Windows Server – How To Close Open Files

Here I will describe how to close open server files and processes.

Every system admin on Microsoft Windows Server systems, at least once, will come in a situation that some file is open on a server, and it is needed to check what kind of process or user opened it.

This open files can cause some troubles, like upgrade errors, or reboot hold up etc.

It could be a huge problem, which, if not thought through, can cause the delay of updates, or errors in server maintenance.

More common, but less extreme issues regarding this could come from users. Sometimes, in situations when users leave shared files open on their accounts, some other users, when opening the same file can experience error messages, and cannot access the same file.

This article will show you the way how to deal with that kind of issues, how to find and close open files/process. The operations can be applied to Microsoft Windows Server systems 2008, 2012, 2016 and Windows 10 for workstations.

There are a lot of working methods to deal with that kind of problems, first, one that we will describe is a usage of computer management:

View open files on a shared folder

In a situation of locked files on the server, made by users, this method could come in handy to troubleshoot it.

Use right click on start menu and select Computer Management ( or in start menu search type compmgmt.msc)

The procedure is very simple, and in most cases, it works with no problems.

Click on Shared Folders”, and after that, on Open Files.

That should open the screen with a list of files that are detected as open, the user that opened it, possible locks, and mode that is opened in.

By right click on the wanted file, choose an option, “Close open file”, and that will close it.

With processes and file details, the process is bit different.

Usage of Windows Task Manager

Task Manager will not close opened shared files, but it can close processes on the system.

It can be opened with a combination of keys ctrl, alt, del ( and choose Task Manager), or right-clicking on the taskbar then choose open task manager option.

Under tab processes, you can see all active processes and line it by parameters CPU, Memory etc…

If there is a process that you want to terminate, it can be done by simply right click on the process, and then choose End Process option.

Usage of Resource Monitor

For every system administrator, Resource Monitor is “the tool” that allows control and overview overall system processes and a lot more.

Resource Monitor can be opened by typing “resource monitor” in a start menu search box.

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

When Resource Monitor opens, it will show tabs, and one, needed for this operation is Disk.

It shows disk activity, and processes, files open, PID, read and write bytes per second etc.

If the system is running a lot of “live” processes, it can be confusing, so Resource Monitor offers “stop live monitoring” option, which will stop processes on screen running up and down, and will give you an overview of all processes up to “stop moment”.

Resource monitor offers an overview of opened files paths and processes on the system, and with that pieces of information, it is not a problem to identify and close files or processes.

Powershell cmdlet approach

Of course, PowerShell can do everything, GUI apps can, maybe even better, and in this case, there are several commands, that can and will close all your system’s opened files and processes.

There are more than one solutions with PowerShell scripts, and it is not recommended for administrators without experience in scripting.

For this example, we will show some of the possible solutions with PowerShell usage.

The following examples are applied to  Server Message Block (SMB) supported systems, and for systems that do not support SMB, the following examples will show how to close the file with NET file command approach.

In situations where one, or small numbers of exact known open files should be closed, this cmdlet can be used. It is, as usual, used from elevated PowerShell, and applies to a single file ( unsaved data on open files, in all examples, won’t be saved).

Close-SmbOpenFile -FileId ( id of file )
Are you sure you want to perform this action? 
Performing operation 'Close-File' on Target ‘( id of file)’. 
[Y] Yes [A] Yes to All [N] No [L] No to All [S] Suspend [?] Help (default is "Y"): N

There is a variation of cmdlet which allows closing open files for a specific session.

Close-SmbOpenFile -SessionId ( session id )

This command does not close a single file, it applies to all opened files under the id of the specific session.

The other variation of the same cmdlet is applying to a file name extension ( in this example DOCX).

The command will check for all opened files with DOCX extension on all system clients and it will force close it. As mentioned before, any unsaved data on open files, will not be saved.

Get-SmbOpenFile | Where-Object -Property ShareRelativePath -Match ".DOCX" | Close-SmbOpenFile -Force

There are a lot more this cmdlet flags, and variations which allow applying a lot of different filters and different approaches to closing open files.

Powershell Script approach

With PowerShell scripts, the process of closing open files and processes can be automated.

$blok = {$adsi = [adsi]"WinNT://./LanmanServer"

$resources = $adsi.psbase.Invoke("resources") | Foreach-Object {

 New-Object PSObject -Property @{

 ID = $_.gettype().invokeMember("Name","GetProperty",$null,$_,$null)

 Path = $_.gettype().invokeMember("Path","GetProperty",$null,$_,$null)

 OpenedBy = $_.gettype().invokeMember("User","GetProperty",$null,$_,$null)

 LockCount = $_.gettype().invokeMember("LockCount","GetProperty",$null,$_,$null)



$resources | Where-Object { $_.Path -like '*smbfile*'} |ft -AutoSize

$resources | Where-Object { $_.Path -like '*smbfile*'} | Foreach-Object { net files $_.ID /close }


Invoke-Command -ComputerName pc1 -ScriptBlock $blok

Our example script enables closing a file specified by path, that should be inserted In the script.

This way of closing open files is not recommended for administrators without PowerShell scripting experience, and if you are not 100% sure, that you are up to the task, do not use this way.

Close A File On Remote Computer Using Command Line

There are two other ways to close the open files. Either Net File or PSFile (Microsoft utility) could be used to close them. The first command can be ruined by usage of NET File command using the Psexec.exe remotely. The NET command does not support any Remote APIs.

Net file command can list all open shared files and the number of file lock per file. The command can be used to close files and remove locks ( similar to SMB example before) and it is used, similar to example before, when user leave a file open or locked.

It can be done with the following syntax

C:>net file [id [/close]]

In this syntax, ID parameter is the identification number of file ( we want to close), and of course, parameter close, represents action we want to apply to ID ( file).

Best practice of NET file command usage is to list open files by running Net File command, which lists all open files and sign it with numbers 0, 1, etc

So when files are listed, the command which will close open files is ( for example),

C:>net file 1 /close

So command will apply in a way that will close a file signed with number 1.

PsFile usage

PsFile is a third party application, but I will not put it in a list of third parties, as any good system administrator should use it as “normal”.

commands are similar to net file commands, with a difference that it doesn’t truncate long file names, and it can show files opened on remote systems locally.

It uses the NET API, documented in platform tools, and it becomes available by downloading PsTools package.

 psfile [\\RemoteComputer [-u Username [-p Password]]] [[Id | path] [-c]]

Usage of PsFile “calls” remote computer with valid username and Password, and with path inserted it will close the open files on the remote system

For Processes opened on the remote system, there is a similar command called PsKill, which on same principle “kills” processes.

Release a File Lock

In some situations, a problem with closing files can be handled by releasing a file lock. There are many examples of users locking their files, and leave it open ( for some reason, the most common type of locked files are excel files).

So all other users get an error message of type: Excel is locked for editing by another user, and get no option to close it or unlock.

As an administrator, you should have elevated rights and with right procedure, that can be fixed easily.

With pressing windows key and R, you will get windows run dialog.

In run dialog type mmc ( Microsoft Management Console).

By going to option File > Add/Remove Snap-in, add a “Shared Folders” snap-in.

If you are already an operating system that has the issue, choose Local Computer option, if not, choose Another computer option and find a wanted computer name.

Expand the Shared Folders, then select open files option.

Choose locked/open file, and close it by right click and selection of Close open file.

The described procedure will unlock and close an open file ( similar as in the first example of an article), and users will be able to access it.

Usage of Third-party apps

There is a lot of third-party apps with the purpose of handling open server files on the market.

We will describe a few of most used ones in this purpose.

Process Explorer – a freeware utility solution from Windows Sysinternals, initially created by Winternals, but acquired by Microsoft. It can be seen as Windows Task Manager with advanced features. One of many features is the close open files feature, and it is highly recommended for Server Administrators and IT professionals.

Sysinternals can be accessed on the following link :

OpenedFilesView – Practically a single executable file application, displays the list of all opened files on your system. For each opened file, additional information is displayed: handle value, read/write/delete access, file position, the process that opened the file, and more.

To close a file or kill a process, right-click any file and select the desired option from the context menu.

It can be downloaded on the following link :

Lockhunter – usually a tool with a purpose of deletion of blocked files ( to recycle bin). It can be a workaround for open files, and it has a feature of listing and unlocking locked files on your system. It is very powerful, and helpful in a situation when system tools fail.

It could be downloaded on following the link:

Long Path Tool – Long Path Tool is a shareware program provided by KrojamSoftthat, as its name suggests, helps you fix a dozen issues you’ll face when a file’s path is too long. Those issues include not being able to copy, cut, or delete the files in question because its path is too long. With a bunch of features, this could maybe be an “overkill” for this purpose, but it is definitely a quality app for all sysadmins.

It could be downloaded on following link:

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