5 ways to fix External Hard Drive Access Denied on Windows 11

This error usually means you don't have permission to access the drive its file and folders. Here is how to fix the problem and Grant access to the external drive.


External Hard drives are useful to back up your work, its somewhere to keep additional copies of important files, photos, videos, projects or any file we’d like to keep safe. But sometimes when you connect an external drive to windows 11 PC you may greeted with Acces is denied error and unable to access the data and other important files in it. Users report I am not able to access my external HDD at all. It keeps getting “Location is not available” “F:\ is not accessible. Access Denied”. This error usually indicates that you don’t have permission to view the file or folder. Again it’s USB port or device failure preventing you from accessing the data.

There are a couple of reasons cause Access denied error on Windows 11, Improper connection of USB device, damaged USB cable used to connect or problem with USB device or a corrupted file system Lack of permission to access the USB device is common.

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External Hard Drive Access Denied

If you are connected an external drive to PC or laptop and it getting Access Denied error:

  • Disconnect the drive and connect it to a different USB port.
  • If you are using an external HDD, check for broken or severed cable problem
  • Connect the external hard drive on a different laptop or computer.
  • Temporarily disable the security program and connect the drive after system reboot, that helps if a temporary glitch prevents the drive to access.

Run disk Error Checking Tool

Running the disk error checking tool check the integrity of the disk and try to correct any error it finds. This tool performs the same function as the CHKDSK command utility does.

  • Press the windows key + E and select This PC
  • Now locate the problematic external drive, right-click on it select properties,
  • Now move to the Tools tab then click the Check button,
  • Scan the drive for errors, if windows found errors click on repair drive option

Scan drive for errors

Once done, disconnect the drive and reboot your PC. Now connect the external drive and check if the error is gone.

Reset User Permissions

This error Access denied usually means, you don’t have permission to access the drive and its files or folders. Running a simple command can reset permissions for all user accounts making it easier to use the external hard drive and fix Access denied error.

  • Press Windows key + S and type cmd, right-click on the command prompt select run as administrator,
  • Now run command ICACLS * /reset /t /c /q
  • Once done close the command prompt and try to access open the external drive.

In addition, you can run the command net user administrator /active:yes to enable hidden administrator account that has full permission to access anything on your system.

Take Ownership of Drive

  • Right-click on the external drive and select Properties.
  • Move to the security tab and click on Advanced option (refer image below)

User account advanced options

  • Now click on change permissions, In the next screen, double-click on your username or account.
  • It should be something like Administrators (WINDOWS-USERNAME)
  • In the next pop-up, you can give permission to the user account to read, write, modify, etc.

Give user permission

  • Select This folder, subfolders and files option from the drop-down menu and then check all the options below except Special permissions.
  • Click on OK to save all changes, Now try open the external drive folder.

Change Drive Letter

For a few users changing the drive letter of the external drive can help resolve the access denied issue.

  • Press Windows key + X and select disk management,
  • Right-click on the external hard drive letter and select Change Drive Letters and Paths.
  • Click on Change in the pop-up that follows, then choose a new drive letter from the drop-down menu,
  • And click ok to save changes.

Change drive letter

Now try to access the external drive on your computer, it should be accessable.

Check Your System’s Permissions

Ensure that your account has the proper access to the file or folder you are opening

  • Right-click on the external drive and select the properties
  • Move to the security tab, select your user account then click the Edit button,
  • Make sure to check the box beside Full control in the Allow column under the Permissions for User section.
  • check permissionsIf your username is not on the list, click on Add to add a new user with the correct permissions.

Add user

Also, refer to this video explain how to fix Access denied error in external hard drive on windows 10/11.

Also read:

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer
With over 7 years of experience in the IT industry, I have experience in IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. Certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.

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