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Error Overview – Windows Can’t Access Specified Device Path or File

If you are a Windows 10 user, you may have encountered this problem sometimes in your life. Often the device sometimes displays some errors, seemingly from nowhere. Among these, the most common is the error of being unable to access any specific device or file.

You are trying to find a specific file (doc, pdf, image, etc.) or folder and search for it. But, your device displays the message “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file” even if you try to delete, modify, or open a particular file.

This problem can happen for specific files or file paths as well. But, it causes some problems while you intend to work on that particular file.

But fortunately, there are some ways or hacks to counter this problem. Read on to know how to know more.

What Results in the “Windows can’t Access Specified Device Path or File” Error?

There can be different causes for the error “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file”. Our experts have listed the possible errors here-

  • The file does not exist, or its location is not accessible

You probably are trying to find the file you have long deleted or moved somewhere else. If the file does not exist or its file path has changed, you will get this error message.

In some cases, the corrupted files get deleted or modified, and when you try to find those files again, this error happens.

  • The antivirus is the main culprit

Often the leading cause behind such problems is the antivirus. An antivirus can identify some files as threats and may try to block you from accessing them. In such cases, this message is displayed.

  • You do not have the needed permission to access the file

Some files require specific permission to access them. If you do not have the needed permission, this error happens while you try to access the files.

  • The file is in a non-accessible external location

You may have relocated and moved the file to an external location, i.e., a pen drive or a hard disk that is not accessible.

But, other errors can also cause these similar problems. Here are some of the solutions to counter this error-

How to Rectify “Windows Cannot Access the Specified Device Path or File.”

Fix 1. Get Permission of File or Folder

The first thing you need to try is to get the proper permission to access the intended file or folder. If you are unsure about this permission status, you can check it by following this procedure-

  • First, right-click on the file.
  • Next, from the drop-down menu, select “Properties.”A new dialogue box will appear on your
  • Open the “Security” tab, third from the left.
  • Under the “Group or user names“, select your name. Make sure you have admin rights to perform this task.
  • Now, click “Edit.”
  • After this, check beside “Allow Full control” to have all the needed permission to access the file in the future. Alternatively, you can check all the needed permission commands separately
  • Now, click “OK” to save the changes.

Fix 2. Ensure That File Is in Right Location

If you have the proper permission but still getting the message “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file”, try checking the file location once.

Often the errors happen if the file location is changed and you are trying to open the file using its older file path, which is no longer functional. Here is the step-by-step guide to checking the file path-

  • Right-click on the intended folder or file.
  • Next, select “Properties”. A pop-up box will appear on your screen.
  • Now, check for its location path under the “General” tab. Follow this path to access the file. If you are unable to access it, probably its location has changed.

Fix 3. Unblock the File

Windows can mistake identifying a file or app, or folder. If it cannot identify it correctly, it will consider the file a threat and block you from accessing them. In such circumstances, you will have to unlock the file manually by using these steps-

  • First, right-click on the file, causing that error.
  • From the drop-down menu, select “Properties”. Wait for a new dialogue box to open.
  • In this box, open the “General” tab. Here, look for the “Unblock” option. Check beside this option.
  • Now, select “Apply”.
  • Finally, click “OK” to unblock the needed file.

Fix 4. Disable Your Antivirus Software

The antivirus is often the main reason you get the message  “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file”. The antivirus may deem any file a threat and deny you access to it. The best part is to disable the antivirus you are using.

For this, follow these instructions-

  • First, press the Ctrl key shift key and Esc key together to open the Task Manager.
  • From here, go to “Startup.”
  • Here select “antivirus
  • After this, press the “Disable” button. You can find this button at the bottom right of the dialogue
  • After this, close the window.
  • Now, restart the PC and again try to access the file.

If the problem is solved, you need to whitelist the file from the antivirus-

  • First, open the “search bar” and search for “Windows Security”. After you find the app, launch it. A new screen will open on your device.
  • Now, visit “Virus & threat protection.
  • From here, select “Manage settings” under this tab.
  • After this, scroll down to find “Exclusions.”
  • Under this tab, select “Add or remove exclusions”. Make sure you have admin rights to perform this action.
  • Here, press “Add an exclusion”. You can select the files or folders to exclude
  • Now, select the file and hit Open.

But, do not use the device without any antivirus as this can cause serious security issues for your device. If whitelisting doesn’t help, you can change the antivirus you use.

Fix 5. Recreate A Shortcut to File

Windows do not update the shortcut path’s location when it undergoes a change. Hence, you may get the error message when accessing any file through its shortcut. For this, recreating a new shortcut often solves the problem-

  • First, right-click on any empty space left on your desktop screen. A drop-down small menu box will appear.
  • Next, from the drop-down menu, choose “New“. Under this tab, select “Shortcut“.
  • A new screen will appear. Here, click on “Browse” to select the file or app you need for creating a shortcut.
  • Now click “Next.” A new pop-up box will appear.
  • Enter the name of the shortcut you intend to use in the box.
  • Finally, click “Finish”.

Try opening the file from this new shortcut. If it does not open, move to the following methods to access that.

Fix 6. Recover File That Has Been Deleted or Removed, or Corrupted

You are trying to access if you have deleted or removed the file. It is time to recover it.

If you have recently deleted the file or folder, it is probably lying in the “Bin” app.”

  • Open the “Bin” app and search for the file.
  • After you have found it, right-click on it.
  • Select “Restore” to restore it to its previous location.

If you have deleted or removed the file long ago, you need to use data recovery software to recover it. You can download and launch the data recovery file. Follow the instructions to restore the intended folder or file in its previous location. Ensure you have a backup of the files to recover them.

Fix 7. Enable Hidden Admin Account

Many experts reckoned to enable a hidden administrator account to fix the error “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file ”. This allows you to open your hidden administrator account to enable the administrator right to access any file you want.

Here is the step-by-step guide-

  • First, enable the safe mode of your PC.
  • Now, launch the command prompt.
  • Type” net user administrator /active:yes” in the box.
  • Now, press “Enter”. This will enable the hidden administrator
  • Again, restart the PC in safe mode.
  • After this, close the hidden administrator account to access the PC.
  • From here, open the Control
  • Now, select “Set to view by small icon“. This will allow you to find your user account easily.
  • After you find the User Account tab, click on it.
  • Here, choose the “Manage Another Account” option.
  • Now, from the available options, select “Your Account”.
  • From here, select “Change Account Type”.
  • Under this tab, select “Administrator” and then select “Change Account Type”.
  • Exit from the control panel and restart the PC. Open and try to access the intended file again.

Fix 8: Temporarily turn off all third-party antivirus

In case the problem persists, try to check the status of the third-[arty antivirus you use. Often disabling such antivirus software helps you to access the intense file easily.

Temporarily disable the antivirus as long you are working with that particular file. Again enable the antivirus after finishing your work.


Different underlying causes can result in the error “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file”. In such cases, you may need to use the tricks mentioned above to access the file or folder.

Try each method and check which one helps to solve the problem. Before that, make sure to take a backup of all stored data. You can use backup software or an external storage device to backup everything.

On top of that, make a habit of taking a backup of all the essential files and folders for emergencies.

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