Windows Power-User Series

How To Change Windows NT 4
System Files ( Even if you use NTFS )
[See here For Windows 2000 Systems]

If you use an NT computer at home, or you have Administrator privileges on any NT Workstation, then you can actaully make changes to files that are always in use by NT even if you are using the NTFS file system.

1) Get the Free InUse Utility Program from Microsoft

I did have a link here to the 'new' InUse version 1.31, but was informed by one user that it only works with Win 2000! Since I'm not positively sure one way or the other which of these versions of InUse can/or should be used on Windows NT, I've decided to make the 'old' version 1.3 available to you as well... with the understanding that you're using it totally at your own risk!
Take this link to d/l either version of InUse...
The Knowledge Base article can now be found here (at The Starman's Realm):
30.htm (was:

The Tech Net page from June 7, 1999 is a bit more user-friendly with a couple examples: This link no longer works!
Leave it to MS to remove helpful articles from their site!
I was recently informed, however,
that you can find a copy of that page at here: (thanks go to Haudy Kazemi for the link).

NOTE: Some of you may actually feel safer editing the Registry (or at least checking it) yourself! All of these InUse utils simply make a change in the Registry which controls renaming system files in use the next time your computer boots. It's done by creating a new value called "PendingFileRenameOperations." For more on this, read both the KB article above and this one:;EN-US;Q181345.

You will only see this little-red-cone icon when inuse.exe is viewed with a Windows NT system. This program is NOT for Windows 95/98 machines!

Here's an example for replacing Explorer.exe with a hacked version called Explorer.bak (USING the older inuse.exe version 1.3):

 InUse - version 1.3
 Copyright (c) 1994-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved

 Replaces files that are currently locked by the OS

 INUSE  source  destination  [/y]

  source         Specifies the updated file
  destination    Specifies the existing file to be replaced
  /y             Suppresses confirmation prompt to replace file
  /?             Displays syntax help

Source and destination must include the complete physical or UNC pathname

 InUse - version 1.3
 Copyright (c) 1994-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved

 Replaces files that are currently locked by the OS

 INUSE is about to replace the following file

         Existing:    C:\WINNT\EXPLORER.EXE
          Version:     4.0.1381.4

         Replacement: C:\WINNT\EXPLORER.BAK
          Version:     4.0.1381.4

 Do you want to continue?(y/n) y

         C:\WINNT\EXPLORER.BAK is replacing --> C:\WINNT\EXPLORER.EXE

 Changes will not take affect until you reboot.


Apparently this utility makes sure to keep the filename of the original no matter what the filename of the replacement file happens to be. I thought that I might need to rename explorer.bak to explorer.exe in another folder before invoking INUSE, but things worked out just fine as shown in the example above.


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