The ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file’ error usually pops up when you open a file or program. These errors can stop you from opening important files, running apps, or accessing critical resources, causing unnecessary delays. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to fix this annoying error message.
Such errors can arise because of various reasons – ranging from a lack of necessary permissions to a strict antivirus program. We have listed all the possible solutions to fix the ‘Windows cannot acces the specific device path or file’ error on your Windows 10 or 11 PC.
1. Unblock the File
Windows may sometimes block a file if you have obtained it from another computer. If that’s the case, you will need to unblock the file before you can open it. Here’s how to do that.
Step 1: Right-click on the problematic file and select Properties.
Step 2: Under the General tab, tick the Unblock option. Then, hit Apply followed by OK.
2. Check the File Location
Another reason why you may receive the ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file’ error is if the file or shortcut you are trying to access is not available at the specified location. This usually happens when you try to open a shortcut acquired from a removable disk or network location that is no longer accessible.
You need to check the path of the file or program that fails to open and ensure the location is accessible.
Step 1: Right-click on the file or program shortcut giving you the error and select Properties.
Step 2: In the Target field, check the location of the file. If the specified path refers to a removable or network drive that is not currently connected, you will need to connect it to resolve the error.
3. Modify File Permissions
A lack of relevant permission to access a file could result in the ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file’ error. To fix this, obtain full control over the file or folder.
Step 1: Right-click on the file or folder you want to access and select Properties.
Step 2: Under the Security tab, select your account from the ‘Group or user names’ section. Then, click the Edit button.
Step 3: Tick the Allow checkbox next to Full control. Then, hit Apply, followed by OK.
After you complete the above steps, you can open the file or folder without any errors.
4. Recreate the App or Program Shortcut
Are you seeing this error while opening an app or program shortcut? That could be because you have moved the source app or program to a different location, and the system cannot find the specified path. To fix this, you will need to delete and create the app or program shortcut again.
Step 1: Right-click anywhere on the empty space on the desktop, go to New, and select Shortcut.
Step 2: In the Create Shortcut wizard, click the Browse button to locate the app or program you want to add as a desktop shortcut. Then, click Next.
Step 3: Enter a suitable name for the shortcut and click Finish.
5. Add the Affected Software or File to the Exclusion List in Microsoft Defender
If you still can’t access your file, folder, or program, Microsoft Defender may be blocking it. You can try excluding the problematic file, folder, or program from the Microsoft Defender scan to avoid the error message. However, you should only do this if you are sure that the file or software is legitimate and safe.
Step 1: Click the search icon on the taskbar, type in Windows Security, and press Enter.
Step 2: In the ‘Virus & threat protection settings’ tab, click on Manage settings.
Step 3: Scroll down to Exclusions and click on ‘Add or remove exclusions.’
Step 4: Click the Add an exclusion button and select your preferred option.
Step 5: Locate and select the file or program you want to exclude and click the Open button.
After you complete the above steps, you should not get the ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file’ error.
6. Temporarily Disable Your Third-Party Antivirus Program
A third-party antivirus program on your PC could block your access to certain files or programs on Windows. If you have tried everything else and still have problems, you can temporarily disable your antivirus program and try again. If this solves the error, you will need to access your antivirus program and whitelist your app or file to avoid any problems in the future.
There’s nothing quite as annoying as not being able to access an important file or program. Hopefully, that’s no longer the case, and one of the above tips has helped resolve the ‘Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file’ error on your Windows 10 or 11 PC.
Last updated on 05 September, 2023
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