Fix: Windows cannot access the specified device path or file

Windows cannot access the specified device path or file

One of our clients called us the other day saying that she is receiving the ‘Windows cannot access the specified device path or file’. Luckily, this was a simple fix that took about 5 minutes, but we’ve had cases where it takes longer than usual.

This is a serious problem that may require you to reinstall Windows. If you’re reading this, it means that your computer is unable to read from one of its drives and hasn’t been able to use it for quite some time.

You might have noticed slower speeds in opening programs or files, or even a blue screen where Windows was telling you about an error before restarting on its own. If you are experiencing these problems with your computer, please contact us so we can help diagnose what’s going on and get your machine back up and running as soon as possible!

Causes of ‘Windows cannot access the specified device path or file error

There are many reasons why this error occurs:

The drive might be faulty and needs to be replaced.

The first cause of this error could be related to the life of your hard drive. Hard drives do eventually wear out, and when they do, it can cause Windows to become unable to access certain paths or files on the drive. One way to test this is by attempting to open the path or file from another computer or device. If you can open it from there, then the problem is most likely with your hard drive. Contact our repair specialists to replace your computer hard drive.

Windows might be set up incorrectly.

Another potential reason for this error message is incorrect Windows settings. This could be caused by changes you’ve made to your computer since you first installed Windows, such as changed permissions, a new user account added, or recently installed software that affects how Windows works.

The file or folder might be corrupted.

The file or folder you are trying to access could be corrupted. Fix corrupted files by running Chkdsk.

The drive letter might have been changed and the computer is looking for the old drive letter.

At times, the drive letter of your operating system drive could change, especially when using multiple devices. If the typical C: drive letter is switched with a D: or E: then Windows will not be able to detect it and you’ll receive this error message.

The file or folder specified might have been moved, renamed, or deleted.

The file or folder you are trying to access could be moved, renamed, or deleted. If it is moved, try to bring the file back to it’s original location and try again. If it is renamed, make sure the file name is spelled correctly and try again. If it is deleted, then you might not be able to retrieve it back.

There might be an issue with your user account privileges.

Sometimes this error message can occur if you do not have the correct permissions to access a certain file or folder. Check the security settings of the file or folder and see if you have been granted the necessary permissions.

The hardware might not be functioning properly.

If all else fails, there might be an issue with your computer’s other hardware components which requires further investigation. If you’re experiencing this problem regularly, we suggest seeking professional help from a computer technician.

There might be a problem with the Windows Registry

The Windows Registry is a database that stores all the information and settings for your computer. If there are any errors in the Registry, it can cause various problems such as this one. We suggest using a registry cleaner to scan and fix any errors in the Registry.

This problem might be caused by a virus or malware infection.

If you’ve ruled out all of the above possibilities and still can’t figure out why you’re getting this error message, you may have a virus or malware infection on your computer. We recommend using a good antivirus program to scan your system and remove any harmful infections.

The file or folder might be in use by another program.

If you’re getting this error message when trying to access a file or folder, it’s possible that the file or folder is currently being used by another program. Quit all programs that are using the file or folder and try again.

If you’ve tried all of the above troubleshooting steps and still can’t access the specified device path or file, your best bet is to seek help from a professional. There may be an issue with your computer’s configuration that only a professional can

Other tips that may solve the problem:

1. If you get this error while trying to read a DVD or CD, please try closing and opening it back up again. You can do this by clicking “My Computer,” right-clicking the drive and choosing “Close” from the pop-up menu. Then, right-click the drive again and choose “Open.” Sometimes inserting/ejecting an optical disc will fix any issues that exist with it.

2. Right-click on your hard drive’s icon in “Computer” or Windows Explorer, select Properties from the menu that appears, then go to the Policies tab. In the General, tab make sure that under Optimize for performance setting there is no checkmark on the box for “Compress this drive to save disk space.” Click Apply and then OK.

3. If you are trying to run a program and receive this error, restart your computer and try running the program again. If it still doesn’t work, try copying the program to your desktop and running it from there.

4. If you’re getting this error message when trying to access a file, double-check that you’re typing in the correct pathname. Also, make sure that you have proper permissions to access the file or device you’re trying to use.

5. Close all programs that might be trying to access the file or folder you’re having problems with. If your computer is set up so that it turns off sounds, turn off sounds temporarily before opening the file or folder just in case it’s an alert sound that’s causing the problem.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...