Why can’t i delete a game folder?

Trying to delete a game folder and finding that you can’t can be frustrating. There are a few common reasons why deleting a game folder may not work as expected.

The Folder is in Use

One of the most common reasons you can’t delete a game folder is because the files are currently in use by the system. Many games and game launchers will have background processes, threads, or services that are accessing files in the game folder even when the game is not running. These types of processes will lock files while they are in use, preventing the folder from being deleted.

For example, the Steam game launcher has a background process that is constantly checking for updates to your games. This Steam process will lock game folders so they can’t be modified or deleted while Steam is running. Most other game launchers like Origin, Uplay, Battle.net, Epic Games Launcher, and GoG Galaxy run similar background processes that can lock down game folders.

To get around this, you need to fully quit out of any game launchers or background services related to the game you want to delete. On Windows, check the system tray and right-click to exit any game clients. On Mac, QUIT out of the applications fully. Once all background processes are stopped, you should be able to attempt deleting the folder again.

Permissions Errors

Another common reason a game folder may refuse deletion is due to permissions errors. The user account you are using may not have the correct permissions to modify or delete files and folders in the game directory.

Games are usually installed to the main Program Files or Program Files (x86) folders on Windows. These folders are protected and require administrator rights to make changes. So if your user account is not an admin or is a child account with limited privileges, you can receive errors when trying to delete files and folders in Program Files.

On Mac, the Applications folder has similar permissions restrictions, as does any folders in the root Library folder. Normal user accounts are blocked from making changes to these directories.

To fix, you need to either switch to an administrator user account, or manually take ownership of the game folder and files so your user has the rights to modify and delete the contents. On Windows 10, right-click the folder -> Properties -> Security tab -> Advanced -> Owner (Change to your account) -> Apply.

Files are Still in Use by Other Programs

The game’s files and folder may still be tied up by other programs on your computer. For example, if you have a file explorer window still open and accessing the game folder, it can’t be deleted. Or an antivirus scan could be locking files while checking them. Maybe a program has stored temporary files in the game directory. Any app still using the game folder will block it from deletion.

Solutions include closing all other programs that could be accessing the folder, ending tasks/processes that have locked files, and stopping or excluding the game folder from your antivirus app. You may need to reboot your PC to clear any locks by still running programs.

Folder Path is Too Long

If the file path and folder name for the game you want to delete is extremely long, you may get errors trying to remove it. Windows has limits on how long a folder path can be – generally 260 characters is the maximum length.

Some game launchers create deeply nested folders with long names in the Program Files directory. GOG in particular is known for excessively long paths. If the total path exceeds 260 characters, you will not be able to delete the folder by normal means.

To fix, you need to shorten the folder name or move the folder closer to the root drive. Carefully rename folders or edit the path to shorten it under the 260 character limit. Then you should be able to delete the folder.

Folder is Compressed or Encrypted

If a game folder has been compressed into a zip archive or encrypted, you will not be able to directly delete the folder until the compression or encryption is undone.

Some launchers like Origin allow you to compress installed games to save disk space. This places the game folder inside a zip-type archive file. To delete a compressed game folder, you first need to uncompress it back to a regular folder.

Encryption from a third party tool would also block deletion access. The folder would need to be decrypted first before it can be removed.

Folder or Files are Corrupted

In rare cases, corruption in Windows can cause folders and files to become undeletable. If just part of a folder or filename gets corrupted, the entire directory structure can become inaccessible.

Corrupted system files, drivers, malware, bad sectors or failing hardware can create havoc with folder permissions and locking. You may get cryptic errors when trying to delete files within a corrupted folder structure.

To fix corrupted folders, you generally need to reboot into Safe Mode and use the Command Prompt to unlock and rename affected folders. The SFC and DISM tools can also repair system file corruption. Uninstalling problematic apps, updating drivers, removing malware with antivirus scans, and checking your hard drive health can help resolve these tricky corruption issues.

Folder is Hidden or System

If a game folder has been marked as a Hidden or System folder in Windows, it exists in a special state that prevents deletion through normal means. Hidden folders do not show up in Windows Explorer, while System folders are inaccessible to standard user accounts.

Some games may add these special attributes to folders or files as a form of lightweight “DRM”. This prevents users from easily modifying or deleting key game components.

To delete a folder with Hidden or System attributes, you need to first unset these flags. This can be done from the Command Prompt, by running attrib commands, or using the Folder Attributes extension in Explorer. Once the special attributes are removed, the folder should delete normally.

Folder Deletion is Blocked in Registry

In extreme cases, the Windows Registry may contain policies or rules that forbid the deletion of certain protected folders. This security measure is sometimes used by system administrators in corporate environments.

If registry policies block deleting a game folder, the operation will simply fail silently or with a permissions error. To allow deletion, the administrator would need to remove the restrictive registry policies.

For individual users with this issue, the only solution may be to uninstall the game through the Control Panel to clean up the installed folder.


Game folders can be stubborn to remove due to the many layers of protection modern operating systems employ. Games utilize background processes, permissions restrictions, long paths, compression, encryption, and other obstacles that can prevent simply deleting the folder directly.

With some effort to close programs, take ownership, resolve corruption, and remove special attributes, the folder can almost always be deleted successfully. Anti-piracy measures and hard-coded folders protections provide additional challenges. But ultimately, no game folder is completely undeletable if you know the right techniques.

Reason Solution
Folder in use by background processes Fully quit game launchers and services
Permissions error Take ownership or use admin account
Files still in use by other programs Close programs accessing the folder
Path too long Shorten folder name/path
Folder compressed or encrypted Uncompress or decrypt the folder
Corrupted files or folders Repair corruption, check hardware issues
Folder has Hidden/System attribute Remove special attributes
Deletion blocked in registry Change policy or uninstall game via Control Panel

With some persistence and the right troubleshooting techniques, no game folder is impossible to delete. Just be sure to fully exit any game clients, resolve permission issues, close other programs accessing files, shorten long paths, remove special attributes, and repair any corruptions. Taking the proper steps tailored to the specific blockers on your folder will ultimately allow you to reclaim the disk space.