5 Fixes: Windows Cannot Access The Specified Device, Path, or File Error

Microsoft has made significant changes in Windows 10 to fix the bugs and issues of the previous versions. However, there are still several bugs, and error messages users have to encounter while using Windows 10 regularly.

One such issue is “Windows cannot access the specified device, device path, file”. Users encounter this error message while opening an application or file from the hard drive.

If you are facing this same error on your computer and looking for a solution to this annoying application and file error, you are at the right place.

We will look at the possible causes behind the occurrence of this device path and file location error message. We will also illustrate different methods to resolve the issue on Windows 10.

What causes the “Windows cannot access the specified device, device path or file location” error?

Every Windows error is likely to have multiple possibilities as far as its cause is concerned. As a user, you have to know all the different causes that can cause a specific error so that you can find out which one is responsible in your case. Accordingly, you can take steps to find the error solution and fix the issue properly.

Permission – You might not have the necessary permission to access the file or application you are trying to open. This is applicable when you are not opening the file as the admin or when the file has been created by another user, and he has given you permission to open and modify the file.

File Location – The file you are trying to open may not exist anymore on the file location. This is likely to happen when you try to open it indirectly through shortcuts, from the Recent folder, or through any application.

Malware – If your hard drive gets infected by malware, access to certain files can be blocked. In fact, some files can be misplaced from their original file locations. Malware infection leads to modifications in system settings and corruption methods and processes that eventually lead to errors during user interaction.

Antivirus Software Antivirus software brings about changes in system settings and revokes access permissions for user names except for the admin for privacy and security concerns. Therefore, they can interfere with your interaction with the system such as accessing any file or application and the system can show you the respective error message.

Moreover, if you are accessing any file from an external device and the device is not connected properly to your computer, you can get an error message.

All these are the common causes of the “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, file” issue. Apart from these, the issues could be happening for a different cause entirely. Whatever the cause may be, you have to take the resolution steps one by one to fix the issue.

How to fix “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file”?

Now that you have some ideas about what could be causing this specific error message on your hard drive, it is time to fix the issue. For every cause, there is a specific solution.

You have to try out these solutions one by one so that you can access the desired file or application without seeing the error message “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file”.

Here are all the possible methods to fix the “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file” issue.

Solutions to fix “Windows cannot access the specified device path or file”

  1. Modify the file permission
  2. Check the file location
  3. Recreate the file shortcut
  4. Unblock the blocked file
  5. Disable Antivirus software

Method 1: Modify the file permission

We have already stated that if you do not have permission to access a file or folder, you will see the error message. When there are multiple users on a computer, the admin can set access permissions for certain user names only, which may not include your username.

If you are using a shared computer or a public computer, you have to ask the administrator to grant you permission to access the concerned file. However, if you are using a personal computer, here are the steps to fix the permission issue.

Step 1: Go to the file or folder that is causing the issue.

Step 2: Right-click on the file or folder and click on the Properties option from the menu.

Windows cannot access the specified device, device path or file location - Right-click on the file or folder and click on Properties

Step 3: Go to the Security tab from the top of the Properties window.

Step 4: Under “Groups or user names”, click on your user name. Check the “Permission for User” section to determine your permissions.

Step 5: If you spot anything under Deny option, click on Edit button to change permissions.

click on Edit button to change permissions

Step 6: Now, uncheck anything under the Deny column and make sure all the boxes are selected under Allow section.

Step 7: Finally, click on Apply and Ok buttons, respectively to grant yourself permission to access the file or folder.

Now, try and open the same file and see if the issue is solved.

Method 2: Check the file location

Let us take an example where you are trying to open an application, say, uTorrent. You are likely opening the application(uTorrent) from its shortcut on your desktop.

If you are getting the error message “Windows cannot access the specified device uTorrent file”, it is very likely that the application file is unavailable on the location set on the shortcut.

Therefore, you need to check the file location on your hard drive and make sure that the file is truly located in the location it is supposed to be. Here are the steps you verify the file location.

Step 1: Go to the shortcut of the file, application, or folder causing the issue.

Step 2: Right-click on it and click on the Properties option from the menu.

Step 3: Under the General tab, check the Location parameter to find the file location of the original file that the shortcut represents.

check the Location parameter to find out the file location of the original file

Step 4: Select the location by dragging your mouse pointer over it, right-click, and select the Copy option.

Step 5: Now open My Computer or File Explorer. Double click on the header section where the file location is shown to edit it.

Step 5: Paste the copied file location by pressing Ctrl + P and press Enter.

Step 6: Now you must have the file location opened on your window and you should verify if the file is present in the location or not.

You must search for the file to find its location if it is not present. If it is in its intended location, you must check the other methods to solve the issue.

Method 3: Recreate the file shortcut

A major flaw in Windows OS is that when the file location of a shortcut changes, it does not get automatically updated in the shortcut. This means if you try to open the file from the shortcut, you cannot open it as the file is no more present in the original location. Therefore, you have to recreate the file shortcut, and here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: Right-click on the space on your desktop and from the menu, go to New and then to Shortcut.

Step 2: From the Create Shortcut window, click the Browse button and select the file from its current location on your hard drive. Click on the Next button.

Step 3: Enter a name for the shortcut and click on the Finish button.

You should have the new shortcut on your Desktop and can now click on it to open the file without any issue.

Method 4: Unblock the blocked file

There are times when Windows can block certain files on your hard drive for the safety of your system. For example, if Windows deems the Valorant game malicious for any reason, it will block the file. When you try to open the Valorant game, you will get the error message “Windows cannot access the specified device Valorant.”

If you come across such an error message, you have to unlock the file if you think that the file will not harm your computer. Here are the steps to block any blocked file.

Step 1: Go to the file or folder causing the issue and right-click on it. Go to Properties from the menu.

Step 2: From the Properties window, go to the General tab. Check the Security parameter and if you see a message with Unblock option, you need to select the Unblock option.

Step 3: Click on the Ok button to unblock the file.

Method 5: Disable Antivirus software

We have stated that malware and antivirus software can deny you access to any file or folder. Therefore, you should first scan your computer using third-party antivirus software to spot any malware and remove it instantly.

If the issue persists, you have to disable your antivirus software temporarily. This is because certain antivirus software blocks some files on your hard drive, considering them malicious.

If you try to open them, you will get the error message “windows cannot access the specified device path or file virus”. Here are the steps to disable antivirus software temporarily.

Step 1: Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and open Task Manager.

Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and open Task Manager

Step 2: Go to Start-up tab and find your third-party antivirus software.

Step 3: Select the antivirus software and click on Disable button.

Select the antivirus software and click on Disable button

Step 4: Restart your computer and check if the issue is resolved.

Once you disable the antivirus software here, it will not run automatically in the background when your computer restarts. You can always return to Task Manager to enable the antivirus software again.