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Oct 08, 2011, 12:28 AM by Ratio in Technology

Processes and Files

You need Process Explorer. It's a free program and available as part of the SysInternals Suite or as a standalone. It's available here at the time of this writing: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653

Finding the process that's preventing you from moving a file that you want to.
  • When you try to move a folder and it fails, don't ignore the error window! It will tell you exactly what file can't be moved.
  • Open Process Explorer.
  • Hit Ctrl+F and type in the name of the file you're searching for. This will probably return multiple results. Select the on that matches the directory path that you're trying to move.
  • Once you have the appropriate file selected, the process that has that file open will be hi-lighted grey in the upper pane. If System is hi-lighted, you're probably going to have to dig on the internet to find out what service is using the file.
  • If you don't know what the process is, google it. If it's a non-vital process, you can kill it (right-click -> Kill process). Repeat for all files that are giving you trouble until you can move the directory without error.
  • This also helps for deleting files that Windows won't let you.


Finding out what files a program is using.
  • Open Process Explorer
  • If the lower pane isn't open, hit Ctrl+H to show process handles.
  • Click on the program or process that you want to know about and a complete list of everything that it's touching and messing with will appear in the bottom pane.
  • At this point, you probably want to sort the handle list by name, so that actual files are grouped together. Files start with a drive letter and have the full path listed (like C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows\MSS.log)
  • You can then go examine the file to determine if you want to symlink it somewhere else. Generally speaking, it's pointless to move Microsoft log files as they're mostly logging errors. What you want to watch for are games (and memory intensive applications like Maya, Photoshop, or Premiere) creating large cache files on your SSD. These are the things you want to symlink to somewhere else. In the case of these types of cache files, they are created on application launch and destroyed on application termination so you need to symlink the directory that contains the file and not the file itself as the symlink may be destroyed when the program closes. As a note, most well written programs that have their own cache file have a way inside of the program's preferences to specify where the cache should be created, so symlink'ing is not necessary in those cases. Other programs (especially games) just toss caches around willy nilly, though most modern games are using your user directory for that information like they're supposed to.

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