Cannot delete files from old hard drive with Windows installation.

I'm new to the forum. Saw all the great help that has been offered to people (though I haven't found a solution to my problem yet, as it seems to be VERY specific). While looking for solutions I seemed to come very close to finding someone with my exact problem, but not quite. Here goes:

I had a hard drive with Windows 7 installed. Everything worked, etc. Got a new hard drive, and installed 7 on there as well without making changed to the old hard drive (prompts displayed during new installation saying "old" windows files would be saved). I've been using it for a while now, however I want to use the old hard drive strictly for storage, so I tried to format it to clear the space out. I got the notice "Windows cannot complete format." Went to the forums and looked thru several suggestions, which brought me to try deleting the files individually.

Included in all this were attempts to give myself (the only user on the computer) full control of all files (which was already the case), to take ownership (via right click options AND command prompt "takeown" and "cacls"), to change permissions/ownership via "properties" for the drive/folders, command prompts to remove the "active" status of the old hard drive, as well as removing "boot" status from old drive (while making sure the new drive had "boot" status), tried everything I can think of using Disk Management AND the DiskPart utility, as well as countless other suggestions that I can barely remember. I'm still getting the "You need permission to perform this action." What I don't get is, if I'm THE administrator (and the only user), how do I not have access to this?

I'm really hoping you guys can help me out as I've been all throughout several forums and have found nothing.

I'm sure there are some details I'm leaving out, but I've been at it for hours. Let me know if there's something you need to know. Running Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit, 4GB RAM, 3.2 Ghz AMD Athlon II.

And thanks in advance, I know the help that's offered here is free and coming from people taking time out of their own day, so I don't expect a miracle (but one would be welcome).


Senior Member
To delete an active HD, it must be done outside of Windows. I think perhaps a 3rd party partitioning app such as Partition Wizard or Easeus Partition Magic free would work. You install the app, run it, delete the CORRECT partition (I would rename the partition ahead of time to something like DeleteThisCopy), then Apply (Partition Wizard terminology, do not recall Easeus terminology) When you click apply the app will reboot the PC and run the deletion outside the Windows environment. You can then reboot into the new Win 7 OS (you might have to repair the MBR at this point) and use the same partitioning app to extend the Win 7 OS to the unallocated space created when you deleted the old Win 7 OS.

To repair the MBR you should be able to simply insert the Win 7 installation media, boot to it and do a repair install. Windows should detect the changes and repair the MBR. This may not need to be done until afterward. If you can boot into Win 7, you can use EasyBCD to easily get rid of the incorrect Boot record for the Win 7 install you deleted.

Went with Partition Wizard, and it did the work for me without having to shut down or anything. Pretty powerful program. Deleted the partition, then recreated a partition, stored data on it just to make sure it actually worked, and I have no problems so far. How is it that of all the suggestions I stumbled upon about my problem, none of them were as simple as downloading a program?

Thank you for your help. I really didn't think it would be that simple. Good thing there's smart people like you around to help simple people like myself :)

Thanks again!


Senior Member
Well digger, I'm glad I could help. I do not think I'm any smarter than the average bear, perhaps just played with these things we call PC's a little longer. I have also learned much from various forums. Keep reading and posting. I just assumed you would have to work outside Windows. Was even easier than I thought. It may have been different if it had been in a different partition on the same HD. In that case I believe you would have had to reboot and deleted the partition outside of Windows.

I have a similar problem, so I'll write it here.

I have folders on my E: drive, that can't be deleted. They are some leftovers from Windows Update or sth, don't exactly know, how they were created there.

I can't delete them, because I need permission from SYSTEM.
I took ownership, but this doesn't help.

I have some other folders or files with same 'disease' e.g. some in Documents, or Pictures.
They have a small locker icon on them.

It happened when I reinstalled Windows about month ago.


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