Microsoft DOS erase command

Updated: 12/20/2017 by Computer Hope

About erase

Erase is a command used to remove files from your computer's hard drive or other writable media.


The erase command is an internal command and is available in the below Microsoft operating systems.

All Versions of MS-DOS
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8
Windows 10

Erase syntax

Windows command line syntax

DEL [/P] [/F] [/S] [/Q] [/A[[:]attributes]] names
ERASE [/P] [/F] [/S] [/Q] [/A[[:]attributes]] names

names Specifies a list of one or more files or directories. Wildcards may be used to delete multiple files. If a directory is specified, all files within the directory will be deleted.
/P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.
/F Force deleting of read-only files.
/S Delete specified files from all subdirectories.
/Q Quiet mode, do not ask if ok to delete on global wildcard
/A Selects files to delete based on attributes
attributes R Read-only files
S System files
H Hidden files
A Files ready for archiving
- Prefix meaning not

If Command Extensions are enabled DEL and ERASE change as follows:

The display semantics of the /S switch are reversed in that it shows you only the files that are deleted, not the ones it could not find.

Early versions of MS-DOS syntax

DEL [drive:][path]file name [/P]
ERASE [drive:][path]file name [/P]

[drive:][path]file name Specifies the file(s) to delete. Specify multiple files by using wildcards.
/P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.

Erase examples

Erase c:\windows\*.TMP

Delete any files that end with the TMP extension (i.e. temporary file).

Tip: You will not receive a confirmation prompt when performing this command. Once executed, all files will be deleted unless the files have a read-only attribute and the /F switch is not being used.

Additional information

  • See our delete and erase definitions for further information and related links on these terms.