Fix the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ Error on Windows 10

If you’ve stumbled upon the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error while trying to access, move, or edit a folder or file, this article will help you solve this problem.

What does the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error mean?

The ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error is a very common error that can pop up in Windows 10. Users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 have also reported this error, although most users have since migrated to Windows 10. Windows 11 was launched to the public in October 2021, but this error does not seem to be an issue for Windows 11 at this time. 

Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container error message on Windows

This error is associated with permission issues. You are most likely to experience this error when trying to access files or folders on your computer. The error message might also state that “access is denied.”

What are access permissions?

All operating systems use some form of permission management. Permissions prevent files and folders that you do not own from being edited, deleted, or otherwise modified. 

Permissions management is a critical security feature. Without proper file permissions, your files and folders would be vulnerable to malicious activity from malware. Or even just an accidental deletion or editing of an important system file. 

Windows 10 uses six standard permission types that can be applied to folders or files. Each permission level has a different set of actions that a user can perform:

  1. Full Control – The user can read, write, modify, and delete files. The user can also edit permissions for this file.
  1. Modify – This allows the user to read files. They can also add, edit, or delete files and subfolders within the main folder.
  1. Read & Execute – The user can view and run executable files.
  1. List Folder Contents – The user can view and list files and subfolders, also able to execute files.
  1. Read – The user can view the folder and subfolder contents.
  1. Write – The user can modify a file. If write permission is applied to a directory, the user can create, delete, or rename directory entries.

Permission levels can be edited and given unique features, allowing for customization as needed.

What causes the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error?

The ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error can be linked to a few different actions and situations. The commonly reported permission errors can be due to:

  • You are trying to remove permission from other users.
  • You are attempting to access system files. These are protected because editing system files can trigger unexpected issues and system failure.
  • You are copying files from an external hard drive or USB that have been protected. The error arises when you try to open or modify the files.
  • You are accessing files that originate from another operating system, such as Linux or macOS.
  • You are attempting to access files that another user on the same system has set permissions for.
  • Default permissions give administrators full control permissions, but if the default permissions have somehow been removed, this error is likely.
  • There are obsolete permission entries left from now non-existent user accounts.
  • A system process is running in the background that protects the file or folder by keeping it locked.

Before you begin troubleshooting: Boot into Safe Mode 

Safe mode is recommended when trying to troubleshoot computer issues in Windows 10. Safe mode boots the operating system in an extremely basic state. Screen resolution may be off, and some applications may not work as intended. Third-party software and drivers are disabled. And even certain Windows drivers are turned off. Safe mode is often used to remove malware, problematic software, or roll back corrupt drivers. 

Safe mode isn’t required to solve the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error but is a useful and safe way to troubleshoot your computer. To boot into safe mode, follow the steps below. 

These steps are provided in Windows 11, but identical instructions are used for Windows 10:

  1. With your computer on, press the Windows key. This will open the Windows Menu. Type “settings” into the search bar and select the Settings app from the options.
Search bar - Settings
  1. From the Settings window, select Update & Security. Then select Recovery.
  2. Under Recovery options, find Advanced Startup and click Restart now.
System - Recovery - Advanced startup - Restart now
  1. Your PC will restart. The computer will display a Choose an option screen. Select Troubleshoot
  2. From the Troubleshoot menu, select Advanced options.
Troubleshoot - Advanced options
  1. From the Advanced Options menu, select Startup Settings.
Startup Settings
  1. On the Startup Settings page, click the Restart button.
Startup Settings - Restart
  1. Your PC will restart. From the list of options, select 4 to start the PC in Safe Mode. If you would like to be able to use the internet, Safe Mode with Networking can be selected by pressing 5.

For more details, read our dedicated article on how to boot into Safe Mode and how to turn it off when you are finished.

How to fix the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error when access is denied

1. Change the file or folder ownership

This is the most straightforward way to solve the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ and should work for most cases. Windows 10 users that have experienced this same error highly recommend this solution. Again the steps are demonstrated using the Windows 11 user interface, but the instructions are the same. 

To manually change ownership of a file or folder:

  1. Navigate to the problematic file or folder. Right-click on the file or folder and select Properties from the drop-down menu.
File - Properties
  1. When the Properties window opens, select the Security tab.
Poperties - Security Tab
  1. In the Security tab, find and click on Advanced.
Security Tab - Advanced buttton
  1. In the newly opened Advanced Security Settings window, under Name, you will find Owner. Next to a shield icon, click Change.
Change Owner
  1. A new window called Select User or Group will open. Under Enter the object name to select (examples), type in your account name for that computer.
Select User or Group window
  1. Click the Check Names button to the right. If your account name is now underlined, click OK. If not, click Advanced.. in the bottom left corner. If there is a user not selected that is on that system, it will be available in the list. Select your account name and then click OK and then OK again. 
  2. Back on the Advanced Security Settings window, two new options will appear. Check both options. Replace owner on sub containers and objects, which will be displayed under Owner. And Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable mission entries from this object, at the bottom, under Disable inheritance. Then click Apply
  3. In the Properties window, select Advanced again. Click the Add button located above Disable inheritance. 
Properties - Advanced - Add
  1. A new window, Permission Entry, will open. Click Select a Principal.
Permission Entry - Select a principal
  1. This time enter Everyone in the box under Enter the object name to select (examples). Then click Check Names.
Edit file ownership to fix Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container
  1. Click OK and close all open windows. You should now be able to change the permissions with no issues for that file or folder. 

2. Edit access permissions using the Command Prompt 

The next option available to solve this error is using an elevated Command Prompt. An elevated Command Prompt just means you are going to use Administrator privileges. You will be executing a series of commands to open permissions for the intended file or folder.

  1. Navigate to the problematic folder or file. Right-click on the file or folder and select Copy as path. (Paste this in a Word document, Notepad, or Google Docs for easy access if you are not good with keyboard shortcuts or the Command Prompt.)

    Your path will look something like this:
    “C:\Users\User\OneDrive\Documents\My Web Sites\WebSite1\iis.png”
File - Copy as path
  1. Press the Windows key + R. This will open the Run utility. 
  2. In the search bar, enter “cmd”. Then press Ctrl + Shift + Enter. This will open Command Prompt with Administrator privileges.
  1. If you are prompted, allow the Command Prompt to make changes to your device. 
  2. Execute the following commands individually by pressing Enter after typing each one. Where the command says ENTER_PATH, you should type in the path you copied and pasted from your file location. Spacing is important. 
    takeown /F X:\ENTER_PATH
    takeown /F X:\ENTER_PATH /r /d y
    icacls X:\ENTER_PATH /grant Administrators:F
    icacls X:\ENTER PATH /grant Administrators:F /t
  3. Now you can close the Command Prompt. You will be able to change file permissions now without issues. 

3. Disable User Account Control

User Account Control is a Windows 10 and Windows 11 security feature intended to prevent malware from damaging your system. User Account Control will prevent unauthorized applications from being automatically installed. Applications that are started with Windows Explorer are given a standard set of permissions. To solve the ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error, you can disable User Account Control, but be aware of the security implications.

  1. Press the Windows key and enter “Change User Account Control Settings” into the search bar. Select the matching Control Panel application.
Disable UAC to fix Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container
  1. In the User Account Control Settings window, notice the slider under Choose when to be notified about changes to your computer. 
  2. Drag the slider down to the bottom to Never notify
  3. Click the OK, but make sure to restart your computer. Once you have restarted your system, you should be able to access the problematic file or folder without issues.

‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ Windows 10 access is denied permission error resolved

The Windows 10 ‘Failed to Enumerate Objects in the Container’ error is fairly simple to solve. The error is associated with file or folder permission conflicts. Microsoft incorporates permissions management as a security feature, but issues can arise when trying to access files with strict permissions. 

This guide has walked you through three effective solutions, and if you’ve followed along, you should have full access to your files and folders by now.

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