File Governor unlocks locked files and folders in Windows

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 20, 2014
Software, Windows software

Sometimes when you want to delete, move or rename a folder or file Windows refuses to do so. You may receive a message that the action can't be completed because the folder or file is open in another program, and options to try again or to cancel the operation.

Trying again won't usually make any difference and while you can go hunting for the program that keeps the file or folder locked, it may not be that easy to do so manually.

While you can close all open programs on your system hoping that the program locking the files or folders is among them, you are out of luck if a background process is holding it hostage.

That's where programs such as Unlocker come into play. These programs cut the tie between the file and program so that the operation can be completed.

folder in use

File Governor review

File Governor is a free program for Windows that provides you with a similar functionality. The program is available as a portable version and installer for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows.

Once you start it up, you can use the main interface to scan specific files or folders on the PC. To do so, you can click on the buttons to open a file browser, or use the mouse to drag and drop files or folders into the interface instead.

File Governor will scan the files and folders that you add and displays all processes that it can link to the data.

Each file is displayed with its process name and ID, the locked object, process path, type and handle.

The program makes available three actions to deal with the issue. It is possible to kill the process or processes that lock the file or folder, or use the unlock buttons instead which performs other operations such as unloading dll files so that you get full access to the files or folders again.

You can right-click on a line instead for additional options. Here you can for instance look up the file on Virustotal or perform a search for it on the Google search engine.

Other options include opening the local program folder or file properties. All of these options can be useful in analyzing the issue further before you use the unlock or kill option provided.

You can use the settings to add an entry to Windows Explorer's context menu so that you can run File Governor comfortably selecting it, use the utilities menu to open core Windows administrative programs such as the Task Manager or Registry Editor, or use the program's own tools menu forcefully delete selected files directly or on reboot.


File Governor is a handy program that can help you resolve issues with locked files and folders on Windows. One advantage that it has over the popular Unlocker is that it is regularly updated while Unlocker was last updated more than a year ago.

STill, if you already use Unlocker there is little reason to use File Governor, unless you make use of the additional utility and tools options that it makes available.

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  1. DMV said on August 4, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Will Nirsoft be the next SysInternals? I hope not… ;-)

  2. Ken Saunders said on July 22, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Ya, I’m also using an old version of Unlocker.
    File Governor seems appealing, but I like the quick right click extension that Unlocker offers. File Governor seems to be less convenient with more steps involved.

  3. PhoneyVirus said on July 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Unlocker was the go to application for me, but File Governor looks great and it`s Portable. Also Nirsoft do have lots of useful little programs and I played with most of them.

    Thanks for the Tutorial Martin


  4. JoeBlack40 said on July 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    I am using both Unlocker and Iobit Unlocker…if one of them fails,the other one will complete the job.So far ( for more than 2 years),my “philosophy” is accurate.

  5. Paul(us) said on July 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    The last version of Unlocker, being version 1.9.2, is from 5/16/2013 do you know or there abandon the project or are still busy with developing?

    1. ilev said on July 21, 2014 at 7:03 am

      Unless there are bugs, there is no need for updates. Windows 8,9.. haven’t changed from windows 2000/NT.
      There is also Portable IObit Unlocker 1.1

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Don’t know what is going on.

  6. dexter86 said on July 20, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Nirsoft has lots of useful little programs and one of them is OpenedFilesView :)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Agreed, Nir Sofer is really productive and created awesome programs.

  7. Dave said on July 20, 2014 at 1:54 am

    File Governor seems worthy of being in my toolbox :)

    Unlocker, with it’s bundled malware, does not.

    1. Blue said on July 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      By the author’s own words:

      Unlocker 1.9.2 for 32 and 64 bit – 5/16/2013

      – Improved Installer: Universal installer for both 32 and 64 bit machines
      – Fixed Bug: Fixed small memory and behavior bugs
      – Promotional feature: Fully optional Delta toolbar.

      There is the option to un-check the Delta Toolbar and it doesn’t install in the background or by a hidden process. The author even told you about it ahead of time. Don’t blame him if you didn’t read the site prior to installing the software. If you got the software through a third party provider, then most likely they tacked on even more unwanted software and not the author’s fault. He admitted to tacking on the, “Delta Toolbar”. Anything else is tacked on by the hosting company.

      p.s. I’m still using 1.9.1 because at the time I found 1.9.2 buggy under Windows 7-64b and 1.9.1 hasn’t given me any problems so I don’t see a point to changing anything.

    2. mazling said on July 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Unlocker has malware? I can’t find anything.

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