Access denied error: access restricted folders in Windows 10

If you are stuck in a situation where Windows is preventing you from accessing your own files, then I can help you change course. There can be various reasons why you are seeing the  access denied error  when trying to access or modify a folder. In this post I will try to list all the possible solutions to restricted access in Windows 10.

NOTE:  The following methods will only work if you have administrator rights to the PC. If you have a standard account, you should speak to your PC administrator, as standard accounts have limited access.

Solutions to access denied error in Windows 10

Method 1: Take ownership

Generally, this error arises when there is a conflict with the ownership of the folder. This happens after upgrading to a new version of Windows or messing with user control options. Fortunately, as an administrator, you shouldn’t have a problem becoming the owner again.

Right-click on the restricted folder and select  Properties. Now go to the Security tab   and click on the Advanced Options button  .

Here click the Change link  next to the Owner field .

Next, enter your username in the  Enter object name to select section  and click  Check Names.

If you entered the correct username, it should be applied automatically.

Now click  OK  and check the Replace owner subcontainers and objects option just below the Owner option. This will apply permissions to all folders and subfolders.

This should solve your access denied problem and allow you to access the folder and its contents. If you don’t want to go through the above process or it somehow didn’t work for you, then a third-party tool can make it easier.

Take Ownership  is a useful tool that will add an entry to the context menu for easy ownership. After installing the tool, right-click on the folder and select  Take Ownership  from the context menu to become the owner.

Method 2: Use hidden administrator account

In addition to the usual administrator account, there is another hidden administrator account that is much more powerful  and has access to most areas of Windows. If you cannot access the folder due to a privilege issue, this elevated administrator account should be able to open it.

NOTE:  Using an elevated admin account on a regular basis is not recommended as it gives you access to areas that you shouldn’t be loitering (the reason why it’s hidden). When you are done using it, you should deactivate it.

When you are able to access the restricted folder with this account, make sure to move its contents to a different place where the normal administrator account will work.

METHOD 3: Check if it is encrypted

There is a possibility that the folder is encrypted or encrypted, which is why you are getting the  Access Denied error. Here’s how to check if this is the reason:

Right-click on the folder and select  Properties  from the context menu. Here on the General tab  , click on the Advanced Options button  .

If the Encrypt content to protect data option   is checked, it means that the data is encrypted and you will need to decrypt it using the correct certificates.

You should contact the user who encrypted this folder and request that they decrypt it from their account.

Method 4: Use the Unlocker Tool

Unlocker  is a handy folder unlocking tool that will help you solve many folder access problems with just one click. Just install the tool and it will add an entry in the context menu. Right click on the restricted folder and select  Unlock.

The tool will scan the folder and show what is preventing you from accessing the folder. Just click on  Unlock all and Unlocker will automatically fix all the problems.

Method 5: access from safe mode

There is also the possibility that a third-party application or a virus could prevent access to the folder.

You should start the PC in Safe Mode and then try to access the folder. In Windows 8 and 10, you can access Safe Mode from the startup options. In Windows 7 you can press the F8 key several times while the PC is starting to start up.

Safe mode starts the PC with limited drivers and no third-party applications, so no application or virus should prevent you from accessing the folder. If you can get in safe mode, try removing recently installed apps. In this case, you should scan your PC for viruses with good antivirus software, such as  avast.. It is also recommended to add an online scan using a service such as ESET Online Scanner.

Method 6: Try another user account

There is a possibility that your user profile will get corrupted and Windows cannot open files / folders in it. Try accessing the data from another user account to confirm this.

In case you don’t have another user account, you can easily create one.


Access denied generally occurs when you have limited authority or the folder is out of reach for your user. Taking ownership of the folder or using the hidden administrator account should solve this problem.

But there are many other types of system and application based errors that can prevent modifying the folder. Fortunately the Unlocker utility should be able to take care of them automatically.

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