“Access Denied” Folder Errors on Windows 10? 5 Easy Fixes

Ben Stegner Updated 09-12-2019

You might find it strange when Windows tells you that you don’t have permission to access something on your own computer. Usually, this is a result of permissions in the NTFS file system Windows uses by default.


If you see access is denied messages on Windows 10 when trying to access a file or folder, we’ll walk you through the steps to resolve this.

1. Are You an Administrator?

Windows 10 Admin User

In the majority of cases, you’ll need to be an administrator on your PC to make changes to file/folder ownership. You may be able to tweak the permissions in directories that belong to you, but won’t have much control elsewhere.

This is to keep everyone’s files on a computer private. Only administrators can gain access to files that belong to another user. In addition, you’ll need to provide admin permissions to make changes to system files, such as those in the Program Files and Windows folders.

See our guide to getting admin rights in Windows How to Get Admin Rights on Windows Here's how to get administrator privileges on Windows 10 if your admin account isn't working for some reason. Read More if you haven’t done so yet. We’ll assume you’re an administrator moving forward.


2. Fix Access Denied Errors by Taking Ownership

The most basic fix to try when you see “folder access denied” is to take ownership of the folder through the File Explorer. Here’s how to do this.

First, right-click the folder or file in question and select Properties. On the resulting window, switch to the Security tab. We’re interested in the Advanced button; click this.

Windows Folder Security Window

At the top of the next window, you’ll see a field labeled Owner. This will likely say Unable to display current owner if you’re having an issue. Click the blue Change link next to this to fix it—note that you’ll need to be an administrator to do so.


Windows Folder Advanced Security Settings

You’ll now see a dialog box titled Select User or Group. Inside this, enter the account name of the new folder owner. This can be either an account username, or a group of users on your PC. Groups include standard units like Administrators (if you want all computer admins to own it), or Users (for everyone to own it). In home usage, it usually makes the most sense to assign ownership to one person.

We assume that you want to take ownership of the folder with your own account, so type your username here. If you use a Microsoft account to sign into Windows 10, your username is the first five letters of your email address. Hit Check Names once you’re done to make sure it’s correct. If you are, it will automatically change to PCNAME\USERNAME. Click OK.

Windows Taking Ownership of Folder


Back on the main Advanced window, you’ll notice a box at the bottom that starts with Replace all child object permission entries. If you want your changes to apply to all folders inside the current one (which you probably do in most cases), check this box. Then hit OK twice, and you’re all done.

Be Careful When Changing File Ownership Settings

When dealing with “access denied” errors, you should apply the above steps with care. Avoid taking ownership of folders in system directories like Windows, Program Files, Program Data, or similar.

Doing so will weaken the security of your system, because normal accounts aren’t meant to be the owners of these directories. They contain important Windows folders that you shouldn’t touch 5 Default Windows Files and Folders You Should Never Touch Windows contains countless default files and folders, many of which the average user shouldn't touch. Here are five folders you should leave alone to avoid damaging your system. Read More .

You can still get access to these folders, using the method above, without becoming the owner.


3. Review Folder Permissions

Windows Edit Folder Permissions

If taking ownership of a folder doesn’t work, or you’re an administrator trying to give permissions to someone else, you should next review what users have which permissions on the folder in question.

Pull up the same Security tab in a folder’s properties as before. At the top, you’ll see a list of users and groups on your PC. Select an entry here, and the bottom panel will show what permissions they have for this folder.

As you’d expect, Full control gives you complete power over the folder and everything inside. Read is the most restrictive option, as it only allows you to see what’s in the folder. See Microsoft’s page on file and folder permissions for a more detailed breakdown.

4. Double-Check Your Antivirus Settings

Windows Defender Controlled Folder Access

Sometimes, your antivirus can get overzealous and end up messing with your ability to access files. If you’ve confirmed that everything is square with your file permissions above, you might consider testing this next.

Take a look around your antivirus program’s settings and see if there’s a file shield or similar setting. Try disabling this and then access the file again. If it doesn’t have an effect, temporarily disable your antivirus entirely and see if that helps.

5. Check for File Encryption

Windows Folder Content Encryption

Another reason you might see the “access is denied” message is that a folder’s contents are encrypted. As you may know, encryption protects a file by only allowing someone with the key to view it.

You can encrypt folder contents in Windows, though this feature is only available in Professional versions. To do so, right-click it, and on the resulting window, click the Advanced button on the General tab. Here, check Encrypt contents to secure data. With this in place, everything inside the folder will be locked.

This type of encryption is transparent, meaning that the owner never notices the encryption. As long as they’re logged into the system, they can access these files. But if you don’t have the certificate used to encrypt the folder, Windows will deny you access. Whoever encrypted the file will need to unlock it.

This isn’t the only way to encrypt files in Windows 10, but it could cause the error you’re seeing.

Other Potential “File Access Denied” Fixes

We’ve covered the most important solutions for the “folder access denied” problem. You’ll see a lot of advice floating around the web for this issue, but not all of it is great. Some of it revolves around gaining admin permissions, which we’ve already discussed.

Other advice may not work in every case, but it’s worth bringing up in case nothing else was successful for you.

One common tactic is to disable User Account Control (UAC). To do this, type UAC into the Start Menu and choose Change User Account Control settings. Drag the slider all the way down and hit OK.

UAC Windows 10

Once you’ve done this, try the above steps again to take ownership. After you’re done, make sure to reset the UAC setting to where it was.

As another troubleshooting step, try booting your computer in Safe Mode How to Boot in Safe Mode on Windows 10 Facing Windows booting problems? Safe Mode is a built-in Windows 10 troubleshooting feature you should try first. Read More and running through the steps to take ownership. This rules out any interference from third-party programs.

Finally, make sure that nothing else is using the folder or file you want to access. Another process could have the file locked, which is why you can’t make any changes to it.

Fixing “Destination Folder Access Denied”

You might see the more specific “destination folder access denied” issue pop up instead. In most cases, you can fix this using the same troubleshooting methods as above.

Despite the message, don’t look to fix just the destination folder. Check the permissions on the source folder, too.

Access Is Denied? We’ll See About That

We’ve taken a look at how to resolve folder and file “access denied” problems in Windows. Usually, this comes down to a simple permission fix. Make sure you have administrator rights, then you can try taking ownership and adjusting permissions as needed. Just avoid changing ownership of protected system folders, which could compromise your system security.

For more on Windows account management, see our guide to locking down Windows user accounts How to Lock Down Windows User Accounts Here's how to lock down user accounts in Windows 10, whether you want to secure your system or keep your kids safe. Read More .

Related topics: File System, Troubleshooting, User Account Control, Windows 10.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Roman Petruso
    December 9, 2019 at 12:35 am

    Very cooperative Article. This Is in point of fact Useful And kind Information. vuphespuzij7drl4ospo

  2. Gerard
    July 1, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    YES !!!

  3. Jerry Adelman
    June 12, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    I tried it. No success. I am running 1809 with the latest updates. I have let Microsoft Techs remote control the device with no success, 4 times now. The Case is still openOnly two directories are affected. All my files are synched on OneDrive. Still the same result. Is there something in the Registry to fix this? Any help would be appreciated. BTW, the problem started when I decided to use AutoSave to OneDrive in Word.

  4. Martin Benedek
    March 25, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Thank you very much it worked! I'm happy?

  5. Lau Russ
    March 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

    It seems to me that the last step in this process has been overlooked - at least for a Win 10 OS. 'Permissions' also have to set for the Owner.

    After you establish OWNERSHIP, close out of all the screens, then again open Security-Advanced to set PERMISSIONS for the Owner.

    In the "Permission Entries" box, the Owner's name/account will probably still NOT be shown. So you need to ADD the name. Click the ADD button below the "Permission Entries" box. On the next screen, click on "SELECT A PRINCIPAL". In the pop-out window, type your account name [such as Bob or Jane], then click CHECK NAMES and 'OK'. It will say something like MyComputer\Bob. Click 'OK'.

    The popup window disappears, and now you are on a screen which allows you to specifically set "BASIC PERMISSIONS" for the Owner (such as MyComputer\Bob). Click the box next to "FULL CONTROL" .

    That screen disappears and you are back to the "PERMISSION ENTRIES" screen that now shows that your Owner account has full permissions. At the bottom of that screen, click the box "replace all child entry permission entries ... ". Click 'OK'. The window closes with a message or two from Windows - and now you're set ! You have BOTH 'Ownership' and 'Full Permissions' on that file or folder.

    In the original 'Permissions' screen, after you have taken ownership, it usually shows that both Administrators and Users have full permissions. On the face of it, that would seem to enough. But to really work with the file/folder, in practice, it seems you need to expressly set FULL PERMISSIONS for the OWNER account.

    • Jim M
      September 11, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      I went through all the steps in this article and still couldn't get access. I almost didn't read the comments, but I'm very glad I did, because your suggestion to add full permissions as well as ownership fixed it. THANK YOU!

  6. marty
    January 20, 2019 at 6:21 am

    didn't work.
    I'm a window insider. Just changed my system to 64bit and now the 10T external harddrive cannot be accessed through win explorer . D:\ is not accessible, access denied. But I can use Glary disk explorer to access it ok, but that limits what I can do with the files and directories ????????

    Ver 1809 64bit

  7. Add
    October 25, 2018 at 9:25 am

    when I press change next to unable to display current owner it doesn't ask me for password and just says denied

  8. Megan
    August 7, 2018 at 3:07 am

    my problem was self inflicted I wanted to have only me be able to access one of my drives so i set it so only administrators could access the drive, which somehow made it impossible for me to access the drive too haha, i am the administrator though.

    i used this method to let my account access the drive and seems to be working. so thankyou. but i'm worried i wrecked something because the recycle bin got corrupted aaa and i'm worried that i'll have issues down the road because of my foolhardiness.

  9. Bernth
    July 27, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Thanks for the tips! But in the latest released Windows 10, Build (1803), it's not possible to get Administrator rights to some folders, no matter how many times you try to adding rights! It goes back to the status it had, before changing!
    So how it will be possible to delete a Folder, I really would like to know!
    This here, is more than frustrating, not to could have access to you'r own Computer!

  10. Andre
    July 25, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks a lot! this totally helped me!! I did a custom install of windows 10 in my laptop cos it crashed and when i went to windows old to access my google drive folder i could not enter, i got the access denied message. I was really confused because i had all my important files on it, like all my work!! Thank you very much for the help.

  11. Kleyton Soares
    June 13, 2018 at 8:21 am


    After following your step-by-step, on the 'Permissions' tab in 'Advanced Security Settings for ' window, I have the following message: 'You do not have permission to view or edit this object's permission settings'.

    What else could I do?

    June 6, 2018 at 8:49 am

    To leave this site without saying thank you for helping me recover very vital information would be so ungrateful of me. Thank you very much for your insights. I followed all the steps and recovered my data.

  13. Jim maier
    March 7, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    I tested your advise on a file within an external drive. The drive was removed from my XP desktop (hardware failure). Everything in that drive was noted as inaccessible through windows 10. Can this approach be used to access all files on the external drive without having to go though this for each individual file. As you can probably tell, I'm a novice. I stuck with XP because it worked well with SkechuUp. Sadly, Windows 10 not so much. Thanks

  14. Sandhiya
    January 23, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Hii I'm sandhiya:
    I'm using windows 8 on my laptop my local disk e can not be open while i can try to open the drive location is not available
    E:\is not accessible.
    Access is denied
    Is be shows in case I've been to open Disk e properties to change the security advanced to click mean's it's shows unable to display current owner to click the change
    You do not have permission to view this objects security properties, even as an administrativeuser to taking ownership of the object, which includes permission to view it's properties, click change above .
    It can be to show how can be to change?

  15. Tobias
    January 17, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Hello, i downloaded a program and every folder and file is like this. Do you have any idea how to do this to all folders and files at once, or in a faster manner than doing it over and over again?

    • Ben Stegner
      January 18, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Tobias -- can you try performing the above instructions on the root of your C: drive and apply them to all subfolders so you can change them all at once? Open a File Explorer window and browse to This PC, then right-click on your Windows drive (likely C:) and follow the instructions above.

      If this doesn't work, you may have downloaded a malicious program that locked you out of your files. It's worth running a scan with Malwarebytes to check if something's up.

  16. Lee
    January 12, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Your instructions were so much clearer than any others I've found. Worked all morning and failed until I found your article. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!

    • Ben Stegner
      January 12, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      I'm glad this helped you!

  17. Liam Brown
    January 5, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for this information :) But If the problem persists, try or install Long Path Tool program. It's effective and efficient to use. I hope this helps because it helped me a lot. My friends recommended it to me so I'm recommending it to people who faced the same problems as I did.

  18. Neil E Levin
    January 4, 2018 at 3:34 am

    This fixed my problem. I got a new computer and downloaded my Carbonite data, but some folders (My Photos, My Videos) wouldn't open. When I did the above Owner showed but there was a permission entry labeled Deny access to everyone. I was able to select and edit that, toggle from Deny to Allow, apply and voila! Thanks!!!

    • Ben Stegner
      January 4, 2018 at 3:25 pm

      I'm so glad this helped you!

  19. ScN
    December 30, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Sadly this fix failed to accomplish anything.
    Likewise various Regedits have had no effect.

    It would be nice if Microsoft would upgrade the filesystem.
    I've seen suggestions that a linux mount will fix things up.

  20. S
    December 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Thank you! It worked

  21. Circa
    November 29, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    This is the dumbest shit ever. Every day I go to use my new surface, I'm having to google how to use this retarded thing because of the limitations on everything.

    • Megan
      August 7, 2018 at 3:09 am

      yeah, i'm feeling the same with my new lovely computer
      it has windows 10 and everything is different and hard to access
      and it makes me mad a lot

  22. Dog
    November 29, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Thank you!

  23. Ati Moror
    November 23, 2017 at 7:05 am

    It worked according to the steps you gave.

  24. Annette
    November 15, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Fix worked thanks

  25. Eric G
    November 9, 2017 at 4:58 am

    Apparently I don't have permission to change ownerships

    • Lynard B
      December 9, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      You will not be able to change ownership if you are not logged onto the computer as an Administrator. You can set up a separate logon account as an Administrator or change your current account type to Administrator.

      • KV
        April 23, 2018 at 1:43 am

        There is only one login.. I'm having the same issue. When I tried to complete these steps, I was listed as the owner and didn't have permission to change it.

  26. Xene
    September 24, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    I only have one user account on my pc and it's an admin. I've been trying to delete an unimportant folder in a root gaming folder and it keeps telling me I need permission. Did this step by step and it still asks me for permission. Tried renaming the folder... and windows 10 shows how absolutely awesome it is by telling me that "The action can't be completed because the folder or file is open in another program." It's not open in another program, not even in the background.

    • Rafael Jeffery
      October 18, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      That's because there are empty folders in the folder. That happens to me a lot with Steam. I just go through each folder and manually delete each one.

  27. Sudhakaran T
    August 17, 2017 at 7:37 am

    This worked for me. Excellent! Thank you!

  28. C.Adams
    May 18, 2017 at 6:25 am

    This was not the issue for me. I eventually figured out that the files were encrypted before being copied from one computer (Win 7) to this one (Win 10). I had to go back to the source drive, un-encrypt the folders/files, and then copy them back over. To un-encrypt (in Win 7), I go to the folder's Properties, click Advanced button, and un-check "Encrypt contents to secure data". Then click OK and follow prompts to apply it to all sub-folders and files.

  29. Marie A. Inneo
    May 16, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    ARGH!!! I have followed the steps, but after I click Advanced, I am NOT taken to a window that says Owner anywhere. My tabs are for Permissions, Auditing, and Effective Access. I cannot change anything. I am extremely frustrated that I cannot delete a folder from my computer even WITH administrator rights. HELP!

  30. Bob
    May 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Does not work,it won't let me apply the changes.Then goes on to say something about error if you propogate changes ..bla bla bla.

    My problem "i think"has to do with OS/me /user is on C drive but folder/files are on D drive.

    So i tried this for the entire D drive and it won't let me.

    In the security field there is desktop ...../users and desktop/administrators but there is not my actual name which is adminstrators/Bob.

  31. cody winters
    April 18, 2017 at 1:50 am

    this worked well for me, i did have to restart a couple times while attempting the process as it was giving me access denied errors DURING the process. once it was complete however, a wide range of bizarre issues went away, thanks a ton.

  32. richard
    March 11, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    I think that I had to reboot the computer after making this change. So far, anyway, that is working (though saving is very slow, probably a problem independent of this change), whereas before rebooting and after changing ownership I was still getting "access denied" messages.

  33. Jamie West
    February 25, 2017 at 1:18 am

    When I click on the button to change the item's owner, it tells me I don't have permission to view or edit this object's permission settings.