Gaining access to MY DOCUMENTS - Access Denied

So you restored your machine and want to get at the"My Documents" folder you had saved from your previous install. You get an"Access is Denied" Error Message When You Try to Open the Folder


When you try to open a folder in Microsoft Windows, you may receive the following error message, where Folder is the name of the folder that you cannot open:

Folder is not accessible. Access is denied.


This issue may occur if the folder that you cannot open was created on an NTFS file system volume by using a previous or alternate installation of Windows.  This issue may occur although you enter the correct username and password. This issue occurs because the security ID for the user has changed. Although you use the same user name and password, your securityID no longer matches the security ID of the owner of the folder that you cannot open.  Security ID's are unique for every installation, even if the user name, password, product key, and hardware are the same!

For example, although you use the same user name and password, you may no longer have permission to open the folder after you complete the following steps:

  • 1. Before you install Windows, you change the actual location, or target location, of the My Documents folder to another volume.
  • 2. You format the primary partition.
  • 3. You install or re-install any version of Windows.


To resolve this issue under XP Professional, you may need to turn off Simple File Sharing:

  • To Turn off Simple File Sharing:
    • a. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
    • b. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options, and then click the View tab.
    • c. Under Advanced Settings, click to clear the Use simple file sharing (Recommended) check box, and then click OK.

Note: Under XP Home, you MUST boot into safe mode, then log in as a user with administrative rights

  • To take ownership of the folder(s)
    • 1. Right-click the folder that you want to take ownership of, and then click Properties.
    • 2. Click the Security tab, and then click OK on the Security message, if one appears.
    • 3. Click Advanced, and then click the Owner tab.
    • 4. In the Name list, click your user name, 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, click to select the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects check box.
    • 5. Click OK.

      You may receive the following error message, where Folder is the name of the folder that you want to take ownership of:

      You do not have permission to read the contents of directory Folder.Do you want to replace the directory permissions with permissions granting youFull Control? All permissions will be replaced if you press Yes.

    • 6. Click Yes.
    • 7. Click OK, and then reapply the permissions and security settings that you want for the folder and the folder contents.


For additional information about file and folder permissions, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

161275 Interaction of file and folder security on NTFS volumes