It’s a very common action to move a file or folder from one place to another due to certain needs (free up disk space or ensure security). However, it would be much depressed when you can’t copy files from external hard drive to computer (or vice versa). This post shows you how to deal with the Windows can’t copy or move files problem efficiently.

File Access Denied When Copying or Moving Files

According to users’ feedback, the file access denied error appears now and then on their device to prevent them from copying or moving files successfully. Some people reported Windows 10 not copying all files while others said that they can't move files between folders or Windows 10 cannot copy multiple folders.

Believe it or not, MiniTool Solution is very professional in data backup, file recovery, and problems troubleshooting.

There are many people complained Windows 10 won't let me move files; they said the system doesn’t allow them to copy, move or delete a file/folder.

Case 1: Windows 10 won't let me move a file.

I have recently downloaded a file folder and it contains a file rld.dll. When I try to copy this file to a different folder it asks for administrator permission. After I give the administrator permission it pops up with you need permission to perform this action and also you require permission from everyone to edit this file, but I have the only account on the PC. Does anyone know a solution to this?- from AlexTravers

Case 2: Windows 10 won't let me move/delete files as an Admin.

Went from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and while there are some serious issues I'm really liking Windows 10 so far--unfortunately, I can't delete/move files on my PC though I am an Admin with full controls and such. One file is on my desktop, but it won't let me delete from libraries either, or move them to another local. Any help?- from AtheresRiften

Case 3: I can't copy a folder to my USB drive.

I have an 8 GB USB drive. When I tried copying a folder of 90 MB with 4 files, it becomes unresponsive (Not Responding is displayed). I have to go to Task manager to end the task. It is not write protected in any way. I can create a folder and then copy my files individually to that folder. Also, I can copy files back from USB to my hard drive. Details of my USB drive: Files System: NTFS, Free Space Available: 7.03 GB.- from skay

Case 4: Windows 10 can't drag & drop files at times... and other bugs.

Not sure what happened or if it's a virus???? But I can't drag & drop files at times, sometimes I can, sometimes it won't, when I can't drag n drop I also can’t right-click anything. The options window would pop up for a millisecond and just vanish. It’ll get pretty bad; it would also just close programs automatically. I've tried the end process tree in explorer, disabling chrome extensions, uninstalling chrome, explorer, etc., disabled my touch pad, tried a new mouse; even did a factory reset on my laptop and still no fixes. Someone please help!!!!- from The©hosenOne

In summary, the Windows 10 can’t copy or move files cases can be divided into the following 6 types; please read them with care to find out the best solutions for fixing file or folder access denied.

Can’t Copy or Move Files/Folder Windows 10

Please try the methods mentioned below when you can’t copy files to external hard drive Windows 10 or to the local drive.

#1. Check account permissions.

  1. Press Windows + S to open the Windows search bar.
  2. Type control panel into it and hit Enter.
  3. Select User Accounts. (Click User Accounts again if you view by Category.)
  4. Click Manage another account link under Make changes to your user account section.
  5. Take a look at the accounts in the list and check whether there’s an “Administrator” word under the target account name.


How to change your account to Administrators if it's not:

  1. Press Windows + X simultaneously.
  2. Choose Computer Management from the WinX menu.
  3. Expand Local Users and Groups under System Tools.
  4. Select Users in the left sidebar and then look at the right panel.
  5. Double click on the target account to open the Properties window.
  6. Shift to the Member Of tab at the top.
  7. Click on the Add… button at the bottom left.
  8. Look for the Enter the object names to select section in Select Groups window.
  9. Type Administrators into the text box and click Check Names.
  10. Click on the OK button.
  11. Select Administrators. Then, click Apply and OK to confirm changes.
  12. Restart your computer.

Check Names

#2. Run SFC scan.

  1. Open Windows search bar and type cmd.
  2. Right click on Command Prompt from the search result.
  3. Choose Run as administrator from the menu. (Click Yes if you see a User Account Control window.)
  4. Type (or copy & paste) the command: sfc/scannow.
  5. Press Enter and wait for the scan to finish.

SFC scan

If the SFC scan failed, you should try the DISM tool.

  1. Repeat step 1 to step 3.
  2. Copy & paste this command and press Enter: DISM /online /Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth.
  3. Wait for the command to finish.
  4. Copy & paste this command and press Enter: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth.
  5. Wait for the command to end and reboot your PC.


[Solved 2020] DISM Failed On Windows 10/8/7 Computer!

#3. Restart Windows Explorer.

Another way to fix when you cannot move files in Windows Explorer is restarting it by following steps:

  1. Right click on the blank space in the task bar.
  2. Choose Task Manager from the pop-up menu. (You also press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to choose Task Manager.)
  3. Make sure the Processes tab is chosen.
  4. Look for Windows Explorer and select it.
  5. Click on the Restart button in the lower right corner. (You can also choose Restart from the context menu of Windows Explorer.)


[SOLVED] Windows Explorer Needs To Be Restarted: Problem Fixed!

#4. Scan for virus and malware.

  1. Close all the programs, applications, and pages you're working on.
  2. Press Windows + I to open the Settings app.
  3. Choose Update & Security.
  4. Select Windows Security from the left sidebar and click Virus & threat protection from the right pane.
  5. Choose Scan options under Current threats if your Windows 10 is up to date; select Run a new advanced scan under Threat history if you’re running a previous version.
  6. Follow the instructions to finish the scan and remove viruses found on the device.
  7. Restart your computer.

Virus & threat protection

Can’t Copy or Move File/Folder Open in Another Program

Sometimes when you’re trying to copy or move a file/folder, you’ll get this error message: The action cannot be completed because the file (or folder) is open in another program. How to fix this on Windows 10?

#1. Close applications.

You should check the programs and apps currently running on your PC. Then, close the applications that may use the file or folder you want to copy/move.

#2. Empty Recycle Bin.

  1. Look for the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop.
  2. Right click on it and choose Empty Recycle Bin.
  3. You can also empty the Recycle Bin manually: open Recycle Bin -> press Ctrl + A to select all items here -> press Shift + Delete to clear them.

Empty Recycle Bin

How to recover files deleted from Recycle Bin?

#3. Modify local group policy.

  1. Press Windows + R to open Run dialog.
  2. Type msc into the textbox and hit Enter.
  3. Expand User Configuration, Administrative Templates, and Windows Components one by one.
  4. Select File Explorer in the left panel. Double click on Turn off caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files in the right panel.
  5. Check Enabled instead of Not Configured or Disabled.
  6. Click Apply and OK to save the changes.


#4. Modify Registry.

  1. Open Run dialog.
  2. Type regedit and click OK.
  3. Copy and paste this to the address bar of Registry Editor and hit Enter: Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced.
  4. Double click on the IconsOnly DWORD in the right panel.
  5. Change the value data from 0 to 1 and click OK.


You can also fix the problem by:

  • Changing DisableThumbnails DWORD
  • Creating Explorer key and creating & modifying DisableThumbsDBOnNetworkFolders DWORD

#5. Delete the Temp folders.

  1. Type %temp% into the textbox of Run dialog and hit Enter.
  2. Press Ctrl + A to select all items. Press Shift + Delete to delete them.
  3. Type temp and press Enter.
  4. Press Ctrl + A to select all items. Press Shift + Delete to delete them.


#6. Perform Disk Cleanup.

  1. Press Windows + S and type disk cleanup.
  2. Press Enter to open Disk Cleanup window.
  3. Select the drive you want to clean up and click OK.
  4. Wait for the scanning process to end.
  5. Check Thumbnails and click OK.
  6. Wait for the action to complete.


Disk Cleanup Cleans Downloads Folder In Windows 10 After Update.

#7. Check disk for errors.

  1. Open File Explorer and right click on the drive with destination folder access denied error.
  2. Choose Properties from the context menu.
  3. Shift to Tools tab and go to the Error checking section.
  4. Click on the Check button and follow the instructions to finish scanning the drive.

You can also run CHKDSK command in Command Prompt tool to check & repair errors. How to fix if CHKDSK deletes your useful data?

Can't Move or Delete File Windows 10

Sometimes, you can’t delete a file or folder even by pressing Shift + Delete. This part focuses on how to delete files that cannot be deleted. First of all, you should make sure all the applications that are using the file you try to delete (or containing it) are closed. If the problem persists, please try the following methods.

#1. Use Command Prompt.

  1. Click Start and scroll down to find Windows System.
  2. Expand it and right click on Command Prompt.
  3. Choose More and then Run as administrator.
  4. Type del and the location of the file/folder you want to delete. For instance, E:\Test\text.txt.
  5. Press Enter on the keyboard.

Run as administrator

#2. Delete in Safe Mode.

  1. Open Settings by pressing Windows + I.
  2. Choose Update & Security and navigate to Recovery in the left window.
  3. Look for Advanced startup in the right window and click Restart now under it.
  4. Choose Troubleshoot, Advanced options, and Startup Settings in order.
  5. Press F4 to enable Safe Mode.
  6. Open Windows Explorer to locate the target file or folder.
  7. Delete the file/folder and restart your PC.

Restart now

Another way to delete items forcibly is using third-party tool.

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If you have deleted useful files permanently by mistake, please read this to know how to get it back:

[SOLVED] How To Recover Permanently Deleted Files In Windows
[SOLVED] How To Recover Permanently Deleted Files In Windows

Learn the steps to recover permanently deleted files in Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista after 'shift-delete' or 'empty recycle bin'.

Read More

Can't Read from the Source File or Disk

#1. Turn off your computer completely and turn it on again.

#2. Make sure the external storage is connected properly to your computer.

#3. Check the file system of the destination drive.

  1. Right click on the drive that you plan to move files/folders to.
  2. Choose Properties and look for the File system information.
  3. If it’s FAT32 or FAT16, please format it to NTFS. The FAT file system can’t support a large file (up to 4GB or 2GB). That’s why Windows 10 can’t copy large files.

You can choose to reformat the drive or convert FAT to NTFS directly!


The Volume Does Not Contain A Recognized File System - How To Fix?

Windows 10 Can't Copy Paste Files

If you can’t copy and paste files/folders or can’t drag and drop, you should do the following things.

#1. Make sure Windows 10 is up to date.

  1. Press Windows + I.
  2. Choose Update & Security.
  3. Click on the Check for updates button in the right window.
  4. Wait for the process to finish and install any update it founds.

Check for updates

#2. End rdpclip.exe and run it manually.

  1. Right click on the taskbar to choose Task Manager.
  2. Shift to the Details tab and look forexe under it.
  3. Right click on the process and choose End task.
  4. Go to this path: C:/Windows/System32 to find rdpclip.exe.
  5. Run it manually.

#3. Create a new user account.

  1. Open Settings to choose Accounts.
  2. Select Family & other people in the left window.
  3. Click Add someone else to this PC in the right window.
  4. Choose I don’t have this person’s sign-in information.
  5. Click Add a user without a Microsoft account. Enter a user name and click Next.
  6. Follow the instructions to finish the process and switch to this new account.

#4. Check disk for errors.

You should follow the steps mentioned in the above content to check disk in File Explorer or Command Prompt. Some users reported that checking disk has helped them solve copy and paste not working.

In addition, you can try the following methods when copy and paste doesn’t work:

  • Disable the shared clipboard feature of VirtualBox.
  • Disable Send to Bluetooth add-on.
  • Use third-party clipboard manager.
Note: You may see an Error Copying File or Folder window popping up to stop you from copying/moving files. There are many reasons causing it; for instance, there is insufficient disk space to complete operation. You should use different ways to solve the problem according to actual situation.

How to fix if you can’t move or copy a file or folder on Mac?

Can’t Copy Files/Folders to USB

In addition to the reasons and solutions mentioned in above cases, there’s a special reason to explain why you can’t copy a file or folder to a USB drive. That is the write-protection feature. If the USB drive is write-protected, you can’t add new data or edit files in it.

In this case, you’ll need to clear write-protection on it first by following ways mentioned here.

Recover Files & Folders Windows

How to Recover Mistakenly Deleted Data

Step 1: get MiniTool Power Data Recovery and install it properly (please don’t save it to the drive containing deleted files).

Free Download

Step 2: launch the software and select This PC from the left sidebar.

Step 3: specify the drive containing deleted data and double click on it.

Step 4: wait for the scan and choose the files you want to recover from the scan result.

Step 5: click Save and choose a storage destination. Click OK and wait for the recovery to end.

This PC

Please read this page to know more details on how to retrieve deleted files on PC.

How to Recover Files from External Storage

  1. Install MiniTool Power Data Recovery and run it at the end of installation.
  2. Select Removable Disk Drive from the left sidebar.
  3. Choose the target drive and click Scan.
  4. Wait for the scan and choose the file/folder you want to recover.
  5. Click Save and choose a storage path.
  6. Click OK and wait for the recovery to complete.


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Please read this page if you find files lost from an external hard drive:

Solved – Files Not Showing In External Hard Drive
Solved – Files Not Showing In External Hard Drive

This post tells why files are not showing in external hard drive from 5 aspects and it shows how to unhide files here safely.

Read More


In this article, I have introduced the common types of file access denied error and gave the corresponding solutions to fix it. You should determine which type your case belongs to and follow the suggestions one by one to solve the problem yourself. If you still can’t copy or move files on Windows 10 (or other systems), please leave a message below.

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