There are times when a file is open on a windows server and you need view what user or process has it open. These open files can be locked and prevent users from editing, cause errors when upgrading software, hold up a reboot and so on.

In this article, I will show you how to quickly view open files on windows server and workstations.

Both methods use built in Windows tools and works on most Windows versions (I’ve tested this on Server 2008, 2012, 2016 and Windows 10).

Video Tutorial

If you don’t like videos or want more details then continue reading.

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Method 1: Use Computer Management to view shared files/folder

This first method is used to view open files on a shared folder. This is the best way to troubleshoot locked files that users have left open.  If you need to see what process has a file open then check out method 2.

Step 1: Right Click the start menu and select Computer Management

Another way to access computer management is to type in compmgmt.msc into the start menu search box.

You will need to open up this console on the computer or server that has the shared folder. For example, I have a server called file1 with a shared folder named HR. To see the open files on this share I will need to open up the computer management console from the file1 server.

Step 2: Click on Shared Folders, then click on open files

I can now see that the user rallen has the HR folder and the file adpro.txt open.

If I needed to I can right click the file and select “Close Open File”. This is something that needs to be done when a file is locked.

That’s it for method 1.

If you need to check who has permissions to a file or folder then check out my guide How to view NTFS effective permissions. 

Methods 2: See process and file details with Resource Monitor

Step 1: Type Resource monitor into the start menu search box

This is the quickest way to access the Resource Monitor.

Another option is to open up the task manager, click the performance tab and then click Open Resource Monitor.

Step 2: Click on the disk tab in resource monitor

Now that I have the resource monitor open I just need to click on the disk tab.

Now I can see all kinds of details about the disk activity such as files open, PID, read and write bytes per second and more.

You can move the columns around so you can see the full file path.

If have a lot of disk activity you go stop the live monitoring so you can view the open file activity.

To stop the live monitoring go to monitor, then select stop monitoring.

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  1. Dmitry on May 23, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the tip. Cheers.

  2. Zak Jabbar on July 28, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    I cant believe in 2020 we still have to use an ancient tool in windows to drill into comp management , shares an open files to do this. Surely microsoft would have a extra feature where you just right click on file/folder to see which user is accessing the object.

    Netware had this feature out of the box back in 1990’s

    • Robert Allen on August 9, 2020 at 2:27 pm

      Microsoft’s built in tools have always been pretty basic. PowerShell has helped as it allows admins to create their own custom tools

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