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How to Fix USB Drive Access Denied in Windows?

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jan 27, 2024 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

Q: I have backup information stored on a USB flash drive, but yesterday I realized that Windows does not allow me to access the drive, is there any way to fix this problem?

"Access Denied" is an error that occurs when Windows is unable to access the contents of a storage drive and this can be due to various reasons. Fortunately, this error is often easy to fix. In this post, I will explain everything about this error in detail so that you can diagnose the origin of the problem and at the same time I will teach you how to solve it step by step.

Before Fixing USB Drive Access Denied in Windows:

The error "Location is not accessible, Access is denied" may appear when a storage device, external or not, has restricted read or write permissions. This may be the result of user configuration or it may also be caused by an error in the information that constitutes the file system of the unit, for this reason, the first step to solve this problem should be to identify the source of the problem.

To identify the source of the problem, you must follow some steps to be able to rule out possible problems one by one.

Part 2: What Are Factors of Pen Drive Not Accessible?

As I mentioned before, a Pen drive can be inaccessible for various reasons, and in order to identify the source of the problem, it is advisable to consider the following factors.

1. The pen drive is removed inappropriately: When a removable storage device is improperly removed, it can result in data loss or corruption because the operating system may have left the data reading or writing processes unfinished.

Digital information is made up of bits and these in turn are made up of binary numbers. It would be enough to omit or misspell a single digit for the integrity of the information to be corrupted. As you can imagine, this problem can not only affect the files stored inside a flash drive, but it can also damage the integrity of the device's file system and if this happens, all the information on the device would be inaccessible.

2. The USB power supply of pen drive is insufficient: For the same reason that I mentioned earlier, a flash drive can lose or corrupt its information if the power supply of the device is insufficient, this is because the processes of writing or reading data can be suddenly interrupted.

3. Access to the pen drive is restricted via Windows local group policy: Windows local group policy is a feature of the operating system that allows you to control certain parameters. There is a possibility that the write or read permissions of the flash drive have been restricted and this makes the device inaccessible. For this reason, it is important to grant read and write permissions to external devices through this utility.

4. The pen drive's file system is corrupted: As I mentioned earlier, file system data corruption can cause the device to be inaccessible. Earlier I talked about the possibility that this error is generated by a sudden disconnection and even by not having a sufficient power supply; however, it is important to remember that data corruption can also be generated by the intervention of a virus/malware. To determine if this is the case, it is advisable to carry out a scanning process with an antivirus or if you do not have one, you can use Windows defender to carry out this process.

5. The pen drive is conflicting with the certain application: Sometimes, applications installed on Windows may interfere with the operation of Windows, this may be because one or more applications have permissions to manage certain functions of the operating system and this, in turn, can trigger all kinds of problems. For example, there are applications that intend to customize, sort, filter, optimize space, encrypt or even add additional search functions for USB drives and if these applications fail due to an outdated or incompatible version, this could be the reason why the error "Access denied" appears.

Part 3: How to Fix USB Drive Access Denied in Windows 11/10/8/7?

Now that you know the possible causes of the problem, it is time to solve it. If you consider that you know the origin of the problem based on the information that I gave you previously, you can choose the specific method that is useful to you, however, if you have not yet managed to identify the cause of the problem, you can try the following methods one by one.

Method 1. Adjust Windows local group policy to access USB drive:

Sometimes, to avoid malware or virus attacks in work environments, the computers operating system may have been previously configured to deny the read or write permissions of external devices, if you consider that this may be the reason for the problem, you can change this setting through the "Local Group Policy Editor". Below I will show you how to do it.

Step 1: Open Local Group Policy Editor


To access this tool, right-click on the Windows icon, located at the left corner of the taskbar, then type "Local Group Policy Editor" and click on its shortcut or press the Wind + R keys, type "gpedit.msc" and press Enter.

Step 2: Expand Administrative Templates


Once you have opened the Local Group Policy Editor you will see three folders in each section. Within the "Computer Configuration" section, expand the "Administrative Templates" folder by clicking on the button next to the folder icon.

Step 3: Expand System folder


Once you have expanded the "Local Group Policy Editor" folder, you will see all the subfolders inside it. Now you should look for the "System" folder and expand it in the same way you did with the previous folder, by clicking on the button next to the folder icon

Step 4: Open Removable Storage Access folder


Inside the "System" folder you need to look for the "Removable Storage Access" folder and open it by clicking on the folder icon. This will display the contents of the folder on the right side of the window.

Step 5: Open "Removable Disks: "Deny read/write/execute"


Now you must find and open the file "Removable Disks: Deny read access" and tick the option "Disabled" to remove the restriction of reading data on external storage devices, although this may solve the problem, it is advisable to repeat this step with the files "Removable Disks: Deny write access" and "Removable Disks: Deny execute Access"

Method 2. Change drive letter to access USB drive:

If any application is interfering with the recognition of the device and you do not know which application may be causing this problem, you can easily solve the problem by changing the letter of the device since this way you will confuse the application that is interfering because the path of the device has changed. Below I will show you how to do it.

Step 1: Open Disk Management


Disk Management is a Windows tool that allows you to manage various parameters of the storage devices that are connected to your computer, this includes external devices. To open Disk Management you simply have to right-click on the Windows icon at the left corner of the taskbar and then click on the "Disk Management" option.

Step 2: Open the "Change Drive Letter and Paths" option


In Disk Management you will be able to see the storage devices listed according to the letter they have assigned in alphabetical order and you will also be able to see devices that do not have any letter assigned. Right-click on the device and select the "Change Drive Letter and Paths ..." option.

Step 3: Click on "Change..."


After clicking on the "Change Drive Letter and Paths ..." option a pop-up window will appear in which you must select the "Change ..." option in order to assign a different letter to the drive.

Step 4: Choose a different letter


Now all you have to do is select a different letter from the drop-down list that appears on the right side of the pop-up window and click on "OK."

Method 3. Run the disk checking to check and fix USB drive:

If the above methods failed to resolve the issue, it is likely due to the device file system being corrupted, as I mentioned above, this can happen for various reasons like improperly disconnecting the device, malware/virus attacks, sudden voltage variations or power outages.

The file system of a storage device is necessary for the operating system to be able to interpret the structure of a storage device and thus have access to the information of the device. Fortunately, Windows has a diagnostic and troubleshooting tool for these kinds of problems. This is "CHKDSK", to access this tool you must use Command Prompt in administrator mode. Through this command, Windows will thoroughly analyze the device to reconstruct the missing information and thus restore the operation of the device. Below I will show you how to use it.

Step 1: Open Command Prompt in administrator mode


Right-click on the Windows icon at the left corner of the taskbar and choose the "Command Prompt (Admin)" option. Once this is done, a pop-up window will appear in which you will have to confirm the process.

Step 2: Run a fixed process


Now, all you have to do is type the following command "chkdsk n: / f" (replace the letter "n" with the letter that your device has assigned) and press Enter. It will automatically begin an evaluation process with which Windows will be able to identify any damage to the device's file system and repair it.

Method 4. Recover data:

If with the help of chkdsk you did not manage to solve the problem, there is a possibility that Windows was unable to recognize the file system of the device or even the information may have been corrupted. Each operating system uses different file systems, and while compatibility between different operating systems is becoming more common, incompatibility of formats and file systems between operating systems remains a common problem.

The solution to this problem would be to use a computer with a compatible operating system to access the information from the USB, however, this may be an impractical solution for many users, and for this reason, the most effective and practical option is to use a data recovery software. In this way, you will be able to access the information of the device regardless of whether the error was caused due to the incompatibility of the device's file system or data corruption. Personally, I recommend Recoverit. This software is extremely easy to use. From the moment you install the software, it is able to automatically recognize the compatibility parameters of your operating system, therefore, when recovering information from a device, Recoverit will automatically perform the processes that are necessary for you to access the information with just a couple of clicks.

Below I will show you how to use it.

Step 1: Select the external device


To recover files from removable storage media, please select the device as the target location. And then hit on the "Start" button to move forward.

Step 2: Scan the external device


An all-around scan will be launched on the external storage media. Wait a few minutes to finish the scanning. During the process, you can locate the targeted files, as well as pause or stop it.

Step 3: Preview and recover files


Once the scanning ends, you can preview the files from the scanning result. To get the files back, click "Recover" and save them into another safe location.


As you may have noticed, in the vast majority of situations, the "Access Denied" error is very easy to solve, but if your case is more complex, you can simply choose to recover the information from the device with the help of Recoverit and if you consider it prudent. You can reformat the device to restore the information on it but this time you will be guaranteed compatibility with Windows operating systems.

Recoverit author

Theo Lucia

chief Editor

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