Solved: XCOPY Unable to Create Directory (3 Ways)

On this page, you will learn 3 easy solutions to solve XCOPY unable to create directory error and get an easy-to-use XCOPY alternative with GUI interface.


By Jonna Updated on October 12, 2023

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User Case: Xcopy "Access Denied" and "Unable to Create Directory"

"I am using the Xcopy command like this: xcopy from_folder Q:\ /D /E /H /R /K /Y to copy a bunch of work files on another computer. But when running the XCOPY sequence, I get access denied on the files in the root directory and when it gets to the first directory, it says "Unable to create directory...". Why would this happen? Do you guys know how to fix this XCOPY unable to create directory error?"

Xcopy Access Denied

XCOPY is a command-line utility embedded in Windows operating systems, designed for the purpose of copying files and directories between locations. Nonetheless, when utilizing XCOPY, users may encounter various errors like XCOPY not working, XCOPY does not copy all files, or XCOPY does not overwrite existing files. Among them, XCOPY unable to create directory access denied is a common error. Some regular reasons resulting in this error include:

  • Insufficient permissions, preventing the copying of folders or files.
  • Attempting to copy between source and destination locations situated on different drives where permission is not granted.
  • XCOPY command is disabled on the computer.
  • Issues related to the source or destination files or directories, potentially result in the error.

How to Fix XCOPY Unable to Create Directory in 3 Methods

If you are troubled by the XCOPY access denied error, don’t worry. Here are 3 effective solutions that can help you solve it and make XCOPY run properly again.

Before attempting these solutions, it's advisable to consider the following quick workaround:
Reopen the Command Prompt with administrative privileges and reissue the command.
Thoroughly review and verify permissions for both the source and destination files or folders.

Way 1. Enable Xcopy

To enable XCOPY and resolve XCOPY unable to create directory on Windows 10/11 when copying files to another location, follow these steps:

Step 1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog.

Step 2. Type "cmd" and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Command Prompt.

Step 3. Input the following script and press Enter:

  • reg add "HKCU\Environment" /v PATH /t REG_EXPAND_SZ /d "%PATH%;C:\Windows\System32"

Reg Add

Step 4. After executing the script, retry the XCOPY command, and you should no longer encounter XCOPY unable to create directory on Windows 11. This solution should enable XCOPY and allow for smooth file copying to the desired location.

Way 2. Take Ownership of File or Folder

If you do not have permission to move, copy, or share the files or folders, your XCOPY command line will undoubtedly report errors like XCOPY unable to create directory access denied.

Step 1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog. Then, open Command Prompt in the same way.

Step 2. Input in the command below and hit Enter, please replace C:\Users\username\Desktop\file.txt with the specific file path and name.

  • takeown /f C:\Users\username\Desktop\file.txt

Takeown Command

Step 3. Execute the following command and hit Enter to grant full control, and also replace C:\Users\username\Desktop\file.txt with the correct file path and name:

  • icacls C:\Users\username\Desktop\file.txt /grant username : F

Icacls Command

Step 4. Reattempt your XCOPY command, and check if the solution has resolved the XCOPY access denied issue.

Way 3. Use the T or Y Parameter

The /t parameter can help you force the XCOPY command to create a directory structure in destination without copying files. While the /y parameter can stop the command from prompting you to overwrite files from source that already exist in destination.

Step 1. Open Command Prompt and type the following script, then press Enter:

  • XCOPY "source destination" /T

T Command

Tip: Make sure to replace "source destination" with the specific file directory and name.

Step 2. To further streamline the process and eliminate confirmation prompts for file overwrites, replace /T with /Y in the script.

Best Free Xcopy Alternative for Copying Files to Another Location

AOMEI Backupper Standard can be one of the best free XCOPY alternative that offers a graphical user interface (GUI) to simplify the process of copying a multitude of files. It works perfectly on Windows Vista/XP/7/8/10/11, making it versatile for file synchronization between various locations, be it from your PC to an external disk or from one PC to another.

Moreover, this tool is capable of backing up files to network drive, NAS, local disk, external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, CD/DVD disc, cloud drive, and a wide range of destinations. And it can help you set up scheduled task for data sync between two locations in daily/weekly/monthly automatically.

Download and install the freeware first and then follow the graphic tutorial below to copy files easily:

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Begin by running the AOMEI Backupper Standard software. Click on the Sync option and select Basic Sync.

File Sync

Tip: Basic Sync performs one-way synchronization from the source location to the destination path. If you prefer to perform Two-Way Sync, Mirror Sync, or Real-Time Sync, you can upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional or higher editions.

Step 2. Give your task a distinctive name for easy identification. Click Add Folder to select the folder you wish to copy. You can include multiple folders by clicking the + button.

Add Folder

Step 3. In the second column, click the inverted triangle button to specify the destination location. This can be a local disk, external hard drive, network location, or even a cloud drive.

Select Sync Destination

Step 4. With your source and destination folders set, click the Start Sync button to initiate the file copy operation.

Start Sync

Other settings you may need:

>> Options - Here, you can provide a comment for your sync task to document specific sync contents. Additionally, you can enable email notifications for your sync task.

Sync Settings

>> Schedule Sync- This feature allows you to configure the sync task to run at specified intervals, such as daily, weekly, or monthly.

Schedule Settings

In the End

The solutions in this article to fix XCOPY unable to create directory are easy to follow, but they may not work completely to solve all XCOPY errors. It is highly recommended to transfer files with a reliable and easy-to-use XCOPY supplant like AOMEI Backupper Standard.

This freeware offers not only synchronization capabilities but also includes features like cloning, backup, and restoration, ensuring complete data and computer protection. With this versatile tool, you can effortlessly clone SD card to larger card with just a few clicks.

What’s more, if you are a server user, it provides AOMEI Backupper Server to help you backup data on server system. For example, you can create restore points on Windows Server 2019 for system recovery.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.