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#1
Old 04-04-2015, 12:11 PM
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How do I delete "phantom files" in Windows 7?

Here's the problem: in my download folder for Firefox, there are some files which are remnants of aborted downloads. These files are named like the original files that were tried to download, but without extension, with a filesize of 0 Bytes. When I try to delete them in Windows Explorer, I get the message (paraphrased from my German copy of Windows):

"This element couldn't be found ... The element is no longer located in H:\Downloads. Check the element's location and try again."

So it seems like the folder/file allocation is somehow corrupted. I tried to empty the folder and delete it, but no dice: it can't be deleted because it still contains those corrupted files. I also tried to delete them with "del" from a command line, but that doesn't work either.

It's no big deal, but I like to keep my folders tidy and want to get rid of these files. Google didn't help; I got a lot of hits for explanations to delete files that are still in use by some programs, but that's not the problem in my case. So what can I do?
#2
Old 04-04-2015, 02:01 PM
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Hmm, have you tried booting into safe mode and deleting it there? Can you take a screenshot of the error?

Last edited by Reply; 04-04-2015 at 02:01 PM.
#3
Old 04-04-2015, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reply View Post
Hmm, have you tried booting into safe mode and deleting it there? Can you take a screenshot of the error?
Can't remember if I tried that, but I'll try it now. A screenshot wouldn't be of much use, as the error box only contains the error message I quoted in the OP, but in German.
#4
Old 04-04-2015, 02:07 PM
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Check the attributes. I'll bet one or more flags are set to prevent deletion.

Check for hidden files. If one is read only, yet you can't see it, that would explain what you are experiencing.
#5
Old 04-04-2015, 02:11 PM
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You should be able to delete the file inside a command prompt. Click on your start button and choose cmd.exe (I suppose it might have a different name in the German version). Then navigate to the proper folder as in DOS days using cd and erase the files using del.
#6
Old 04-04-2015, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
You should be able to delete the file inside a command prompt. Click on your start button and choose cmd.exe (I suppose it might have a different name in the German version). Then navigate to the proper folder as in DOS days using cd and erase the files using del.
Won't work if they are R/O and/or hidden. You may have to change the attributes first (ATTRIB).

Last edited by Musicat; 04-04-2015 at 02:17 PM.
#7
Old 04-04-2015, 02:16 PM
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Use http://emcosoftware.com/move-on-boot
#8
Old 04-04-2015, 02:23 PM
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Tried it in safe mode: no difference, I get the same error message. The files are neither R/O nor hidden. As I said in the OP, I tried to delete from a command prompt, didn't work either.

I suspect that the error lies somehow with what used to be called file allocation table, I don't know the equivalent on a NTFS drive. If it makes a difference, those files are located on a NTFS partition of a physical hard drive.
#9
Old 04-04-2015, 02:32 PM
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What if you did a "rd /s downloads" to delete that entire folder?
#10
Old 04-04-2015, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yoyodyne View Post
Tried it, didn't work. MoveOnBoot says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoveOnBoot
Warning Schedule File for Deletion The application can't access the following file - it may be blocked or doesn't exist on the file system, so its deletion may not succeed on the next Windows boot.
So as I guessed, the issue is somehow deeper in the system than just a blocked file. There seems to be a mismatch between what Windows Explorer displays and what exists for the Windows file system.

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 04-04-2015 at 02:50 PM.
#11
Old 04-04-2015, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reply View Post
What if you did a "rd /s downloads" to delete that entire folder?
Already tried, didn't work. The error message was "Folder not empty" or something to that extent.
#12
Old 04-04-2015, 02:56 PM
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Have you done a disk check?
http://howtogeek.com/howto/windo...windows-vista/
#13
Old 04-04-2015, 02:59 PM
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Sounds like you might have some corruption in the file table. I'd try setting the system up to run chkdisk the next time you restart.

Instructions here.
#14
Old 04-04-2015, 02:59 PM
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Can you do a dir /x Downloads -- which will list the shortnames of files in that dir, like corupp~1.zip -- and then try deleting the shortname version in the command prompt?

If dir /x doesn't work, it should just be the first 6 letters of the name and then a ~1.ext(ension)

Last edited by Reply; 04-04-2015 at 03:01 PM.
#15
Old 04-04-2015, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reply View Post
What if you did a "rd /s downloads" to delete that entire folder?
Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
Already tried, didn't work. The error message was "Folder not empty" or something to that extent.
To my shame, I seem to have that misremembered. So I tried that again, and alas, that did the trick. Thanks, Reply, and also thanks to all the others who wanted to help.

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 04-04-2015 at 03:05 PM.
#16
Old 04-04-2015, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
To my shame, I seem to have that misremembered. So I tried that again, and alas, that did the trick. Thanks, Reply, and also thanks to all the others who wanted to help.
Huzzah!*

*I have no idea what that word actually means, but it sounds cool.
#17
Old 04-04-2015, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
I suspect that the error lies somehow with what used to be called file allocation table, I don't know the equivalent on a NTFS drive.
Master File Table.
#18
Old 04-04-2015, 06:04 PM
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Chkdsk works for NTFS, but I haven't tried it on Win 7. If that is your problem, chkdsk /f is a fix.

I wrote the above 3 hours ago, then was called away from my computer before posting. I see the advice is no longer needed, but I'll post it anyway.
#19
Old 04-04-2015, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
To my shame, I seem to have that misremembered. So I tried that again, and alas, that did the trick. Thanks, Reply, and also thanks to all the others who wanted to help.
You probably just tried plain "rd Downloads." Without the /s, directories won't be removed unless they are empty.

And, yeah, run a chkdsk /f to check for and repair errors, just in case it's not just in your Downloads folder.
#20
Old 04-04-2015, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Chkdsk works for NTFS, but I haven't tried it on Win 7. If that is your problem, chkdsk /f is a fix.

I wrote the above 3 hours ago, then was called away from my computer before posting. I see the advice is no longer needed, but I'll post it anyway.
Probably this would have resolved the issue, too. I frankly didn't think of chkdsk, because since the days of Win 9.x and XP I think I've never used it again.

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 04-04-2015 at 06:23 PM.
#21
Old 04-04-2015, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
It's no big deal, but I like to keep my folders tidy and want to get rid of these files. Google didn't help; I got a lot of hits for explanations to delete files that are still in use by some programs, but that's not the problem in my case. So what can I do?
Log in as administrator and use command line. There may be a way to fire up an administrator cmd session directly or you can use the procedure at Enable Administrator
#22
Old 04-04-2015, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
You probably just tried plain "rd Downloads." Without the /s, directories won't be removed unless they are empty.

And, yeah, run a chkdsk /f to check for and repair errors, just in case it's not just in your Downloads folder.
Yeah, that's probable, my DOS fu is a bit shaky after all these years.
#23
Old 04-04-2015, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jezzaOZ View Post
Log in as administrator and use command line. There may be a way to fire up an administrator cmd session directly or you can use the procedure at Enable Administrator
there is: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/...=ws.10%29.aspx
#24
Old 04-05-2015, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
Yeah, that's probable, my DOS fu is a bit shaky after all these years.
Well, back in the DOS days, you'd use a different command anyways: deltree. And, before that, you'd need to manually go through and delete all the files and folders before using rd.

Last edited by BigT; 04-05-2015 at 07:54 AM.
#25
Old 04-05-2015, 08:16 AM
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FileASSASSIN from Malwarebytes will delete locked files. I've used it many times.

It used to be an option in Malwarebytes. Now its a separate dl.

Last edited by aceplace57; 04-05-2015 at 08:16 AM.
#26
Old 04-05-2015, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Well, back in the DOS days, you'd use a different command anyways: deltree. And, before that, you'd need to manually go through and delete all the files and folders before using rd.
There was a handy utility, inspired by CP/M, written by Gary Berg, called sweep.com, ca. 1984, that would traverse the entire tree from a designated starting point, repeating a command for each. You could do SWEEP DEL *.* to delete all files below the execution level.
#27
Old 04-05-2015, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
There was a handy utility, inspired by CP/M, written by Gary Berg, called sweep.com, ca. 1984, that would traverse the entire tree from a designated starting point, repeating a command for each. You could do SWEEP DEL *.* to delete all files below the execution level.
As DOS went mainstream there were a metric boatload of similar utilities.

And the capability was incorporated into command.com / cmd.exe at some point as the >FOR command. I don't remember when that happened though. Might have been as early as DOS 4, might not have happened until cmd.exe as released somewhere around Win 95 and NT.
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