How to Delete an Irremovable File


I recently found a website that uses a badly programmed file retrieval function to have users download a PDF file. Whenever I downloaded a linked PDF file from the website, my Windows system created not one, but two PDF files.

However, the second PDF file had a zero byte size and a blank space after the file’s extension, like this: irremovable.pdf . This second file was irremovable via Windows Explorer or any other similar programs.

The erroneous programming on that website was useful to me, because it enabled me to try several methods of deleting the irremovable file.

First, I tried to rename or move the irremovable file. Windows couldn’t do this because the system couldn’t find the specified file. The file didn’t exist anymore but it still appeared in the folder system.

Native Windows Solution

Next, I tried to delete the file using Command Prompt.

To do this, launch Command Prompt via Start > All Programs > Accessories. In the Command Prompt window, type and enter the following commands:

With these commands I located the irremovable file’s folder. In my case it was located at d:\downloads. Please, change the commands to match the reality on your computer.

The last command lists the original MS-DOS short names for all files in the located folder. Short names use the 8.3 scheme, meaning 8 characters for the file name and 3 characters for the file extension.

Find the short name of the irremovable file and delete it using this short name. In my case the command was:

You can also use wildcards, such as:

This method deleted the irremovable file without any problems.

Important Note

If the above solution doesn’t work, try launching Command Prompt in admin mode. To do this, right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator from the drop-down menu.


Another way to successfully get rid of such “ghost” files is to use Unlocker.


Unlocker — Delete

Install and run the Unlocker program.

Browse to the location of the irremovable file and click OK.

Then select Delete from Unlocker’s action menu and click OK.

The file will be instantly erased.

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