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devices 'in use' by another program - why can't windows tell me what program that is?


Diamond Member
May 30, 2008
So often, in many different contexts, I get the problem where I can't perform an action on some external USB device, because Windows has decided its either "in use" or has a partition table "locked" by 'another program'. I can never work out what 'other program' this is.
e.g. was trying to format a memory card in a USB card reader, and I constantly get told that it's "locked" by "another program", but there are no other programs running. Other times it won't let me eject a device for the same reason.
I checked task manager and shut down things like ipod helper, but no matter what I do I can't find what program it is that is using the memory card and so preventing me from formatting it.

Why does windows not simply tell me what program or process is causing the problem?


Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
When this happens, in my experience it's usually explorer.exe itself that is causing the problem, and that is usually because it's having some kind of issue reading the drive.
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