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Access Denied Error on Windows 10 – SOLVED – 6 Quick Solutions

Operating systems throw errors whenever they encounter issues that require your attention. Usually, the messages are accompanied by an error code, which you can easily look up online to find answers.

However, if you stumbled upon the Access Denied error on Windows 10, you probably tried to open files or folders, or to launch apps.

Access Denied Windows 10

Perhaps you’ve also noticed that there’s no error code displayed, making it a bit more challenging to identify an appropriate solution. But we’re here to help you get rid of the Access Denied error message using ownership, permission, encryption, or administrator settings.

Before getting started, we strongly advise you to create a system restore point. This way, you can revert Windows to a safe state in case you mess anything up.

How to fix the Access Denied error on Windows 10?

1. Log in as the administrator

Windows 10 shows how to run an app with administrator rights

If you have multiple user profiles set up on your computer, make sure you’re not logged in as a guest when attempting to open files or applications. Instead, log out and log back in as the administrator.

Alternatively, you can execute a process by running it with elevation rights, assuming that you know the admin login credentials.

2. Take ownership

If you could previously open a particular file or folder but can’t anymore, it might be because you lost ownership of that particular file.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Right-click the folder and go to PropertiesWindows 10 shows how to access Properties from the right-click menu of a folder
  2. Open the Security tab and click AdvancedWindows 10 shows how to access the advanced security properties of a folder
  3. Click ChangeWindows 10 shows how to change the owner of a folder
  4. Write Administrator in the empty box, click Check Names, and press OK to confirm. You can also write your user account instead of AdministratorWindows 10 shows how to select the user or group of a folder
  5. Enable Replace owner on subcontainers and objects, then click ApplyWindows 10 shows how to replace the owner on all subcontainers and objects of a folder

If you’re still encountering the Access Denied error on Windows 10 after following the steps above, return to the Advanced Security Settings window and enable Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object.

Windows 10 shows how to replace all child object permissions entries with inheritable permission entries from the current object

In case you took ownership using any other account besides Administrator, you might have to add permissions to your account the manual way. To do this, go back to Advanced Security Settings.

1. If your account isn’t listed there, click AddWindows 10 shows how to add a new account to manage folder permissions
2. Click Select a principalWindows 10 shows how to select a principal for folder permissions
3. Write your account name, click Check names, then click OKWindows 10 shows how to select the user or group of a folder
4. Set Type to Allow and Applies to to This folder, subfolders, and files. Under Basic permissions, enable Full control. Click OK.Windows 10 shows how to manage folder permission settings

You can also take ownership of a file using CMD with admin rights:  takeown /f <filename>

Make sure to replace <filename> with the full system path to the file of which you want to take ownership (without the < > symbols). If the command is successful, you should receive a message saying SUCCESS: The file (or folder): “filename” now owned by user “Computer Name\Username”.

Windows 10 shows how to use the takeown command in CMD

To take ownership of a folder through Command Prompt with elevated rights: takeown /f <foldername> /r /d y

  • <foldername> – the full system path to the target directory
  • /r (optional) – include all files and subfolders in the ownership takeover
  • /d y – take ownership of subfolders where you don’t have List Folder permissions

3. Check for content encryption

If you keep receiving the Access Denied error on Windows 10 when trying to open a folder, it might have something to do with content encryption.

Here’s how to verify this:

  1. Right-click the folder and open PropertiesWindows 10 shows how to access Properties from the right-click menu of a folder
  2. In the General tab, click AdvancedWindows 10 shows how to access the advanced general settings of a folder
  3. Check the status of Encrypt contents to secure dataWindows 10 shows how to check the encryption status of a folder

If the option is enabled, you must have the certificate that was initially used for content encryption to be able to open it. You can also decrypt the folder using that certificate so that you won’t have to worry about it the next time to attempt to open the folder.

4. Check for file corruption

Certain files may become corrupt if they were opened when your operating system crashed or during a power outage. File corruption is one of the reasons why you might receive the Access Denied message on Windows 10.

It’s usually impossible to repair corrupt system files, so your best bet is to restore a backup or revert Windows to a previous system restore point, prior to the corruption.

You could also run System File Checker to try and fix the corrupt files. However, keep in mind that it only works with system files.

  1. Run Command Prompt as admin
  2. Type sfc /scannowWindows shows how to run the sfc scannow command in CMD
  3. Wait until the scan is complete
  4. Exit CMD and reboot your PC

5. Sign in or create a new local user account

Windows 10 allows you to log in with a local or Microsoft account. However, it sometimes has trouble with Microsoft accounts, which can only be fixed by switching to a local account.

Otherwise, if your local user profile is corrupt, you will receive the Access Denied error on Windows 10 no matter what you try, preventing you from accessing files, folders, and applications.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select SettingsWindows 10 shows how to access settings from the Start right-click menu
  2. Select Accounts Windows 10 shows how to access Accounts settings
  3. Click Sign in with a local accountWindows 10 shows how to sign in with a local account instead of a Microsoft account
  4. Confirm your identity and set up the new local account credentialsWindows 10 shows how to enter local account information
  5. Sign out and sign back in using the new account

6. Recover files from the Windows.old folder

If you recently upgraded to Windows 10 from an older edition, or if you installed two or more operating systems on your computer, you might see the Access Denied error because the files you’re trying to access are stuck in the Windows.old folder.

Windows 10 shows the Windows.old folder

In this case, all you have to do is recover files from Windows.old, assuming that you didn’t get a chance to format the disk.

Just find the Windows.old folder on your computer, open it using your file browser, and look for your file there. It’s easier than restoring files from backups.


To sum up, you can fix the Access Denied error on Windows 10 by making some system changes involving administrator rights, user permissions, file corruption, and content encryption.

Did the solutions above work for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

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