Win 7 Locked Thumbs.db Files

I am a photographer with almost 100,000 pictures to manage and migrating from Vista where I could delete all of the 6 Thumbs.db files with CCleaner at will I was shocked to find that they are locked in Win 7 and neither CCleaner nor Eraser are allowed to access them for secure deletion. I finally found a freeware program called LockHunter (x86 and x64) which revealed what program was locking these 6 Thumbs.db files…

I used LockHunter on each of the thumbcache files and now whenever I run CCleaner the entire contents of all 6 files are combined and placed in an instantaneously created file new to Win 7 named ‘ThumbCacheToDelete’ where they are then able to be detected and securely deleted by CCleaner shortly thereafter.

Although I was pleased to once again have some control over these Thumbs.db files I did notice a change in my Win 7 x64 computer that is related to the deletion of Thumbs.db and that is as soon as I unlocked the thumbcache files from the control of Explorer.exe the Disc Cleanup shortcut disappeared from Disc Properties…


Why do you want those files gone? Personally I feel no hate against them…

But if you want them gone here is a more permanent solution:

That I haven’t tried personally…

So I can’t tell if it will work or not. :slight_smile:

Yes, turning off the creation of thumbnails is always an option and seems to be the only option according to the many MS MVP responses I have read to the legions of users who are complaining about this situation, but as a photographer with >100 GB of digital pictures which are numerically archived I very much depend on the thumbnails to locate individual pictures for use.

I had become used to being able to securely delete the Thumbs.db files upon demand with Eraser or CCleaner under the Vista OS and I was very disappointed that Win 7 is set up to have them locked in Explorer refusing the user access to the Thumbs.db files for the option of secure deletion.

We as users have traditionally been allowed free access to all files and and the option to determine the level of security with which they are deleted, but Microsoft’s migration towards the elimination of these user options concerning the secure handling of content that they have created is the blatant elimination of user rights. All that I am seeking is the control over content that we all have taken for granted up until these changes in the Win 7 operating system and I think that using Lock Hunter has been a huge step in that direction in that I now have access to these previously locked files to perform any level of secure deletion I choose just as I did before Win 7 and now CCleaner is allowed to access and securely delete the 6 Thumbs.db files as well as the new the Thumbs To Be Deleted file in Win 7 just as it had in previous versions of Windows…


It’s probably due to some sort of ownership/premission issue I think…

Maby this can help: make sure you are logged in as admin and truley own those files and folders…

(not that I think you need it but here is how you open the command prompt to run the command line things described above: )


Thank you for your excellent suggestion regarding taking ownership of the Thumbs.db files. I first did as you suggested and took ownership of the files and then tried to overwrite the Thumbs.db files with Eraser as I used to do in Vista, but I got the same message that the file was locked in another process which I know now is Explorer.

This is not a disappointment because since I used Lock Hunter on these files although I am still not able to access them directly CCleaner is able to access and delete them several times a day and I am fine with that.


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I like to use fileassassin in malwarebytes to delete files that refuse to be deleted. It does that by deleting it on restart :slight_smile:

Malwarebytes is a great program and I use it everyday for on demand scanning. Eraser also offers the option to delete stubborn files during the next start up of the computer, but now after unlocking the Thumbnail cache the Thumbs.db files are readily available for deletion on demand with no need to restart the computer.


Hmm I’m not sure I follow you. You are basically saying that you found a way to get rid of the tumbs.db files and you are happy now? =)

(And you will also post a bunch of pictures on all the hot girls you photographed throughout the years?)

As you know the thumbnailcache files can not be gotten rid of , but their contents can be securely disposed of by overwriting them. Up until a few days ago the only advise I could get from the MS MVP’s on several sites was to turn off the thumbnail cache feature in Win 7 in order to solve the problem of these files being locked by Explorer and unsecurely deleted directly to the drive without the traditional option of using CCleaner, Eraser or any one of dozens of third party programs to securely delete them.

As a photographer with over 100 GB of digital photos turning off the thumbnail cache is just not an option, but I found a program that will unlock the Win 7 thumbnailcache files and make it as available for secure deletion as they were in Win 2000, Win XP and Win Vista which makes me happy to have found a solution to this problem which the MS MVP’s had no workable solution for because as an example this thumbcache is just from this afternoon…