Full error message is “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file.  You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item.” I’ve seen this error mostly on Windows 2003 Server and Windows Home Server.

  • Right click on executable
  • Go to Properties
  • Click the Unblock button if the application is trustworthy
  • Now install your application

If that doesn’t do it for you then you can try this as a last resort:

  • Go to Add/Remove Windows Components
  • Then uninstall the Internet Explorer Enhanced Security component

Full List of Access Error Causes

As you go through your troubleshooting, go through the likely causes and eliminate 1 by 1, the easiest to the most time consuming.

For me on my WHS box, it was pretty easy to determine the file was blocked by Windows and nothing else needed to be done besides unblocking it.

I have ordered the causes from most likely to least likely. Your mileage may vary due to whether your problem involves a file, drive, or shortcut.

  1. Windows has blocked the file.
  2. Your antivirus has blocked the file.
  3. Your external drive, shared drive, or mapped drive is no longer available.
  4. You do not have permissions to the file or the file location.
  5. The file has been moved or deleted.
  6. The file or shortcut is corrupt.

Access Error List of Resolutions

Microsoft has a suggested resolution for all 6 of those potential causes on their support page for this access error topic.


I used to hate generic errors like this – Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. At least after dealing with these issues, you can kind of group them together so the troubleshooting process isn’t as long.

It’s also worth mentioning this error isn’t just limited to Windows 2003 Server and Windows Home Server. The error can occur with any limited access operating system with the respective security settings. This essentially means any modern Windows Server operating system.

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