There are books written about troubleshooting Windows issues. However, there are rare and peculiar errors that can make usage as a nerve-wracking experience.
One of those error comes in many variations with the same result: something keeps you from copying the file in the Windows system surroundings.
In order to address this, we enlisted a few solutions. So if you’re unable to copy-paste a file or a folder in Windows 10, make sure to gradually progress through the list.
How to circumvent An unexpected error is keeping you from copying the file error in Windows 10
- Make sure that file format is supported
- Scan for HDD errors
- Use a third-party archive utility
- Make sure you have the required permission
- Scan for malware
- Use Unlocker
- Run SFC and DISM
1: Make sure that file format is supported
Firstly, even though Windows shell supports an abundance of different file formats, it can have a hard time with the cross-system files which come from Linux.
So, one thing to take into consideration is double-checking the file extensions.
If you’re, say copying a folder which holds, among others, a non-NTFS file, the system won’t be able to recognize it. Thus, the error in the process will occur.
What you can do is, in case you have a dual-boot option, to transfer the file within the Linux system and then access and copy the file within the Windows shell.
2: Scan for HDD errors
If you’re positive that the files at hand are indeed not the problem, we recommend checking the integrity of the data storage.
Whether we’re talking about the primary system drive, slave drive, external HDD, or even a USB flash stick — there’s a chance that it’s corrupted and therefore unable to transfer the file or folder at hand.
Now, there are various ways to check the storage state and integrity, with both built-in utilities or third-party tools.
One of the most commonly-used ways is Chkdsk command which should, hopefully, identify and fix the faulty HDD sectors or corruption. Here’s how to run it in Windows 10 via Command Prompt:
- Right-click Start and open Command Prompt (Admin).
- In the command-line, type the following line and press Enter:
- After the HDD is scanned for errors, restart your PC.
3: Use a third-party archive utility
Now, even though File Explorer allows users to access certain archived/zipped files, it’s still a niche where third-party archivers are a better choice.
Especially if the files are at hand are encrypted. Namely, if an archived file is encrypted, Windows-own File Explorer will have a hard time recognizing it and it won’t be able to copy it from a location A to a location B.
What you’ll need to do is extract the individual files from the archive and copy them to the desired location afterward.
There are few free-of-charge tools for the job, including widely-known WinRar and 7Zip. Here we have shown how to do it with WinRar:
- Download and install WinRar copy for free, here.
- Install WinRar and make sure to integrate it into the Windows Explorer contextual menu.
- Navigate to the affected archived file.
- Right-click on it and choose “Extract…” from the contextual menu.
- Select the location or choose to extract the file ”here”.
4: Make sure you have the required permission
Some system files can’t be meddled with. They are off the limits for all conventional actions, including copy-pasting.
Also, if there are administrative prohibitions on certain files, you won’t be able to move them, copy them, or delete them.
Furthermore, if the file at hand was added by the former user, Windows won’t allow you to access it, as well.
In order to fix the first two, we recommend contacting the administrator. You can try and add the administrative permission in Properties > Compatibility tab, but that’s a long shot when it comes to resolving the error at hand.
However, what you can do is take the ownership of the folder or file which invokes the error. Here’s how to do it:
- Navigate to the affected file or folder, right-click on it and open Properties.
- Choose the Security tab and then click Advanced.
- Under ”Owner”, click Change.
- When a new dialog box pop-ups, click Advanced.
- Click ”Find now” and select your Microsoft account from the bottom list.
- Confirm changes and try moving/copying file or folder again.
5: Scan for malware
When it comes to system errors, we can’t turn head away from the possibility of virus infection. Malware has a lot of ways to play around with your system performance, and every troubleshooting must include a deep scan.
Now, we’ll use a Windows Defender but you can use basically any third-party antivirus for advanced and in-depth scans.
We recommend BitDefender which is, after the emergence of quite disturbing threats, easily the most reliable antimalware suite on the market.
Follow these instructions to perform a deep scan with Windows Defender:
- Open Windows Defender from the notification area.
- Choose Virus & threat protection.
- Open Advanced scan.
- Choose Windows Defender Offline Scan.
Once you’ve dealt with the possible malware infections, try copying the affected file again. If the problem persists, make sure to try out the remaining solutions.
6: Use Unlocker
There are a lot of tools seasoned users utilize for various actions. Now, these utilities can cause a lot of issues if misused, especially if you meddle with the system files.
One of those tools is the infamous Unlocker, a small and nifty tool which completely bypasses the system security measures. With it, you can move, delete, or rename basically every given file or folder in Windows.
If you really need to move that file or folder but the system errors occur every time you try, maybe the Unlocker will do you justice.
Installing and using this tool is rather simple, as it integrates into contextual menus and you can run it by simply right-clicking on the troublesome file or folder.
Follow these instructions to get and install Unlocker in Windows 10:
- Download Unlocker and run it. You can find it here.
- Right-click the file or folder and choose Unlocker from the contextual menu.
- Choose to Move the file and move it to Desktop.
- Try copying it from there.
7: Run SFC and DISM
Finally, we can’t skip on the possibility of corruption. Some system files in charge of the basic system processes might get corrupted, either due to virus infection or some internal issue.
Either way, when something like that happens, we highly recommend scanning the system with the built-in utility tools like SFC or DISM.
First, let’s give SFC a try and then, in case it fails to locate the integrity issues, move to the DISM. Here’s how to run System File Checker in Windows 10:
- Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
- In the command line, type sfc/ scannow and press Enter.
- Wait until the procedure ends.
And here’s how to run DISM:
That should do it. In case the error persists, we recommend Recovery options or the clean reinstallation.
Also, make sure to post your questions or alternative solutions in the comments section below. We’ll be glad to hear from you.
RELATED STORIES YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT:
- Fix: An old HDD is not showing up in Windows 10
- Full Fix: Can’t Copy Files to USB Drive Because It’s “Write-Protected”
- Excel won’t open files, shows a white screen instead? You can fix that