Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn

Windows ErrorA while back I was downloading several files from my hosting account. For some reason I got cut off in the middle of what I was doing. I ended up with a file / icon on my desktop that didn’t resemble any traditional Windows file that I had seen before.

I obviously tried right click delete – Nothing happening there. Renaming the file – Same thing nothing happening.

I tried deleting and renaming it with another program no luck there either. I even tried Windows Command Prompt and still nothing.

This is the first time that I have had a file do something like this in all the 20+ years I have been working with computers. Now this little guy that I couldn’t get rid of is not really a problem. It’s more of a nuisance and slightly annoying more than anything, but I was bound and determined to get rid of it somehow.

After taking a look at the file properties, I had something like:

Could not find this item

This is no longer located in C:\Users\Me\Desktop. Verify the item’s location and try again.

_some-file.html
Type: File
Size: 0 bytes
Date modified: 10/10/2012 12:32

 

Example:

File Delete Failure

 

I did read a few suggestions, but people kept saying to install various software programs. One person even said it might contain adware though. Gee Whiz, what a great idea and recommendation that is hey! Let me get that one strait I should install some program that contains adware just so I can delete a file that isn’t causing any problems? Who are these people! It makes me wonder what kind of junk people have on their computers, and if they really know what all these programs do that they are so quick to install.

I was about to give up when I started thinking about Windows short file names (SFN).

Here is a snipped from Microsoft about Short File Names:

Windows supports long file names up to 255 characters in length. Windows also generates an MS-DOS-compatible (short) file name in 8.3 format to allow MS-DOS-based or 16-bit Windows-based programs to access the files.

More information available here:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/142982

 

What happens is a file name such as _some-file.html will also become 0_SOME-~1.HTM or similar. Basically it is _some-file.html and 0_SOME-~1.HTM.

Here is a screen shot:

Command Prompt

 

So I can use Windows Command Prompt to get the Short File Name and then delete it that way.

How to Delete a File that Won’t Delete From the Windows Desktop

To do so assuming the file is located on the Windows Desktop you need to open and run Command Prompt as the Administrator.

1) Click on the “Windows start menu” (The little Windows logo on the bottom left part of your desktop screen).

2) In the search for programs and files box type/enter: Command prompt.

3) When the search results are returned right click on Command Prompt and choose “Run as Administrator”.

4) Choose yes if it prompts you to allow the program to make changes. If you are not logged in as the Administrator you may need to provide login/password credentials to continue.

5) Once Command Prompt is open as the Administrator it should say: C:\Windows\system32.

6) Type cd / and hit enter.

7) Navigate to the desktop or where the file you want to delete is located by typing:
cd Users\Your-computer-name\desktop

After doing so it should say:
C:\Users\Your-computer-name\desktop

Note:
You would replace “Your-computer-name” with the name of your computer/user.

 

8) Type dir /x to get the short file name of all the files and folders on your desktop.

Tip:
If you have a lot of files and folders on your desktop you can display the ones that start with a specific letter by using dir /x s*.* instead. Change the letter ‘s’ to match the starting letter of the file or folder you are looking for.

 

9) Find the short file name for your particular file or folder. It will be to the left of the regular/long file name.

Example:
I want to delete _some-file.html the short file name is: 0_SOME-~1.HTM

Command Prompt

 

10) del 0_SOME-~1.HTM

(To delete it I would type in the Command Prompt window:
del 0_SOME-~1.HTM hit enter and BOOM!! It’s gone!)

 

Additional:
Make sure you are deleting the right file. Command Prompt does not ask if you are sure. It deletes it without asking so be careful.

I am not saying that this will delete anything you toss at it, but if you have a strange and stubborn file on your Windows desktop or elsewhere that you can’t delete it might be worth a shot.

About: Jeremy LeSarge - AKA: Ray (212 Posts)

I am the site owner and administrator of DialMe.com. I provide help and tips for Boonex Dolphin on the main part of this website where you will also find an assortment of other resources. Here, on the blog I write about a variety of topics surrounding WordPress, technology, social media/networking, SEO, and webmaster resources.