The error message “Folder access was denied in Windows” can occur when you are trying to open, copy or view the contents in any given folder either on your PC or external drive. Windows has a built-in data-protection system that will decline access if the incorrect folder or administrative rights are not established.
You will usually receive this error if the incorrect file access permissions are set or if the data has become corrupt.
What Causes Folder Access Denied Error
When it comes to troubleshooting this error message, it is crucial that you become aware of the leading causes. Here is a short list of the most frequent causes of this disrupting error message:
- You are Not the Administrator: If you are trying to open a folder without being logged in as the administrator on that given PC, you might encounter issues when attempting to view or modify files.
- Your Files are Encrypted: Some files come with pre-set encryptions to prevent unregulated access. This is most common with files you access through a cloud, server or another download service.
- Changed File Permission: This is a common issue when files from a prior Windows version get copied to a new operating system.
How to Fix Folder Access Denied Error?
The primary fixes for this access related error message will change the permissions of the folder and files within. Here you will find the most effective ways to troubleshoot this issue.
Using the Group Policy Editor
These troubleshooting steps will edit the way Windows allows users to access folders and files as if they were the administrator.
Here is exactly how to do so:
- Press Windows Key + R to open Run
gpedit.mscand press Enter.
- Go up to the Computer Configuration tab on the left and click on Windows Settings
- Click on Security settings and then to Local Policies, drop the tab down with the arrow next to it and click on “Security Options.”
- Go all the way down with the scroll bar and find and click “User Account Control Admin Approval Mode for built-in administrator account.”
- If this is enabled, click on disable and then click on Apply and on OK.
- Repeat the same step for another policy called “User Account Control Run all Administrators in Admin approval”.
- Afterward, Restart your computer and see if the issues persist.
Grant File Access Permission on Your PC
This is the most surefire way to give permission to anyone on your computer to open, modify and delete data inside your folders. If you are the only person using your PC, this shouldn’t pose any further security concerns.
Be aware that once this option is configured, anyone that you choose to give permission to your PC will be able to open any given file on it.
- Press Windows Key + E to open File Explorer.
- Click on “This PC” on the left pane.
- Right-click on the primary hard drive – usually marked with the letter C and click on Properties
- Inside, click on the Security Tab and then click on the button that says “Edit.”
- Once you are in the Permissions Menu, click on the button that says “Add.”
- Afterwards, click on Advanced, and then click the button called “Find Now “on the right side of the menu.
- Scroll down in the menu box below until you find the item called “Everyone” and click it
- You will see another menu popup; simply click Ok.
- You will see another menu appear where there is a list of Permissions with tick boxes next to it.
- Check every single box that says “Allow” and then click on Apply.
- After this, you will see a Windows Security warning telling you that you are about to grant access to all of the files on this computer to any users.
- Click on Yes and press the “Continue” button until all boxes close.
Restart your PC when the process is complete to apply the changes and verify if the issue persists.
Take Ownership of the Folder With Restricted Access
The first and most straightforward fix will attempt to revoke any restricted access to the folder you are attempting to open.
Here are the steps to do so:
- Right-click on the folder with restricted access and click on Properties
- Click on the Security Tab and then click on Advanced.
- Click on “Change” and then enter the administrator password if prompted.
- Enter the name of the user you wish to grant ownership to, and then click on “Check Names.”
- Click on OK and then click on the checkbox “Replace Owner on Sub Containers and Objects” and apply the changes.
After these changes are applied, reopen the folder and see if the access error persists.
Check for Encrypted Files
If your file is previously encrypted, this will prevent you from accessing it in any way. Here are the steps to check if a file is encrypted:
- Open the Windows Start menu
- Type CMD in the search bar and open the app
cipher /u /n /hand press Enter
- This will show you all of the encrypted files on your PC
To remove encryption from files perform these steps:
- Right-click on the file and click on Properties
- Under the tab called General click Advanced
- Find and uncheck the box that says, Encrypted contents to secure data
- Choose to Apply changes to all folders, subfolders and files
After this, your folder should be accessible if it was encrypted.