I’ve recommended a few computer utilities here before, but I just had an experience with one that I must share with you because it was so positive.

The program is simply called Unlocker 1.9.0. I had earlier versions of it on another computer and the last time I used it, it popped up a message informing me there was a new version of it available for download.

First, let’s talk about what it is and what it might do for you.

If you have ever done a lot of moving or copying files from one place to another on your computer, or from one computer to another across a network, you’ve sooner or later had an error that says it can’t be done because the file is in use by another program. That’s annoying enough. Usually you go and close the file in whatever program it was open in, or just close the program, and the problem is cured.

But sometimes, a file just gets marked as ‘open’ and you can’t get it to get free to move no matter what you do. Certain unruly programs are nastier about that than others, leaving the file locked even after the program is closed. Sometimes a reboot is needed to free the file up. Very annoying, but it’s just one of those Windows annoyances.

I found Unlocker as a solution to that. Not only does it let you resolve this issue, it sits there quietly monitoring things and comes up automatically whenever you run into a locked file. It lets you do whatever you need to fix it. I get this all the time with files I want to delete. One of the options is to delete the file. It’s simpler in use than it is to describe.

Well, the last time I used it, it told me there was a new version. So I clicked on the link to the web site and got a 403 error – website not found. Happens all the time. Site change hosts or whatever, so I googled it and found it available at Download.com and downloaded it.

I was happy to see there that it had been updated to work with Windows 7 and for either 32 or 64 bit systems. So I decided to put it on my laptop which runs Win 7. As soon as I did, I got a warning from my virus program that said it contained spyware.

That dissapointed me, but considering the programs track record so far, I hoped it was a false positve or excessively cautious warning. but before I installed it, I wanted to know more.

Once again I looked for the authors’ web page and got the error. It was in french and gave no clue to a new site. There was an email address on the download page, so I sent off a quick email, thinking I would never hear anything.

I went to the downloaded file, a self-extracting .exe archive and rather than open it and risk the wrath of my antivirus, I extracted the contents and looked for the cause of the warning. I scanned each file individually but the AV program must have marked it to ignore. But I soon saw why it warned me: it had a couple of those ad-based add-ons (I think one was Yahoo toolbar) that frequently come with free software. So I went ahead and installed it. Each of the spyware-toolbar-adware programs came up with an option to opt out of installing them and I was happy to skip them and get on to the program. Sorry I didn’t support the program, but there are enough people who might miss them to pay it’s way.

Anyway, today, I got a pleasant email from the author with an explanation that there was a problem with the program web site, he hoped to solve it soon and that there was an alternative site with all the information on it.

Okay, so not only did a useful program get updated to use with Win 7, the virus warning turned out to be an overreaction and the program safe, but the author quickly answered an inquiry about a free program. That’s exceptional in this day and age and I thought I’d share that here.