File Access Denied on Windows XP and how to take ownership

In a recent hard disk crash, I had to do a restore from my back-up. Some of the files on a back-up drive was somehow avoiding me with an “Access Denied” even though I was logged in as the Administrator. I looked around and finally got the solution on how to take ownership of a file or folder in Windows.

Here are the simplified steps.

  1. Log on to the computer with an account that has administrative credentials. If you are running Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, you must start the computer in safe mode, and then log on with an account that has Administrative rights to have access to the Security tab.
  2. If you are using Windows XP Professional, you must disable Simple File Sharing.
  3. Right-click the folder/file that you want to take ownership of, and then click Properties.
  4. Click the Security tab, and then click OK on the Security message (if one appears).
  5. Click Advanced, and then click the Owner tab.
  6. In the Name list, click your user name, or click Administrator if you are logged in as Administrator, or click the Administrators group. If you want to take ownership of the contents of that folder, select the Replace owner on subcontainers and object check box.
  7. Click OK, and then click Yes when you receive the following message:
    You do not have permission to read the contents of directory folderName. Do you want to replace the directory permissions with permissions granting you Full Control?
    All permissions will be replaced if you press Yes.
  8. Click OK, and then reapply the permissions and security settings that you want for the folder and its contents.

That’s it.

  • Bazza

    Thank you so much... I had "lost" all my pics and documents to the dreaded "windows root>system 32hal.dll" missing or corrupt message on boot-up.   I successfully managed to install another copy of XP in another partition but could not access my original files (Access denied) thanks to you I have copied all the files to my new partition and am free to format and reinstall on partition one... happy days

  • Kursem

    I have do it. But, when I copying, it's always the same, "Cannot copy : Access is denied. Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file isnot currently in use."

  • Herman Aartsen (NL)

    thank you for this help. Keep on believing in simplicity!

  • mohamad alikhani


  • noahng

    My problem is I don't see the Security option and so I can't take "ownership". Can anyone help?

  • I cannot "take ownership" as I keep getting access denied. I have unjoined from the domain and rejoined to the domain and I still cannot change the default permissions on C:. I have tried using the local admin and the domain admin with the same result. A Windows repair did not change the result. Anything else?

  • vikas
  • Peter

    Excellent! Worked perfectly once I realised I had to log on in Safe Mode as the original Administrator rather than my newly created Administrator. Many thanks, saved the day!

  • pavan pandey

    wow u r great thank u vry much

  • THIS WAS SUCH A BIG HELP!! THANK YOU!! I had to start the computer in safe mode. That wasn't mentioned in the Microsoft website!!

  • Yiyit Prayitno

    Its realy work. thanks a lot ....

  • raj

    awesome bro thank u saved my ***, u are great. thanks for this article

  • Dr.Sohail Nabi

    Thank you from the core of my heart you have solved for me a problem that was causing me to have hypertention, now I have regained my files and important documents that I had backed up.

    • You're welcome.

    • Amnaa Haya

      and my all documents must be back up with ur whatspp num larkio k dalal

  • Alex

    I dont have the security option. On the properties what can I do ?

  • Adham Dahab

    Use Permissions Time Machine v1.0 to restore default permissions to folder or files or registry keys it's free and fast and easy

  • leslysab

    Try and download " Long Path Tool " is also useful in situations where you see these error messages: Cannot read from source file or disk, there has been a sharing violation, cannot delete file or folder, the file name you specified is not valid or too long, the source or destination file may be in use and many other file managing errors.

  • leslysab

    I just download and use "Long Path Tool" guarantees to fix your error fast and easy. Try it.

  • girish

    i transferred files from c drive and then formatted only c with xp.
    now, access is denied. i've taken ownership.
    but i still can't access.
    the parent is listed as some S1-S23.... kind of serial, and not one of the users(administrators/Users)
    what to do?

  • Colton Colcleasure

    Thank you so much. This was a life saver. Almost lost years of my life.

  • Sridhar MV Sharma

    Thanks a lot bro.....ur jus worked....muahh 🙂