It is a well-known fact among Windows users that if a file is already in use, another process cannot use or modify that particular file. This is a normal feature and, in most cases, is nothing to worry about. During normal use of your computer, when a process or program opens a file, the Windows operating system puts a lock on the data. If another process tries to make changes to it, the OS will not allow it. For another program to use the file, you have to close the process running it at the moment.

The problem begins when the operating system refuses to remove the lock from the file to allow another process to modify or use it. In this scenario, you see a message saying, “The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.” This issue can occur for several reasons. It could be because of Windows Error Code 0x80070020.

This article will discuss the various causes of this issue and how you can fix it. We will also show you how to fix the Photos app error 0x80070020 and get your computer functioning well again.

If you don’t want to go through the stress of fixing this problem manually, simply go to the end of this article to find a tool that will help you fix it automatically.

How to Fix “The Process Cannot Access the File Because It Is Being Used by Another Process”

You finally have a better understanding of why the process of your choice is unable to access your file. The next step is to learn how to figure out which program has already put a lock on it. We will discuss solutions to this error in two different sections, as it affects both Windows Update and the Photos app.

To find out what is responsible for the lock, you need to use a tool called Sysinternal Suite’s Process Explorer. This is software created by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, and it is designed to help you figure out which of your programs has a particular file or directory open. Whether you are an IT professional or an average user, you will find the tool useful in troubleshooting and diagnosing your Windows operating system.

Follow the link above and download Process Explorer. Launch it to begin the troubleshooting process and do the following:

  • Look for the “Find Window’s Process” icon and drag it over the file you are having this problem with. Drop it on the file to instantly reveal the program making use of it.
  • Now right-click on this process to kill it. This will stop the program from holding on to the file, and Windows will then remove the lock from it.

You can now go ahead and access the file with the program of your choice. The error will no longer occur.

What Is Windows Error Code 0x80070020?

Windows Error 0x80070020 is an error that can occur when you are trying to update or upgrade to Windows 10. When you encounter this problem, it means that the resources or files needed by the Windows Update process are being utilized by another program. The complete error message is displayed as follows: “The existing process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.”

Before you can fix this problem, you need to make use of the MSCONFIG tool. This program will help you to get your computer into a Clean Boot State. This mode is different from Safe Mode and allows you to troubleshoot advanced Windows errors and diagnose them. To execute a Clean Boot, do the following:

  • Open the Search box and type in “msconfig” (no quotes are needed). Now press the Enter button on your keyboard to open the System Configuration utility.
  • Locate the General tab and click on it. From the options displayed, choose Selective Startup.
  • Go to the checkbox next to Load Startup Items and uncheck it. Now go to Use Original boot Configuration and Load System Services to confirm that their boxes are checked.
  • At this point, go to the Services tab and select it. Go to the checkbox next to Hide All Microsoft Services and select it.
  • For this next step, go to Disable all and click on it.
  • You can now click Apply and OK to confirm your changes.
  • Restart your PC to activate your new settings and put your Windows OS in a Clean Boot State.

Check to see if the error has been resolved. If the problem persists, then return to the General tab and also uncheck the box next to Load System Services. Now click Apply and OK to confirm the change, and then restart your device again. This should resolve the issue.

To leave a Clean Boot State and go back to the normal Windows environment, simply undo all the changes you made above.

Note: The Disable all feature allows you to easily identify which program is causing a particular issue. You can enable your programs manually one after the other and then restart your system each time. If the problem reoccurs when you enable a specific process, you then know the culprit.

How to Fix Photos App Error 0x80070020

A similar issue also occurs with the Photos app. This error prevents it from saving a file because there is another process using it. This is not a serious problem; it just prevents the application from modifying the data. Sometimes, all you need to do is restart your PC and the error will be gone. However, if it keeps occurring, then follow the tips below:

Use a different name for the file

The solution might be as simple as using a different file name. Try this fix to see if it resolves the error. Remember to keep the new name short.

Save the file in a different location

If the solution above does not work, then you should try exporting the file to a different location and see if it works. If this fix fails to help you, go to the next solution.

Create a new file

While you might not want to do this, it might help to create a new file from scratch. Check to see if this makes a difference.

Save the file to your local hard disk

If you encounter this error when trying to save your file to OneDrive, Google Drive, or any other cloud-based storage tool, you should try saving it to your local hard drive. Then check to see if Error Code 0x80070020 reoccurs.

Fix Windows Errors Automatically

If you do not want to go through the stress of resolving this problem manually, we completely understand. This is why the Auslogics team designed an engine to help you get rid of software issues with just a click of a button.

Auslogics BoostSpeed is software created by a team of top professionals to help you clean your system, tweak your settings, and find and fix issues affecting your PC’s performance. With regular use of your Windows 10 device, corrupt files, broken keys, and junk files accumulate. They slow down your device, cause glitches, and lead to errors, like “The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.”

BoostSpeed will carry out a deep scan of your computer to diagnose and troubleshoot any issues and anomalies. It will present you with a report of its findings before going ahead and fixing the problems. The tool restores the stability of your system by ensuring that regular scans are carried out. This allows it to locate any dysfunctions or problems. It will resolve many issues before they even occur.

The best part is that once you choose a maintenance schedule, the tool follows it to protect and optimize your system automatically. This will ensure that issues and errors do not reoccur in the future.


We hope this guide has been helpful to you in solving the “The process cannot access the file…” problem. If you have any questions or suggestions to share, kindly use the comment section below.