How to Fix an Access Denied Error
The purpose of this guide is to teach you how to get access to files that you’ve been denied access to.
XP is full of security features that prevent this from happening. If you're using the NTFS file system, this complicates matters even further.
But, have no fear! I've been through this myself and am fairly conversant with what is required to do this. But, the first question that I've got to ask is...did you make your files and folders private and/or use the EFS option (Encrypted File System) on the account. And, if so, do you have the copy of the key that it asked you to save to a disk when you did it? If not, then your problem is beyond the scope of this guide. The answers to these questions will affect the approach that we take. Also, what file system do you use on your hard drive - FAT32 or NTFS? NTFS is the default that the computer is setup with.
There are 3 ways to do this. Here they are:
- Boot from a DOS floppy, and then use a free NTFS to DOS reader to copy the files to a FAT32 formatted disk. This will strip the permissions from the files and you'll be able to access them.
The biggest drawback to this method is having a disk (formatted in FAT32) that can hold all of the information. This can be accomplished by partitioning your hard drive with a FAT32 partition, or using an external hard drive that's formatted to FAT32.
- Use a "live" Linux distribution to copy the files into the Linux OS. This will strip the permissions from them also. I'm not familiar with this method, although it has been recommended by a lot of my colleagues.
- For simple access problems, the easiest route to take is to take ownership of the files in question. You must be using an account with administrator privileges to do this! To do it, right click on the file/folder that you want to access - and select the "Sharing and Security" menu option. If there is no option for security in this, or the next tab - stop what you're doing and boot your system into Safe Mode (by pressing F8 the moment that Windows starts to load) - then follow these directions there (this has to do with how file sharing is setup on your system).
Once you're in the Security tab for the file/folder that you'd like to take ownership of, scroll down the list until you find the name of the account that you're currently using. Click on it once to highlight it, and then click on the "Advanced" button that's below the list of permissions.
Then, click on the "Owner" tab, click on the name of the account that you're currently in. Then ensure that the box labeled "Replace owner on sub-containers and objects" is checked. Then click on Apply, and then OK. You've now taken ownership of this file/folder and anything below it in the directory structure.
FWIW - here's some of the links that I used while troubleshooting this problem for myself:
Good luck with this, it can be very frustrating!