the deletion I had a blue screen but vista rebooted normally with no problems and all of the problem files were deleted). I highly recomend unlocker for this kind of problem. The good thing about this program is that it works with folders as well as files.

  4. David says:

    I need some help. I have vista and I can’t seem to delete this folder. I tried with CMD but is said system 5 error and something about permission. I then ran the CMD as administrator and it still would not delete. Please help.

  5. Kenna says:

    I really need some help… The only thing I really know about computers is how to use them. As far a sneaky little commands and codes I’m lost. Here is my problem that I’m hoping there is a simple answer for.

    I have a file on my desktop called “music.” At one point there may have been some mp3s in there that I took off my friend’s iPod. The folder is now empty but my computer won’t let me delete it. It keeps saying that it can’t find the path or that it’s not located where it says that it is located. All I want is to get this empty folder off my desktop but I can’t.

    Any very simplified and step by step help or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.


  6. forgi says:

    Go to Unlocker. It’s goooood.

  7. Goldline says:

    Ive logged on with the Normal Administrator Account and with the Root Administrator Account but i still cant delete the folder, please help!

  8. Laurie says:

    I had the same problem as Kenna. Couldn’t delete a stupid music folder, but could get rid of everything in it. Every time I tried right-clicking to delete or clicking once and hitting the delete key, windows explorer would crash and not allow it. For some reason, once the folders were empty, I was able to drag it into the recycle bin, then empty the bin. WTF??? In any case, the files are gone now.

  9. Joel says:

    Simply run windows explorer as administrator, delete the directory/file… That’s it. Peace.

  10. LUKA says:

    I need help I have vista,when i try to delete this folder nothing happens also i cant rename it and i cant move it into another folder,can anyone help me…???

  11. Rachel says:

    that’s the same problem i have!!!

  12. Raj says:

    Hello everyone….Some of you saying windows vista sucks and all but its very safe and secured windows for users…..

    If you guys having problem to delete a file or folder….then follow this … may be it will help you guys…

    this problem occures in vista if sometimes you install a software and if having some problem with it, you uninstall and want to delete all of its files and everything….

    first uninstall the software in control panel then go to c:/Programme Files and you will see the folder of that software…..open it and delete all files in it and then delete this folder also……then you will be able to delete that folder in your drive which was unable to delete….

    I tried to help you if you not suceed then sorry may be you have some other problem…..you can send your queries to [email protected] … i will try my level best to help you

    thnx ….

  13. RevShawn says:

    I figured this out. Turn off System Restore.

    Thats all there is to it.


  14. P Kemke says:

    Hello all,

    I had the same problem and tried all the suggestions listed here. I am an MCSE (Microsoft Certifeid Systems Engineer) so I was pretty ticked that I could not get my empty desktop folder to delete.

    I finally got it to delete. The fix was to open the task manager and look for a software process that was running – that shouldn’t have been running. For my computer I had just downloaded and installed the PayPal Wizards for QuickBoooks and for Outlook. I stored these wizards in the folder that I could not delete. The computer (Vista) kept telling me that the empty folder was in use by another program so I could not delete or send to recycle bin or delete as admin using Windows Explorer. I opened up the task manager and saw 2 instances of the PayPal outlook wizard running and Outlook was not even open. I ended the processes and then the I was able to delete the folder.

    Hope this helps. Please be cautious when ending tasks in the task manger you can mess things up easily.

  15. Anon says:

    Sometimes when you get the permission denied error, its just a bug with explorer. Fix:

    1) Ctrl+Shif+Esc to bring up task manager
    2) Kill explorer.exe
    3) Start up a cmd window and rename or delete your file
    4) Start explorer again

  16. JimD says:

    Solved! Here is what I did, so others can use this if it helps. For a while, it seemed nothing could get rid of them…

    0. (Lots of stuff that didn’t work, false starts, etc., attempting to change ownership, etc. The “special privileges” on the files caused everything I tried to fail. I had some limited success with changing the owner of individual files to my UserID, but that was hit and miss, and very slow for trying to deal with 700+ files.
    1. Enabled the local Administrator account login for MYMACHINE. The password got automatically changed (group policy settings at our shop?) when I rebooted, so not sure this accomplished anything until later on. The command I used was:
    net user administrator /active:yes
    2. Disabled UAC from the command line of the Administrator account. Not sure this wound up accomplishing anything either.
    3. Did Cut and Paste to move all the folders to C:\Temp folder. This actually moved the files! I tried this in random thrashing around, and was surprised it was successful at moving the files. Note that the original problem still persisted, that I still could not delete any files from the subfolders of the Temp folder, about 8GB worth of space hogging files.
    4. Started up a Command Prompt, running as Administrator.
    5. Changed the password on the MYMACHINE\Administrator account to “mypw5678!”
    6. Executed the following TAKEOWN command, to take ownership of the files (assign ownership to Administrators group):
    TAKEOWN /S MYMACHINE /U MYMACHINE\Administrator /P mypw5678! /F C:\Temp\*.* /A /R
    This command takes ownership of everything under the Temp folder. The /S /U and /P parameters tell the command to run in “remote” mode, using the UserID and Password of the local Administrator account I had enabled. The /A parameter tells TAKEOWN to set the owner to the “Administrators” group, of which I am a member. The /R parameter tells the command to recurse through all subfolders and operate on all matching files there. The command ran without errors and listed all the files processed.
    7. Executed the following ICACLS command:
    ICACLS C:\Temp\*.* /grant myuserid:F /T /C
    This command grants “:F”ull access to user myuserid for all the files and folders under C:\Temp. The /T parameter says to recursively run the command against all matching files and folders in the subfolder Tree below. The /C parameter says to continue processing even if errors are encountered on some files. The command ran without errors and listed all the files processed.
    8. After this, I was able to use Windows Explorer to go in and delete all the folders below C:\Temp, with no further tweaks.
    9. Disabled local Administrator account login. The command used was
    net user administrator /active:no

    Note: Most of the junk files and folders were from failed installs of SQLExpress 2005, a Windows update that applied to my system. For some reason, the update failed about 30 times in a row before succeeding, and then left 8GB of garbage install files in hex-named folders at the root of my C: drive. Folders had names like


    Good luck, sorry for the formatting, copied directly from an Outlook Email, and I hope this saves someone the hours of frustration it caused me.

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