Unlocker vs LockHunter: which one should you get for your “file unlocking” needs?

Most of us know, or have heard about, Unlocker. On the other hand relative few of us have heard of LockHunter. Yet, both are excellent “file unlockers”. So, which one is better to have, and why it is better? Lets find out.

Before I delve into the discussion on Unlocker and LockHunter respectively, let me explain really quickly what I mean by “file unlocker” for those that are confused. Have you ever tried to move, delete, rename, or modify a file (or folder) and were slapped on the wrist by Windows because either the file (or folder) “is in use by a program”, you are “denied access” (even though you have administrator access to the computer), or something similar? I know I have run into this problem many times. Most of the times whenever this problem happens, it seems like even if you close all possible open programs you can think of, you are still unable to move, delete, rename, or modify that bloody file. Windows can be nasty like that (often times there is useless activity, that you are not aware of, related to handles, DLLs, blah, blah going on in the background even after you stop using a program). So to combat this problem, “file unlockers” were created. A file unlocker, in layman’s terms, terminates all open connections/links to the file in question and allows you to do what you want with the file. Now if you continually and repeatedly get an error when trying to move, delete, rename, or modify files, you most likely have malware installed on your computer and a file unlocker will not solve all your problems (it can still help though). However for the every now and then stubborn file, file unlockers can be very useful.

Now onto the core part of this article: Unlocker vs LockHunter. The first thing you should know about these two utilities is Unlocker is somewhat of a “veteran” while LockHunter is the “new kid on the block” (in fact LockHunter is still in Beta). However, in LockHunter’s defense, has been actively developed in 2009 than Unlocker (Unlocker’s last release was in 2008). That being said, Unlocker and LockHunter both can do the following:

  • Detect and display all processes, DLLs, files, programs, etc. currently locking the file (or folder) you want to unlock
  • Unlock the file (or folder) in one click
  • Selectively close detected processes (or close them all)
  • Delete the file (or folder) once unlocked

Additionally, both Unlocker and LockHunter create right-click context menu entries so you can easily unlock files (or folders).

As you can see, the core features of Unlocker and LockHunter are the same; both will give you the similar ability to unlock files or folders. There is only one major difference between the two…

  • LockHunter officially supports Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/Win7 and works on 32-bit and 64-bit.
  • Unlocker officially supports Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista (although it seems to work fine on Win7) but only works on 32-bit.

…and a few minor differences:

  • When LockHunter deletes a file, it deletes it to Recycle Bin so you have a chance of recovering it if you decide later on deleting it was a mistake or whatever. Comparitvely, Unlocker deletes it to… well I don’t know; wherever prema-deleted files go to I guess. What I am trying to say is, files deleted with Unlocker do not go to Recycle Bin.
  • LockHunter has a much more aesthetically pleasing and organized interface than Unlocker.
  • Unlocker has some sort of “assistant” that is supposed to you do something, which I was unable to test because it doesn’t work in Vista or Win7, while LockHunter doesn’t.
  • Unlocker allows you to rename or move files from within the program (in addition to deleting them) while LockHunter does not (however you can always rename or move files using native Windows commands after you unlock them).
  • Unlocker does not have much of an interface outside of initiating it via the context-menu whereas you can always launch LockHunter separately or via context-menu.
  • Unlocker is a 255 KB download while LockHunter is ~1.2 MB.

One potential pro Unlocker may have over LockHunter is Unlocker is able to complete any task after a reboot if it is unable to perform the task right then and there. I don’t know if LockHunter is able to do this or not because the developer does not specifically state the feature nor have I run into an issue (yet) where LockHunter told me to reboot my computer.

So, in conclusion, both Unlocker and LockHunter are very similar, and very useful programs. What will be the ultimate factor in a decision of Unlocker vs LockHunter is “which one works on my computer”. Personally, since I run 32-bit user and have a choice of both, I like LockHunter’s superior interface (why not have eye candy when it is available) and therefore prefer it over Unlocker. Which one do you use? Feel free to comment below.

You can grab Unlocker and LockHunter from the following links:


Version Reviewed: 1.8.7

Supported OS: 32-bit only Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista

Unlocker homepage [direct download]


Version Reviewed: 1.0 Beta 3

Supported OS: 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/Win7

LockHunter homepage [direct download: 32-bit | 64-bit]

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