When Windows cannot access a network drive or a resource, the error message that Windows cannot access Z:\\ or Windows cannot access “Device Name” shows up. It means something is restricting access to network drives, resources, and devices. The error message results from a failed network connection wherein devices cannot access specific resources or devices spread across the network. Varied reasons concerning hardware and Windows can contribute to the cause.
Possible causes of Network error Windows cannot access
Delving deep into the underlying causes contributing to the Netwrork Error Windows cannot access, a web of factors can be framed as the ones contributing to its probable causes as detailed below:
- Sufficient Network Permissions: For access to network resources, the prime factor happens to be the permission to access the same, as granted by the administrator. One of the prime causes for the error can be insufficient permission for the user trying to access the resource.
- Network Connectivity: Once the permission issue has been sorted, the next thing to check is the reliability of the network connections, as improper or unstable connections can majorly contribute to the error.
- Firewall or anti-virus protection: Over-zealous firewall or anti-virus settings can also disrupt access to network resources for users and can, therefore, lead to the same error.
- Improper or misconfigured network sharing settings: In case the settings on the target resource or computer are improperly configured to lend access to the concerned users, such cases might trigger the Windows cannot access
- DNS issues: The Domain Name System or DNS is integral to a shared or distributed computing environment. It is key in resolving and mapping domain names with network addresses. Hence, issues about DNS settings or its associated resolutions can play a part in restricting access to network resources, leading to the error in question.
Fix Network Error Windows cannot access
Exploring the options concerning resolving the aforesaid error, the following steps can be adopted as the best possible corrective measure:
- Valid Network Permissions
- Reliability of Network Connections
- Firewall or anti-virus disabling
- File Sharing or Network Discovery settings validity
- Refresh DNS settings
- Reset network cache
- Use of UNC path
- Restart the target system or resource
- Disable IPv6
- Run Windows Network Troubleshooter
To resolve the issue effectively, follow the steps below using an administrator account.
1] Valid network permissions
Valid permissions play a key role while accessing resources shared over a network. The permission determines the access to network resources for specific users or groups and is configured on the host machine or the server. Hence, if network permissions are not in place, Windows cannot determine the authority of the concerned user, leading to the error. The network administrator can also be contacted for further insight in such cases.
2] Reliability of Network Connections
The next issue to consider in the said case is the status of the network connections. Checking for the physical network components like the connection cables (if involved) or the Wi-Fi signals along with the network adapters is crucial in determining the state of the network connection and can help significantly resolve the error.
3] Firewall or anti-virus disabling
Firewall settings or anti-virus configuration can also be responsible for blocking network access for users. Hence, temporarily disabling the same can also help resolve the issue. Please read our guide to disable firewall and security software.
4] File Sharing or Network Discovery settings validity
Network Discovery is integral to Windows, allowing users to locate or discover computers or peripheral devices over a network. If the Network Discovery option is turned off in the local system, the logged-in user may be unable to locate or share network drives or resources, leading to the error. Similarly, the File and Printer Sharing option facilitates sharing files/folders or printers across the network. Hence, it is equally important to enable the said option to avoid the Windows cannot access error. The below-mentioned steps can be adopted to enable the Network Discovery and the File and Printer Sharing options:
- Open Windows Settings using Win + I
- Go to Network & internet > Advanced network settings > Advanced sharing settings
- Check and Enable the Network Discovery and File and Printer sharing options
- Save the changes made and check for the error.
5] Refresh DNS settings
Since DNS is responsible for resolving the name-to-IP address mappings, problems about the same can also be a significant cause of the error under discussion. Hence, refreshing the same by clearing the DNS cache and reinitializing the DNS settings can also be helpful in this case.
6] Reset network cache
Winsock or Windows Network sockets are applications enabling the communication of data packets across the network. Corruption can also lead to undue breaks in communication endpoints, leading to errors. Hence, resetting network sockets on Windows can also effectively resolve the issue. The below-mentioned steps can be adopted for resetting of the said sockets:
- Open the Windows Terminal with Administrative rights.
- Type the below-mentioned command on the terminal to reset the Windows Sockets
netsh winsock reset
- Restart the computer and check for possible resolution of the error.
7] Use of UNC path
UNC or Uniform Naming Convention path provides a standardized set of rules to address or specify locations of the network resources like files, folders, etc. UNC can help avoid possible drive letter conflicts if the network drive is mapped and a possible reason for the Windows cannot access error. Hence, referring to the resource using the convention \\computername\sharename can help avoid or resolve the issue.
8] Restart the target system or resource
Restarting a device can solve a lot of issues. You may want to connect with the IT admin and ask them to restart the target system or peripheral while encountering the above-mentioned error. It can also be helpful as the same can reset the network connections once reinitialized and hence can be worth a shot.
9] Disable IPv6
Network environments, at times, may not support IPv6, or the same may not be configured appropriately, thereby leading to connectivity issues. Although IPv6 is designed to work in tandem with IPv4, there are times when the same can disrupt network connections.
Since Windows prefers the IPv6 configuration over its older counterpart, and the resource to be accessed has issues with IPv6 routing, it can lead to an error. Hence, disabling the IPv6 configuration can also help resolve the issue temporarily. The below-mentioned steps can be adapted to disable the same:
- Go to Network & internet > Advanced network settings > Advanced sharing settings
- Expand the adapter, and click on the Edit button.
- Uncheck the corresponding box for Internet Protocol Version 6 IPv6.
- Click on OK to apply the changes
10] Run Windows Network Troubleshooter
Considering the Windows Network Troubleshooter, the built-in utility for Windows to automatically detect network issues and resolve them, can also be helpful in this situation if the actual cause of the error goes undetermined or undetected by the user.
To conclude, the above-mentioned causes and the possible countermeasures adopt a 360-degree approach to the issue, considering all possible aspects leading to the error and the possible steps to be adopted to resolve the issue effectively.
Why does my computer say Windows Cannot access the specified device path or file?
The error message “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file” usually pops up when Windows security settings prevent you from running or accessing a specific program or file. This issue can be caused by problems like insufficient permissions, a blocked application, or corrupted system files.
What does network error mean?
When a network request fails, it’s usually due to a network error. Additionally, each network error is associated with a phase, indicating the specific point in the process where the error occurred. For instance, if the error occurred during DNS resolution, the associated phase would be DNS.