How to fix Access denied error in Windows

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how to fix access denied error

We’ve all encountered it – you attempt to open a file and the File Access Denied error pops. This problem often happens after reinstallation of Windows. Other cases when you can encounter this error is when you try to move a file from one folder to another. Another possibility is security related. Your system can deny access to some files if it sees them as a threat.

So why does the “Access Denied” error appear?

There are plenty of reasons why this error can appear, but the most common are:

  • The folder ownership has changed
  • You don’t have the appropriate permissions
  • The file may be encrypted
  • The file may be corrupted

What are your options if you want to access the restricted files and fix the access denied error?

Method 1 – Get ownership of the file or folder

If by any chance you upgrade your Windows to the latest version your account information might change. This is the reason why you lost ownership of some folder and files and you see the “Access Denied” error.

So how to restore the ownership of your files and folders?

For Windows 10 and Windows 8 follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the folder, and then, choose “Properties” on the menu
  2. Click “Advanced” in the “Security” tab. Click on “Change”
  3. Type the account name that you want to assign ownership to. Then click on “Check Names” button > “OK”
    screen of permissions dialog
  4. If you want to give this account the ownership of the files and subfolders contained in this folder, enable the “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” option. Click “OK”

For Windows 7:

  1. Right-click on the folder, and then, choose “Properties”
  2. Click on the “Security” tab>”Advanced” button
  3. Choose “Edit” in the “Owner” tab to change the owner
  4. Hit on “Other users or groups…” button to manually choose the username and type your account name
  5. Next, click on the “Check Names” button>”OK”. Enable “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” option, if you want to take the ownership of the files and subfolders
  6. Click “OK”

screen of Select Users or Groups

Method 2 – Get Permission of the File or Folder

If you are not granted the appropriate permissions to access files and folders you will be faced again with the “Access Denied” error. You can get permissions for files and folders by following the steps:

First of all, you need to check permissions on a file or a folder. Here we’ll show you a simple tutorial below.

  1. Right-click on the folder and then hit “Properties”
  2. Select the “Security” tab
  3. Click on your name in “Group or user names” to check the permission that you have

If you want to change the permissions on a file or a folder, you should log on the PC as an administrator. Next, click on “Edit” in “Security” tab. And then, choose your name and enable the check boxes of the permissions that you need.

screen of security dialog

You can also check our more detailed tutorial about this method here.

Method 3 – Unencrypt File or Folder

The role of file encryption is to protect the users’ files and folders. If you want to access encrypted files you will need the certificate that was used to encrypt it in the first place. To check the files or folders for encryption follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the folder and then hit “Properties”
  2. In “General” tab, click on the “Advanced” button

After that, you can check if “Encrypt Content to Secure Data” option is enabled. If it is checked, you will need the certificate to open the file or folder. If “Encrypt Content to Secure Data” option is unchecked, the file or folder is not encrypted.

screen of choose settings

Method 4 – add your account to the Administrators group

Windows 10 by details has an Administrator account that is built-in. By using this account you should be able to access all your files and folders.

Due to security reasons, it is not easy to access this account. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Press Windows Key + X and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu
  2. When Command Prompt starts, type the following net user administrator /active: yes command. By doing so the administrator account will be unlocked
  3. Log off of your account and switch to the newly enabled Administrator account. You should be able to access your files without any problems
  4. After you’re done using the Administrator account, switch back to your main account and start Command Prompt as administrator again. Type the following net user administrator /active: no to disable the Administrator account

Keep in mind that when you switch to your regular account the Access denied error can still appear. In this case you need to get back to the Administrator account and make the necessary changes that we talked about in the previous steps.

Method 5 – Use Command Prompt to reset permissions

There are cases where OneDrive causes problems when it comes to getting access to the Pictures folder. You can do the following to fix the problem:

  1. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the bottom right corner and choose Settings from the menu
    screen of context menu
  2. Go to the Auto Save tab. Set both Documents and Pictures to This PC only. Click OK to save changes
    screen of Microsoft OneDrive AutoSave

In case that this does not solve the problem, you need to do the following in Command Prompt:

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator
  2. Type in the following commands:
    • cd /users/Your_Username
    • icacls Pictures /reset /t /q
    • cd /<path to OneDrive folder>
    • icacls Pictures /reset /t /q
  3. After that restart your PC

Access denied error can prevent you from installing new applications, because you can’t access your files and folders. We hope that we have managed to solve your issues with the solutions that we provided!

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Walter Prochorenko says:

When I tried to run RevoUninProSetup.exe I am blocked by a Windows message that states:
Windows protected your PC
Microsoft Defender SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk.

Unknown publisher

VSrevo Team says:

Hello Walter,

Our support team will contact you to solve your issue, but in the meantime you can read our tutorial on How to unblock files blocked by Smartscreen

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