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Find out what user has a file open

One of the questions that pop up every now and again, yet not often enough for me to consistently remember how to do it, is some variant on “What user is blocking my file access?” A user will typically call in, complaining that they are unable to open/edit/delete a given file on a file share, and ask the support tech they reach to solve the issue.

Just as there are many ways to skin a deer, I would not be surprised if there are many ways to achieve this, too (at least three, counting the one I’m about to show you). I go about it in two steps; first I find out where the file is stored, then I look up who has it open. I typically ask the user to guide me to the location of the file, and then take it from there:

  • Right-click the folder containing the file, and select “Properties”
  • Go to the “DFS” tab, and look at the “Referral list”:
  • Next, run the command fsmgmt.msc, to open Shared Folders
  • Go to Action > Connect to another computer
  • In the dialog box that opens, I enter the name of the server found in the referral list
  • Go to Open Files
  • Navigate through the open files until you find the file in question

You will then be able to see who has a file open. You can also terminate the connection by right-clicking and selecting “Close Open File”. If the file in question is located on the computer you are accessing, you naturally do not need to connect to another computer. You can do the same from Computer Management (compmgmt.msc), too, but I find the Shared Folders view a little quicker to navigate.

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