C# – How to find out which process is locking a file using .NET


I've seen several of answers about using Handle or Process Monitor, but I would like to be able to find out in my own code (C#)
which process is locking a file.

I have a nasty feeling that I'm going to have to spelunk around in the win32 API, but if anyone has already done this and can put me on the right track, I'd really appreciate the help.


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Best Solution

Long ago it was impossible to reliably get the list of processes locking a file because Windows simply did not track that information. To support the Restart Manager API, that information is now tracked.

I put together code that takes the path of a file and returns a List<Process> of all processes that are locking that file.

using System.Runtime.InteropServices;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

static public class FileUtil
        public int dwProcessId;
        public System.Runtime.InteropServices.ComTypes.FILETIME ProcessStartTime;

    const int RmRebootReasonNone = 0;
    const int CCH_RM_MAX_APP_NAME = 255;
    const int CCH_RM_MAX_SVC_NAME = 63;

    enum RM_APP_TYPE
        RmUnknownApp = 0,
        RmMainWindow = 1,
        RmOtherWindow = 2,
        RmService = 3,
        RmExplorer = 4,
        RmConsole = 5,
        RmCritical = 1000

    [StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential, CharSet = CharSet.Unicode)]
    struct RM_PROCESS_INFO
        public RM_UNIQUE_PROCESS Process;

        [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.ByValTStr, SizeConst = CCH_RM_MAX_APP_NAME + 1)]
        public string strAppName;

        [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.ByValTStr, SizeConst = CCH_RM_MAX_SVC_NAME + 1)]
        public string strServiceShortName;

        public RM_APP_TYPE ApplicationType;
        public uint AppStatus;
        public uint TSSessionId;
        public bool bRestartable;

    [DllImport("rstrtmgr.dll", CharSet = CharSet.Unicode)]
    static extern int RmRegisterResources(uint pSessionHandle,
                                          UInt32 nFiles,
                                          string[] rgsFilenames,
                                          UInt32 nApplications,
                                          [In] RM_UNIQUE_PROCESS[] rgApplications,
                                          UInt32 nServices,
                                          string[] rgsServiceNames);

    [DllImport("rstrtmgr.dll", CharSet = CharSet.Auto)]
    static extern int RmStartSession(out uint pSessionHandle, int dwSessionFlags, string strSessionKey);

    static extern int RmEndSession(uint pSessionHandle);

    static extern int RmGetList(uint dwSessionHandle,
                                out uint pnProcInfoNeeded,
                                ref uint pnProcInfo,
                                [In, Out] RM_PROCESS_INFO[] rgAffectedApps,
                                ref uint lpdwRebootReasons);

    /// <summary>
    /// Find out what process(es) have a lock on the specified file.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="path">Path of the file.</param>
    /// <returns>Processes locking the file</returns>
    /// <remarks>See also:
    /// http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa373661(v=vs.85).aspx
    /// http://wyupdate.googlecode.com/svn-history/r401/trunk/frmFilesInUse.cs (no copyright in code at time of viewing)
    /// </remarks>
    static public List<Process> WhoIsLocking(string path)
        uint handle;
        string key = Guid.NewGuid().ToString();
        List<Process> processes = new List<Process>();

        int res = RmStartSession(out handle, 0, key);
        if (res != 0) throw new Exception("Could not begin restart session.  Unable to determine file locker.");

            const int ERROR_MORE_DATA = 234;
            uint pnProcInfoNeeded = 0,
                 pnProcInfo = 0,
                 lpdwRebootReasons = RmRebootReasonNone;

            string[] resources = new string[] { path }; // Just checking on one resource.

            res = RmRegisterResources(handle, (uint)resources.Length, resources, 0, null, 0, null);

            if (res != 0) throw new Exception("Could not register resource.");                                    

            //Note: there's a race condition here -- the first call to RmGetList() returns
            //      the total number of process. However, when we call RmGetList() again to get
            //      the actual processes this number may have increased.
            res = RmGetList(handle, out pnProcInfoNeeded, ref pnProcInfo, null, ref lpdwRebootReasons);

            if (res == ERROR_MORE_DATA)
                // Create an array to store the process results
                RM_PROCESS_INFO[] processInfo = new RM_PROCESS_INFO[pnProcInfoNeeded];
                pnProcInfo = pnProcInfoNeeded;

                // Get the list
                res = RmGetList(handle, out pnProcInfoNeeded, ref pnProcInfo, processInfo, ref lpdwRebootReasons);
                if (res == 0)
                    processes = new List<Process>((int)pnProcInfo);

                    // Enumerate all of the results and add them to the 
                    // list to be returned
                    for (int i = 0; i < pnProcInfo; i++)
                        // catch the error -- in case the process is no longer running
                        catch (ArgumentException) { }
                else throw new Exception("Could not list processes locking resource.");                    
            else if (res != 0) throw new Exception("Could not list processes locking resource. Failed to get size of result.");                    

        return processes;

Using from Limited Permission (e.g. IIS)

This call accesses the registry. If the process does not have permission to do so, you will get ERROR_WRITE_FAULT, meaning An operation was unable to read or write to the registry. You could selectively grant permission to your restricted account to the necessary part of the registry. It is more secure though to have your limited access process set a flag (e.g. in the database or the file system, or by using an interprocess communication mechanism such as queue or named pipe) and have a second process call the Restart Manager API.

Granting other-than-minimal permissions to the IIS user is a security risk.