The Action Can’t Be Completed Because the File is Open in NodeRunner.exe

On an Exchange Server 2013 server that is installed with the Mailbox server role, when you attempt to delete the files and folders for a database or database copy that has been removed, you may receive an error.



The action can’t be completed because the file is open in noderunner.exe

Inside the folders that previously contained the database you will see various subfolders and index files relating to search services.


The issue is that even though the database has been removed the search/index files are still locked by the noderunner.exe process and can’t be deleted.

Using Process Explorer we can see that noderunner.exe is a child process of the Microsoft Exchange Search Host Controller (HostControllerService) service.



To clear the file lock you can restart the HostControllerService service using PowerShell.

PS C:\> Restart-Service HostControllerService

You should now be able to delete the files and folders successfully.

In my own scenario the HostControllerService began consuming a large amount of CPU for a short period of time after the restart, but then calmed down to normal levels again after a few moments.

About Paul Cunningham

Paul is a Microsoft Exchange Server MVP and publisher of Exchange Server Pro. He also holds several Microsoft certifications including for Exchange Server 2007, 2010 and 2013. Connect with Paul on Twitter and Google+.


  1. Thanks. This was useful.
    So what is the right way to delete the Exchange files after we remove the MB Database? Do you suggest restarting the host controller service all the time.

  2. But you know what, the files will be generated later again!

    Pretty scary…I believe the FAST cache should be cleared somewhere but MS just didn’t release any information about it…

    • Yes they will be generated again if you create a database or database copy in that path again.

      • Hi Paul,
        I’m afraid those files will be generated again even if you do NOT create a database in that path again… It seems to me the Search Service creates those files again even if the db is deleted.

        This looks like a Microsoft bug to me.

  3. Thanks Simon.
    Just verified. This problem is fixed in CU1.

  4. The problem exists with the final release of Exchange 2013 Enterprise. Stop the service, delete the entire folder, start the service and the folder is recreated. You can’t get rid of these files.

  5. It appears with Exchange 2013 SP1..
    I deleted when the service was stopped. I’m afraid to look for process monitor.. may be it search these files again….

  6. Paul, I’ve run into a similar issue, but I can’t perform a database reseed because it’s showing that a process has locked the edb file. The process that seems to have it locked is I can’t seem to find a way to remove that lock. Tried restarting the service mentioned above, tried to restart the information store (after failing all DBs over), but it’s still showing it’s locked by the same process. I tried to rename the EDB file since it’s only 4GB, but it said the process had it locked. Any thoughts on removing that lock?

    • You tried restarting the info store but did you try stopping it instead?

      • I just tried your suggestion and it still wouldn’t reseed – the file remained locked by the store.worker.exe process. Bizarre! I finally got a reseed going by failing over all DBs and rebooting the server. Not much of a long term fix, but at least it’s something for now.

  7. Looks like this is still an issue with SP1. I’ve stopped FastSearch, Host Controller and Store and once they’re started again, the files and file structure reappear.

    Any news on this?

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