Fix: Windows Cannot Access the Specified Device, Path or File Error

Jean updated on Feb 22, 2020 to Data Recovery | How-to Articles


Receiving 'Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file. You don't have the appropriate permission to access the item' error while trying to start a program or open a Word file. Don't worry about being unable to access your important files, EaseUS data recovery software can help find files which were even removed, deleted, hidden, transferred, etc.

We have provided you with four effective solutions to solve Windows cannot access the specified device path or file error.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Gain File Permission Right-click the file or folder and select "Properties". Under Group or User names...Full steps
Fix 2. Check the File Location Right-click on the file or folder and select Properties. Under the General tab...Full steps
Fix 3. Unlock the File/Folder Right-click the blocked file and then select "Properties". Select "Unblock"...Full steps
Fix 4. Recover Lost Files Choose the file location to scan. Let the software scan the lost files...Full steps

Error Details

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

Windows cannot access the specified device , path or file

You may receive the exact error while you are trying to start a program or open a file on your Windows computer. Apparently, simply gaining the required permission doesn't solve the error effectively, that's why so many people are posting the same question and asking further help from Microsoft support and some prevailing forums.

So, what are the possible reasons that make Windows fail to access the specified device, path or file as normal? What's the reason that you don't currently have permission to access the folder? What sensible suggestions should you follow to make sure that you don't necessarily lose programs and files?

Now, read on the causes and the solutions. Then solve this error without losing access to important data files on a specified device.

Four Causes for "Windows cannot access the specified device path or file" Error

As long as you see the message "Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item", you must think of the four reasons below:

  • You don't have permission to the file or file location.
  • File location\path isn't accessible or even doesn't exist.
  • Antivirus software prevents files from opening.
  • The file has been deleted, removed, transferred or hidden by the virus.

Method 1: Gain the Permission of the File or Folder

Now that the error suggests that "you may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item", you should first check if you have the permission of the file or folder. To gain permission to access a file or a location, do as follows.

Step 1: Right-click the file or folder and select "Properties".

Step 2: Under Group or User names, click your name to see the permissions you have.

Step 3: Select "Edit", where you can have permissions like full control, modify, read & execute, read, write or special permissions. Choose the permissions you need and click "OK".

gain the permission of the folder or file

Method 2: Check the File Location

You may also get this error if the shortcut or installation is attempting to access a location that is not currently available such as a networked or a removable drive. Check the path of the file and make sure that the location is accessible.

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

Step 2: Under the General tab, check the location, make sure that the file path is correct and accessible.

check the file location

Method 3: Disable Antivirus and Unlock the File/Folder

What antivirus software are you using? You can check to see if your antivirus software is blocking a file by temporarily disabling it, and then trying to open the file. Then unlock the file. In some cases, the file may be blocked by Windows. You can check the properties of a file to see if it is blocked. 

  • Right-click the blocked file and then select "Properties".
  • In the General tab, select "Unblock" if the option is available.

Method 4: Recover the Deleted/Removed/Corrupted File

If the 'Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file' error was caused by an unknown deletion, corruption, feel free to download EaseUS data recovery software to bring lost data back. This powerful data recovery software can not only recover files but also recover photos, pictures, images, audios, and videos from HDD, USB or external hard drive. If your inaccessible files or folders are on a removable hard drive or flash disk, connect it to a Windows PC where EaseUS hard drive recovery software installed. Make sure the software has detected your device.

Now, follow the steps to recover files that Windows cannot access normally.

Step 1. Choose the file location to scan.

Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your computer. Choose the drive where you lost files and click "Scan". If you lost files were on an external storage device, connect it to your computer firstly.

select the file location and click scan

Step 2. Scan the lost files.

The software will start immediately a quick scan for deleted files, and later a deep scan will launch to scan more lost files all over the selected drive. After the scan, you can use the Filter to quickly filter a specific file type.

scan the lost files

Step 3. Preview and restore files.

Double-click on a file allows for a full preview. Finally, select the desired files, click "Recover" and browse a location to save all the files at once.

recover lost files

All the provided fixes and file recovery solution aims to resolve 'Windows cannot access the specified device, path, and file' error, which might occur on desktop contents, explorer.exe, and other locations when opening a file, trying to install, update or start a program.

People Also Ask Related Questions (FAQ)

1. How do I fix Windows cannot access the specified device path or file?

  • Gain the permission of the file or folder
  • Check the file location
  • Disable antivirus and unlock the file/folder
  • Recover the deleted/removed/corrupted file

2. How do I fix you do not have permission to access?

  • Change the owner.
  • Change security permissions with Command Prompt. 

3. How do I get full permission on Windows 10?

  • Open File Explorer. Browse and find the file or folder you want to have full access to.
  • Right-click it, and select "Properties".
  • Click the "Security" tab to access the NTFS permissions.
  • Click the "Advanced" button. On the Select User or Group page, click "Find Now".
  • Then select your user account and click "OK". On the Select User or Group page, click "OK".
  • Click "Apply", then click "OK".

4. How do I fix access denied folder in Windows 10?

  • Take ownership of the file or folder.
  • Get proper permissions.
  • Recover lost data.

100% of people found this article helpful.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

About Data Recovery Wizard

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.