This is a rare error but if you are here it means that the “rare” happened.

The full error message looks like this:

Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permission to access the item.

The thing with this error is that even if it happens like once a year for a user or even more, when it does happen, it is kind of tricky to troubleshoot as the cause can be one of many possible problems.

The best way to approach this is to take the most common possible cause which is what I will also cover in this article and if that is not the cause, go ahead and check the others which will take a lot more time and you won’t have any additional information to use like a log or an event log to help you further. The details provided by any of the below mentioned logs or event logs are minimal, and it will show you the message that you also knew, the error message, nothing more.

Sometimes, when you move/copy a file from a system to another, mostly when working with servers, the operating system will lock the file for security reasons embedded on Windows operating system.


Due to the fact that the file is coming from another system, Windows will block it according to GPOs and security features embedded. When you will select properties for the file with the error, you will see as details something like the following message, which is in fact a note: This file came from another computer and might be blocked to help protect this computer.

At this step, what you have to do is very simple. After you selected the file and opened the Properties for it that will display among the rest of the details the above bolded note, at the General TAB you will have a button called “Unblock”. Use it to unblock the file as you can see in the next picture, before and after the process.

Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file - Unblock

After you click it, it will look something like this:

Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file

Now, there is also the possibility that this wasn’t your case. By this, I mean the fact that there is no unblock button to click, no security note, nothing. In this case, you will have to check one of the following next possible issues:

1. If we are talking about a shortcut, make sure the file still exists. Right click it, select properties and check the TARGET path. Copy/paste it and try to access it via RUN menu or Windows Explorer (Browser). If it does exist, and you can see it, this is not the problem.

2. The file might be corrupted, try to obtain another copy from another source with the same file (computer, web, etc). If we are talking about a shortcut, try the file. If the file is Ok, re-create the shortcut.

3. Check if security software is blocking the opening of the file. Some event might have triggered a blocking protection or a rule that blocks the access of the file. Temporary disable every protection software you have on your computer with right click and exit, quit or temporary disable (for 5 minutes/10 minutes, as some software/antivirus have this feature). Check again if the problem persists.

4. Compatibility mode. Check to see if any computability option is set, disable it or select an operating system similar to yours or that runs on a similar engine. Right click it and navigate to Compatibility TAB. Select the Compatibility mode you seem fit and try again.

5. Security. On some operating systems like Windows 7 or Windows 8, sometimes even if you run it as an administrator, if the file doesn’t have explicit rights assigned to your username, or if your username is not at least added to a group that has specific access, it won’t work. Navigate to Security, check if your username is added to the list or at least a group that has your username. If not, use the ADD button to add your username (first letters like 3-4 should be enough, then use check and it will automatically select it), confirm with Ok. Mark/Select your username in the list and check what type of access it has. It should be at least, by default Read + Execute, and this is fine but you can also provide more, like for example Modify. Use the checkboxes to add more rights if needed, just mark them for Allow. After this, at least running as administrator should work, if that was the real problem…

6. Security on any operating system. Check as mentioned in step 5 if your username is added to security tab with the right access, which should be at least read and execute for the correct execution of most of the programs. If not, add it and try again. This applies to Windows Xp too.

If none of this works for you, then you can tell me along with a few details on your problem, like what are you trying to run, did it ever work, and so on, and I will deal with your particular case. This means your problem is not a common one, and it might need a different approach along with a further dedicated attention. It also depends on how much you need that specific software.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.2/5 (13 votes cast)
Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file, 4.2 out of 5 based on 13 ratings