Many Windows users have encountered files that they cannot delete. I had been able to handle most of those problems pretty easily. The tools I used were Unlocker, to delete the problem file from within Windows conveniently, and Ubuntu Linux, when Unlocker failed.
I was able to switch to Ubuntu pretty quickly, if necessary. I was using Ubuntu 10.04 on a dual-boot system. I had installed VMware Workstation 7.1 in Ubuntu, and had created a virtual machine (VM) running Windows XP SP3 in Workstation.
But in this case, I wasn't having file deletion problems in Windows; I was having file deletion problems in Ubuntu. Specifically, I was running into difficulties when trying to use an external USB hard drive. For instance, when I tried to delete a file from the external hard drive, I first got this message:
Cannot move file to trash, do you want to delete immediately?No problem there, to my knowledge; it was a 2.2GB .avi (i.e., video) file, so maybe it was too big for the trash. So I clicked Delete. This gave me "Error while deleting," and when I clicked on "Show more details," I got this: "Error removing file: Input/output error." Similarly, when I tried to move some .avi files manually from the internal hard drive to the external USB drive, I got "Error while copying" and, in the details, "Error opening file [filename]: Input/output error."
Through a relevant search, I came across a post that made me think I should try to approach this from the Windows side. That seemed ironic at first, but then I reflected that the target drive was NTFS. That is, it was formatted for use by Windows. I wasn't having this problem with my Ubuntu ext3-formatted drives.
So I went into Windows and tried to do the same maneuvers I had just tried in Ubuntu: connect to the USB drive; delete one file from the external (NTFS) USB drive; move files from an internal (ext3) drive to that external USB drive. I didn't get too far. Windows said the folder on the USB drive "is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable." Was that what "input/output error" in Ubuntu meant?
I ran Disk Management (Start > Run > diskmgmt.msc), right-clicked on the USB drive > Properties > Tools > Error-checking > click both boxes > Start. I clicked on out of there and rebooted so that the error check would run. But this did not repair the drive. On a second try, I watched more closely. The VM did reboot, but it did not run a disk check. Apparently the problem was that the external USB drive did not become connected to the VM until after the operating system had already restarted, by which time it was too late for a disk check. So I rebooted the VM again, this time with a WinXP installation CD in the CD/DVD drive, and ran CHKDSK /R from the Recovery Console.
CHKDSK ran for a while and then said, "The volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems." This particular external drive consisted of a hard drive in an external enclosure. I took the drive out of the enclosure and put it directly in the computer. This time, CHKDSK ran successfully. I repeated CHKDSK until it reported no more errors, and then put the drive back in its enclosure. Now I was able to delete the file. Problem solved!