Fixing “Access is denied” on a foreign drive

If you have an old drive you’re trying to use in a new computer, you might get an “Access is denied” error. The reason might be that the users on the old disk might be unrecognized by the current computer. (There are other reasons, eg, the file might have permissions set to disallow access. Also the file might be in use, in which case see “Unlocker” as described in Best Free Undeletable File Remover at But if not, read on:)

Say you’re trying to access folder “Pete” in the “F:” drive (an external drive, say, from an old computer).


You might get an “Access is denied” error:


To fix it right click on the folder you want to access, and click “Properties”:

The “Security” tab might be missing:


If the “Security” tab is missing, there’s an intermediate step. Click Tools -> Folder Options :


In the “Folder Options”, click the “View” tab:


In the View tab, UNCHECK “Use simple file sharing (Recommended)”.  It may be “Recommended” but is it nevertheless sometimes not ideal.


Click “OK”.

Back to the folder you want to access (in the example “Pete”). Right click and select “Properties”:

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Now there should be a “Security” tab:


Click on the “Security” tab.

Note the Group or user names. If this is your problem, some will be missing, and some might be unrecognized or look strange. That “S-1-5-…” is a user from another PC (most likely the pc the drive came out of).  We want to add some here. Click “Add”:

In the text box, add the user that needs access. On most Windows XP computers, it is sufficient to add “Administrators”. It is a user Group. Or, you might want to add your username on this computer. Or another user’s username. Click “Check Names”:


If there’s no typo, Windows should change your text into a recognized username. In the example “PETE\Administrators”. In this case “PETE” is the computer name (happens to be the same as the user name and folder name in this example):


Click OK to get back to the Properties dialog box. Now the new username should be shown. Now look at the lower half, the Permissions. Some in the “Allow” column might be un-check’ed:


If so, click the check box for “Full Control” to enable all permissions:


Click ‘OK’ to return to the list of files.

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Now double-click on “Pete” and you will have access! 😀



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