1. Are You an Administrator?

In most cases, you need to be a PC administrator to change file / folder ownership. You can adjust the permissions of your directories, but you don’t have much control elsewhere.

This is to keep everyone’s files on the computer confidential. Only administrators can access files owned by other users. In addition, you must provide administrator rights to change system files, such as program file files and Windows folders.

If you have not yet obtained administrator rights in Windows, check out our guide. Suppose you are an administrator and move on.

2. Fix Access Denied Errors by Taking Ownership

When you see “Folder access denied”, the most common solution to try is to obtain ownership of the folder through File Explorer. This is how to do it.

First, right-click the problematic folder or file and select “Properties”. In the window that appears, switch to the Security tab. Then click the Advanced button to see more options.

How to Fix Windows 10 "Access Denied" Folder Errors

At the top of the next window, you will see a field called Owner. If you have problems, this may indicate that the current owner cannot be displayed. Click on the blue switch link next to it to fix it; Note that you must be an administrator to perform this action.

How to Fix Windows 10 "Access Denied" Folder Errors

You will now see a dialog box titled “Select User or Group“. In it, enter the account name of the new owner of the folder. It can be an account username or a group of users on your PC.

Group includes standard units, such as administrators (if you want all computer administrators to have it) or users (they all have it). In domestic use, it generally makes more sense to assign ownership to one person.

We assume you want to use your account to take ownership of the folder, so enter your username here. If you sign in to Windows 10 with a Microsoft account, your username is the first five letters of your email address.

When done, click on the name of the check to make sure it is correct. If so, it will automatically change to [PC name] [user name]. Click OK.

How to Fix Windows 10 "Access Denied" Folder Errors

Back in the advanced main window, you will see a box at the bottom to replace all sub-object permission entries… starting. If you want the changes to apply to all folders in the current folder (you can in most cases), check this box. Then click OK twice and you’re done.

Be Careful When Changing File Ownership Settings

When dealing with “Access Denied” errors, you should apply the above steps carefully. Avoid taking ownership of folders in system directories (such as Windows, Program Files, Program Data, or similar directories).

Doing so will weaken the security of the system, because ordinary accounts are not the owners of these directories. They contain important Windows folders that you should not touch.

You can still access most of these folders by navigating to them in File Explorer. You must confirm administrator permissions before you can view them without becoming the owner.

3. Review Folder Permissions

If taking ownership of a folder doesn’t work, or if you are an administrator trying to grant permissions to other people, you should check which users have what permissions on the corresponding folder.

Open the same security tab in folder properties as before. At the top, you will see a list of users and groups on the PC. Select an entry here and the bottom panel will display your permissions for the folder. Click the “Edit” button to change the permissions for each user as needed.

How to Fix Windows 10 "Access Denied" Folder Errors

Unsurprisingly, Full Control gives you full control over the folder and all of its contents. Reading is the most restrictive option because it only allows you to view the contents of the folder. See Microsoft’s page on file and folder permissions for a more detailed breakdown.

4. Double-Check Your Antivirus Settings

Sometimes your antivirus software can get overly enthusiastic, which will eventually affect your ability to access files. If you have confirmed that the above file permissions are normal, you may consider trying next.

Check your antivirus program settings for file protection or similar settings. Try disabling this feature and then try accessing the file again. If it doesn’t work, temporarily disable your antivirus software completely to see if it helps.

5. Check for File Encryption

Another reason you might see an “Access Denied” message is that the contents of the folder are encrypted. As you probably know, encryption protects files by only allowing viewing by those who have the key.

Related: How to Fix the ” Unknown USB Device Error “in Windows 10

You can encrypt the contents of a folder in Windows, although this feature is only available in the professional version. To do this, right-click on the folder and select “Properties”. In the window that appears, click the “Advanced” button under the “General” tab.

Here, check the box to encrypt the content to protect the data. With this, all the contents of the folder will be locked.

This type of encryption is transparent, which means that the owner will never notice the encryption. As long as they log into the system, they can access these files. But if you don’t have the certificate used to encrypt the folder, Windows will deny you access. The person who encrypts the file must unlock it.

This is not the only way to encrypt files in Windows 10, but it may cause the errors you see.

Other Potential “File Access Denied” Fixes

We have presented the most important solution to the “folder access denied” problem in Windows 10. You will see many suggestions for this problem on the web, but not all of them are good. Some of them revolve around obtaining administrator privileges, which we have already discussed.

Other suggestions may not apply in all situations, but if none of them work, they are worth trying.

A common strategy is to disable User Account Control (UAC). To do this, type UAC from the Start menu and select “Change User Account Control Settings.” Drag the slider all the way down and click OK.

Once you have done this, try the steps in n. 2 above again to take possession. When you’re done, make sure to reset the UAC settings to their original positions.

As another troubleshooting step, try starting your computer in safe mode and follow the steps to take ownership. This excludes any interference from third party programs.

Finally, make sure no one else is using the folder or file you want to access. Another process may have locked the file, so you cannot make changes to it. This is another problem that Safe Mode helps fix.

Fixing “Destination Folder Access Denied”

You may see a more specific “Access Denied Destination Folder” pop-up question. In most cases, you can use the same troubleshooting methods listed above to resolve this issue.

Despite the message, don’t just repair the destination folder. Also check the permissions of the source folder.

Access Is Denied? We’ll See About That

We studied how to troubleshoot “access denied” folders and files in Windows. Usually this boils down to a simple permissions fix. Make sure you have admin rights, then you can try to take ownership and adjust permissions as needed. Just avoid changing the ownership of protected system folders, which may compromise the security of the system.

Speaking of permissions, you should also know how to lock accounts in Windows so that they cannot access more permissions than necessary.