I'm trying to copy data from my old laptops hard drive to my new desktop's. But on a certain folder, I can't copy any of the actual files - just the subfolders. I am informed that I require permission from myself, the only user and administrator on the computer, to change the file. I have taken ownership of all of the folders and files on the hard drive, which can be verified by viewing the properties of any of the files. Also, I have full permissions on ALL of the files and folders on the disk. So, why am I getting this error? And how do I fix it?

I have changed the owner and permissions on ALL child objects of the container. Here is a screenshot:

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I recognize that the files in question on drive G are encrypted, but I'm not allowed to decrypt them either...

In desperation, I've even tried rebooting after making all the ownership and permissions changes to the WHOLE drive. No luck.

I've searched for hours on Google for a solution, to no avail. These files are essential to completing my work project, so, I must resolve this issue.

UPDATE: Using the command line move/copy tools also returns an "Access Denied" error. takeown /f <folder> /r works just fine though, further proving that I do indeed have full ownership of the files.


The problem is that your user (on the new computer) doesn't have access to the encryption keys (from the old computer) that were used to encrypt the files.

Windows, confusingly, gives an "access denied" error message when trying to read an EFS-encrypted file that you lack the encryption key for (e.g. files that were created on a different computer). This is independent of ownership/permissions.

If you can still boot the old computer, decrypt the files from the OS install that they were encrypted from.

If you can't boot the old computer, see these questions:

Edit: It probably isn't possible to boot the laptop HDD on a different computer (Windows is finicky about hardware). But don't panic; the certificate is in principle what you need to decrypt. The problem is getting the software to use it. Try Microsoft's EFS certificate migration for Windows 7.

  • Agreed, you need to address the encryption problem though decyption to have any luck copying/moving the files. – edusysadmin Aug 3 '11 at 23:29
  • I was able to copy the EFS certificate, as instructed on the second page that you linked, from the old hard drive to the new one. But I was still unable to decrypt the files. Is there anything I can do now? Unfortunately my old laptop is completely dead. Could I boot my desktop to the old laptop's hard drive? I currently have the old hard drive installed in my desktop. – tvanc Aug 4 '11 at 2:36
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    Yeah, you'll need to boot and login to the original user account to have any success decrypting your files. – surfasb Aug 4 '11 at 3:09
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    @turibe: The certificate is not enough. You need to have the corresponding private key in order to decrypt data. – user1686 Aug 4 '11 at 14:57
  • This is over a year late, but I was able to boot to my the laptop hard drive on my desktop and decrypt the files. Thanks for your help – tvanc Dec 7 '12 at 8:05

Try booting off of some form of Live CD (or even boot into the Windows 7 Recovery Console), and copying them while Windows hasn't started. This may get around any issues related to encryption (though there are no guaranty that the encrypted files will work after they have been moved.)

  • I don't think that will work, since ntfs-3g doesn't support encrypted files. – Mechanical snail Aug 3 '11 at 23:26

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