Windows cannot access the device, path, or file – 5 Solutions

Error message:

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

The error message mentioned above arises when attempting to access or open a file on your computer. Whether you double-click the file or attempt an alternative method, you encounter the message “Windows cannot access the file.” This article aims to provide you with comprehensive solutions to address these issues on your Windows 11/10/8/7 and Windows Server 2010/2013/2016/2019 systems.

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

Resolving the above issues requires implementing a series of troubleshooting steps on your computer. Carefully review and diligently apply the following comprehensive troubleshooting guide to address these concerns effectively.

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Method 2: Regain permission of affected files.

Reclaiming permissions for affected files is notably simplified in Windows 11. For Windows 11 users, the process involves a straightforward action. Simply press Shift + Right-click on the affected files and opt for the Take Ownership feature.

For the other versions of Windows OS, follow the steps to allow permissions.

Step 1: Right-click on files and select Properties. Go to Security tab and click on Edit button.

Step 2: Select your Username and allow full control. Click Apply and Ok to save settings.

Once you have granted full control of the affected files, attempt to access or open them. It’s highly likely that you will no longer encounter the “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file” error.

Method 3: Check if the file exists?

Ensure that you examine the file location to determine whether the file exists or not. Occasionally, factors such as renaming, uninstallation, or malware infections can render files inaccessible through the file explorer. If you encounter this error when clicking on file shortcuts, it’s advisable to verify the original location of the files.

Method 4: Decrypt the file.

Encountering the error message “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item” can occur if the file is encrypted. To resolve this, decrypt the file using the following steps:

Step 1: Right-click on the file and select Properties.

Step 2: Select the General Tab and click the Advanced button.

Step 3: Uncheck the option “Encrypt contents to secure data”.

Method 5: Disable Security Program Temporarily.

At times, the security program within the Windows system can pose challenges when attempting to access specific files, folders, or applications. A potential solution involves temporarily disabling the security program, which may effectively resolve the issue.

Disable Security Program - Step by Step

1: Disable Antivirus:

Sometimes, conflicts with third-party software, such as antivirus programs or firewalls, can interfere with the Windows Update process. Security software may block or disrupt the installation of updates, leading to the error code.

Step 1: Right click on the security program in the notification area.
Step 2: Select “Pause protection”.


2: Disable Windows Defender:

You can follow the steps to temporarily disable the Windows Defender.

Step 1: Click on the Start menu and search for the Windows security and open it.


Step 2: Click on the Virus & threat protection on the left side menu.


Step 3: Scroll down to find the Virus & threat protection settings and click on Manage settings


Step 4: Turn off Real-time protection.


Step 5: Scroll down to find Tamper protection and turn it off.


Note: You must turn on these services manually otherwise your device will be vulnerable.

Method 6: Run SFC and CHKDSK command line utility.

The occurrence of the “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file” error could also stem from disk errors or corruption within system files. To address this, you can rectify disk errors and system file corruption by utilizing the following command-line utility:

SFC and CHKDSK - Step by Step
Step 1: Open Command Prompt as Administrator.

open command prompt as administrator in Windows 8, 10 & 11

Step 2: Now run the following commands one by one.
i. System File Checker tool

sfc /scannow

ii. Run Disk checking utility.

chkdsk /f c:

It will show you message:

Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)

Press Y and Press Enter. The disk checking will start on next pc start.


If you encounter the “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item” error on your Windows 11/10/8 or Windows Server computer, simply adhere to the instructions outlined in this article. By doing so, you can effectively navigate through and address this issue.