Delete locked files - Unlocker Vs FileASSASSIN

fileasico unlockerico Maximillian_x of thefreewarejunkie.com made a post on portable anti-malware yesterday. Which sparked small discussion in the comments (with me :) ) on how portable one of the entries (Unlocker) is and should it be replaced with something more fitting (FileASSASSIN).

So this post is going to be direct comparison of two apps for very same purpose - deleting files that refuse to be deleted.

Basically when Windows refuses (or unable) to delete file it means that some program is currently working with it and prevents that from happening. So Windows cries “I can’t!” and you have to go and get extra application for what OS is supposed to do on its’ own.

Both Unlocker and FileASSASSIN use same method - they attempt to “unlock” file by removing all related processes and then delete it. Both have same plan B - scheduling file to be deleted on next Windows reboot (this is actually deeply buried native Windows function). However they are considerably different.

unlocker Unlocker has to be installed and it puts own driver in the system. It will actually work from flash drive but it is going to leave traces and reference to broken driver. Install gives it some advantages over FileASSASSIN :

  • Unlocker is comfortably called from context menu (right-click);
  • it is supposedly better at deleting (driver helps);
  • it shows which process(es) locked file.

In addition it supports command line arguments and “Unlocker Assistant” feature that automatically launches Unlocker when windows fails to delete file.


FileASSASSIN starts with GUI which you use to choose file for deletion (hint - it accepts drag’n’drop) and some options. Sadly it doesn’t work with directories and doesn’t show processes involved.

On the positive side it is available as portable and at times performs better than Unlocker (which is strange). It has command line arguments as well so both are usable for scripting.

Which one to use?

  • Unlocker is good in the comforting environment of your home PC.
  • FileASSASSIN is perfect portable tool for flash drive.

Being identical in functions and goals these apps shine in completely different situations.

Using both apps has very high probability of crashing your system into blue screen of death and reboot! Save everything you are working with and use “delete on reboot” if unsure.

Unlocker home&download page www.emptyloop.com/unlocker
FileASSASSIN home&download page malwarebytes.org/fileassassin.php

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  • Rob Dunn #

    Rarst: I'm glad I could help spur a good post from anyone...! This is a great informative post. I totally appreciate the info, AND - I like the blog! I'll be linking you up shortly...
  • Rarst #

    Thanks, positive feedback is always nice - shows me I made decent start. Could use some negative to show what still needs tuning, but only good so far. Our blogs have similar themes so expect more good comments and references from me in the future. :)
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  • nigel #

    thanks to the writer here i have managed to get rid of a very annoying program (coupons.com) that just appeared one day and refused to leave. file assasin killed and removed it in seconds followed by a quick regiistry clean, reboot and it's still gone hooray!