Fix: ‘Location is not available: Access denied’ error on Windows 10

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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They are meant to protect your files. But still, being prevented from copying, deleting, modifying, or anything else you want to do with a file or folder because of inadequate permissions is no fun.

This unenviable state of affairs usually comes with the ‘location is not available‘ error. In this case ‘Access is denied’ is displayed as part of the error message. There are other variations of the error.

Curiously, in many of the cases where users have been confronted with this error, they had recently upgraded from an older to a newer version of Windows. This suggests there is a bug that prevents all your user permissions from migrating to new Windows installs.

How do I fix the ‘Location is unavailable’ error in Windows

Basically, every time you try to access an affected drive or folder, you are met with the same ‘location is unavailable, access is denied’ error message. You will literally be locked out of your own computer. We have a couple of quick fixes that will reset your administrator and user permissions and resolve this issue. Read on.

  1. Use the Command Prompt to reset your user permissions
  2. Manually reset the permissions for all blocked drives
  3. How to prevent the ‘location is not available’ error

Solution 1 – Use the Command Prompt to reset your user permissions

To open the Command Prompt, press the Windows and X keys together. Depending on your Windows version, a pop-up list will appear on the left side of your screen. Click on the Command Prompt (Admin) option. Grant the necessary permission for the prompt to make changes on your computer.

Before you start, remember to disable sharing if your PC is part of a network. Now, you will need to identify the specific folders for which the ‘location is not available’ error is showing. Let’s suppose it is the Documents folder. Follow the following steps;

  1. In the command prompt, type cd/users and hit enter. C:users, in this case, is the directory where the affected file is stored. Find out what that is for you.
  2. Type in cd/ username. Replace username with the username you use on the PC,
  3. Now paste this string, icacls Documents/reset/t/q. You will get this – C:Users>Your Username>icacls Documents/reset/t/q. Press enter,
  4. Your permissions for that folder should now be fully reset.
  5. Repeat the process for all the folders you can’t access because of the error.

Solution 2 – Manually reset the permissions for all blocked drives

The above solution is a shortcut that will save you time. But if you somehow can’t get the reset done through the Command Prompt, this one is an alternative, albeit one that takes longer. But it will get the job done all the same.

Locate the drive or folder for which you can’t get access. Right click on it and choose the Properties option. Then follow the steps;

  1. Go down to the Security folder. After you click on it this screen will appear; location is not available - reset administrator and user permissions
  2. Click the Edit button to manually enable the user and administrator permissions. You will get this; location is not available - reset administrator permissions 2
  3. Check the boxes under Allow. Normally, after you check the first, Full Control box, all boxes will be checked automatically. Note, if the Allow box is greyed out, first check the Deny box. The Allow box will instantly be opened for checking. Check the boxes you need to and then uncheck the Deny box you had unchecked.
  4. Click the OK button, followed by the Apply button,
  5. The initial Properties (Security) window should still be open. Open it if you had closed it,
  6. Still in that Security window referred to above, click on Users,
  7. Then click the Edit button,
  8. Now, here you will need to decide what permissions you will give to other people who use the computer. As the administrator, you will have Full Control. It may however not be safe to give every other user the same Full Control. In my case, I only checked the Allow button for the Read & Execute List Folder Contents, and Read permissions. Decide what is best for you and check the respective boxes, location is not available - reset user permissions
  9. Click OK, and then Apply.
  10. Click OK for the warnings that will follow.

Solution 3 – How to prevent the ‘location is not available’ error

Run a System Scan to discover potential errors

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It is not enough to fix the error without investigating its causes. That way you will learn how to prevent the error from happening again.

Avoiding doing the things that cause the error in the first place should be enough to prevent them from happening again. Granted, some of these causes may be beyond your control.

Some of the things you should look to avoid doing include;

  • Improperly shutting down your computer – Always close all programs and follow the standard Windows shutdown procedure before you plug the PC from its power source,
  • The above also applies to your external storage devices – Avoid pulling them out from the USB socket before the computer is done with whatever you were doing on the portable device. Even then, always close the drive first before you remove the device from the computer.
  • Recklessly exposing your PC to virus and malware infection – Make sure you have an up-to-date anti-virus running on your PC at all times,
  • Failing to properly care for your external hard drives and other portable drives – Run a drive repair and data recovery tool if you suspect physical damage to your external hard drive,
  • Tinkering with your file systems – Avoid playing around with your file systems and registry settings if you don’t have the requisite skills.

There are several other situations where the ‘location is not available’ error message may be worded slightly different. These include:

  • ‘Location is not available – parameters are incorrect
  • Location is not available – desktop blank and apps deleted’ and,
  • ‘Location is not available -‘CRC error’
  • ‘Location is not available – the volume does not contain a recognized file system’

Some of these may have their own fixes. But there are also specialist software tools you can also use to fix some of the errors. A quick web search should turn up enough options. The MiniTool Power Data Recovery is a good one. The tool can even help you recover data from a damaged drive partition.

The fixes we have discussed here should help with the ‘location is not available – access is denied’ error. This error is expressly a result of missing or corrupted administrator and user permissions.

Speaking of corrupted files, remember to scan your computer of viruses and malware if you notice this error occurring repeatedly or the computer itself behaving strangely.


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