Fixing "The File Cannot Be Accessed by the System" Error: A Complete Guide

This article offers an in-depth exploration of the common computer error "the file cannot be accessed by the system." It delves into various methods to resolve the issue, highlights the features and recovery steps of MyRecover.


By Lori / Updated on February 6, 2024

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Encountering the "the file cannot be accessed by the system" error can feel akin to finding a roadblock on a path you frequently travel. It's an unexpected pause in your workflow, often leading to frustration and a scramble for solutions.

The File Cannot be Accessed by the System

Whether you're working on an important document, trying to open cherished photos, or simply accessing everyday files, this error can disrupt your digital life. But worry not! This guide is your map to navigate around this roadblock, offering detailed steps to regain access to your files. So, let's start our journey towards resolution.

Understanding the Error

Before we tackle the problem head-on, it's crucial to grasp why this issue arises. At its core, "the file cannot be accessed by the system" is an error message that indicates your operating system is unable to open or interact with a specific file.

This can be due to various reasons such as permission restrictions, file corruption, or conflicts with running programs. Imagine trying to open a door only to find it jammed; the key might be fine, but something is preventing you from opening it. Similarly, this error signifies a barrier between you and your file.

Method 1: Check File Permissions

Permissions act as the gatekeeper to your files. If you don't have the right permissions, you're essentially locked out.

Step 1: Navigate to the file in question, right-click on it, and select "Properties" from the context menu.

Step 2: In the Properties window, switch to the "Security" tab to see the list of user accounts and their permissions.

Step 3: Click on your user account. Below, in the "Permissions for [your account]" section, check if you have permission to read and write.

Step 4: If you notice you don't have the necessary permissions, click the "Edit" button to modify them. Select your user account again, and in the Permissions box, check the options for "Full control" or at least "Modify" and "Read & execute."

Step 5: Apply the changes and try accessing the file again.

This process is akin to ensuring you have the right key to a lock, granting you the access you need.

Method 2: Use the Command Prompt to Repair System Files

Sometimes, the issue stems from deeper within, where system files may be corrupted or missing. The System File Checker (SFC) tool is like a built-in mechanic for your operating system, scanning for and repairing issues.

Step 1: Type "cmd" in the Windows search bar. Right-click on "Command Prompt" and choose "Run as administrator" to launch it with elevated permissions.

Step 2: In the Command Prompt, enter sfc /scannow and press Enter. This command prompts the System File Checker to scan your system for issues and fix any detected problems automatically.

Step 3: Wait for the process to complete. This might take some time, so patience is key.

Step 4: Once finished, restart your computer and try accessing the file again.

This method is like conducting a thorough health check-up and treatment plan for your system, ensuring all internal pathways are clear and functional.

Method 3: Check If the File is In Use

A file being in use by another program can also trigger this error. It's similar to trying to open a drawer that someone else is holding closed.

Step 1: Close all programs that might be using the file. This includes background applications that might not be immediately obvious.

Step 2: If you're unsure which program might be using the file, you can restart your computer to force-close all applications.

Step 3: After the restart, try accessing the file directly without opening any other applications.

This method is akin to resetting the scene, ensuring no external forces are keeping the file from you.

Method 4: Disk Error Checking

Disk errors can cause file access issues, acting as physical barriers in the pathway to your data.

Step 1: Open "This PC" and locate the drive where the problematic file is stored.

Step 2: Right-click the drive and select "Properties." Navigate to the "Tools" tab.

Step 3: Under the "Error checking" section, click the "Check" button. If prompted by User Account Control, click "Yes."

Step 4: If the tool finds any errors, follow the prompts to repair them. This might require a restart.

Step 5: After the process is complete and any necessary restarts are done, attempt to access the file again.

This approach is similar to fixing potholes on a road, ensuring a smooth journey to your destination (the file).

Method 5: Use File Recovery Software: MyRecover

When other methods fall short, file recovery software like MyRecover serves as a specialized rescue team, dedicated to retrieving what's lost.

Step 1: Download and install MyRecover from its official website. Ensure you're downloading the latest version for compatibility and feature access.

Step 2: Launch MyRecover and select the drive where your inaccessible file resides. Begin the scan process to search for recoverable files.

Step 3: After the scan completes, browse through the list of found items. MyRecover allows you to preview files, helping you identify the one you need.

Step 4: Select the file(s) you wish to recover and choose a safe location to save them to. Avoid saving to the same drive to prevent overwriting data.

Step 5: Once the recovery process is complete, navigate to the saved location and verify access to your file.

MyRecover acts as a bridge over troubled waters, offering a pathway back to your data when traditional routes are blocked.


Navigating the error "the file cannot be accessed by the system" can feel daunting, but with the right tools and steps, it's a hurdle you can overcome. From checking permissions and utilizing system tools to employing specialized software like MyRecover, each method offers a unique approach to solving this common issue. Remember, the key to success is patience and methodical troubleshooting. With this comprehensive guide, you're now equipped to reclaim access to your files and continue your digital journey unhindered.


Why is it important to run the Command Prompt as an administrator when repairing system files?

Running the Command Prompt as an administrator grants the necessary permissions to make changes to system files, ensuring the SFC tool can operate effectively.

Can I use MyRecover on an external drive?

Yes, MyRecover is capable of recovering files from both internal and external drives, making it a versatile tool for data recovery.

What should I do if the disk error checking doesn't find any errors, but I still can't access the file?

If disk error checking doesn't resolve the issue, it's recommended to move on to file recovery software like MyRecover, as the problem might not be with the disk itself but with the file.

How can I prevent this error from happening in the future?

Regular system maintenance, including software updates, disk checks, and backing up important files, can significantly reduce the risk of encountering this error.

Is there a risk of losing my data permanently with this error?

While the error itself doesn't delete data, unsuccessful attempts to fix it without proper care (e.g., improper use of recovery software) can risk data integrity. Always proceed with caution and consider professional help if unsure.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.