Windows server, unable to delete folder tree

Hey gang … weird problem here.

I have a folder full of folders, that are some years old, and contain nothing useful anymore. They were created and abandoned by malfunctioning backup software, Quest RapidRecovery.

I’ve tried both command line and GUI methods to delete the entire subtree but it’s not going away. Explorer (gui) fails silently, claiming it’s deleting but actually does nothing. Powershell remove-item -force -recurse fails on the first subfolder with an error “file not found”, which is odd.

CHKDSK says the drive is clean, no errors. It’s not an ACL issue, but to be sure I’ve taken ownership and reset all the permissions.


Hmm. Maybe try going into the folder structure and finding the lowest folder(s) and deleting them first? That might give you some more info. I’ve occasionally had windows explorer hang on trying to delete a folder structure, and had to dig down and delete the base file/folder that is causing the issue, and then the rest of the structure can be deleted no issues.

Or try rm -rf in wsl? Or boot up a live linux image, mount the drive and try to delete from there?

From what you’re explaining, it sounds like the Windows character limit was reached (somehow on the first folder) and retiring out. It’s not uncommon to happen, but I second a live Linux USB to make it quick. Otherwise start at the lowest level and g’luck!

You may not be able to delete a file if the file uses an Access Control List (ACL). To resolve this issue, change the permissions on the file. You may have to take ownership of the files to be able to change the permissions.

Administrators have the implicit ability to take ownership of any file even if they have not been explicitly granted any permission to the file. File owners have the implicit ability to modify file permissions even if they are not explicitly granted any permissions to the file. Therefore, you may have to take ownership of a file, give yourself permissions to delete the file, and then delete the file.

Try what is already said, and also do a “checkdisk -f” because this happens also if the folder is corrupted.

Do subfolders delete okay? Could there be something special about the main folder? Like windows marking the folder itself as a backup location or some special thing?

If the contents can be removed, then maybe what remains is pointed to in some setting or used as a mountpoint or something?