Reset the Registry and the File Permissions in Windows XP

You may need to reset the registry and file permissions if you experience Access is denied error when installing a Windows XP Service Pack or update. (Example: Service Pack 3 setup error. Access is denied.)

Hint: If you’re seeing the error Service Pack 3 setup error. Access is denied when installing Windows XP Service Pack 3, to verify if the error is caused by incorrect registry permissions, open the file C:\Windows\Svcpack.log using Notepad and look for the text Access is denied or DoRegistryUpdates failed.

Note: Access denied errors can also be caused by third-party applications, especially anti-virus or anti-spyware applications. So, make sure that you close all the anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities temporarily and then install the Service Pack. This helps in most cases. You should reset the registry and the file permissions only if necessary.


Resetting the Registry and the File Permissions

Using SECEDIT.EXE (for Windows XP Professional)

In Windows XP Professional, you may use the following secedit command-line to reset the file and registry permissions to defaults.

secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\repair\secsetup.inf /db secsetup.sdb /verbose

For more information, see article How to reset security settings back to the defaults.

Using SubInACL

For Windows XP Home Edition (and Professional Edition), you may use the SubInACL tool to reset the registry and file permissions. Download and then install the Subinacl.exe (~370 KB) from Microsoft. SubInACL is a command-line tool that enables administrators to obtain security information about files, registry keys, etc.

Download, unzip and run the reset.cmd file. This script resets the registry and file permissions in your system.

Reset.cmd Contents

The file reset.cmd contains the following lines:

cd /d "%ProgramFiles%\Windows Resource Kits\Tools"
subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive%\ /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f

17 thoughts on “Reset the Registry and the File Permissions in Windows XP

  1. If you have the win CD start the “new installation” up to moment when it asks for repairing and you will have the graphical interface. Then press SHIFT+F10 and start regedit and change the permissions you want.

  2. That moment in the movie Die Hard when the safe suddenly opens and Odes To Joy echoes from the sky is what it felt like to finally break through my week long nightmare. Thanks only to THIS! One of the engineers at MS apparently may have mistyped a key when trying to help someone in one of the help threads I tried it several times to no avail. I can complete my sytem repair THANKS TO YOU KIND SIR!

    Should anyone find themselves here after failure with attempting SubinACL using the guidelines from the below thread at microsoft answers…LOOK NO FURTHER… DOWNLOAD THE ABOVE ZIP and use it.
    Then take a bow to the author after your done. :-)

  3. thank you so much! by pasting and copying your command line for windows xp pro, i was able (finally!) to download sp3 …thanks again

  4. Thank you, this saved some crucial files for me. I botched my hard drive in a recover situation by changing the xp home Permissions on a win7 pc. Bad idea. You’re batch file was simple, easy to understand, yet effective. Thank you.

  5. Eureka! I wasn’t able to install my new Office 2007 because of registry key problems. Microsoft wouldn’t help. I couldn’t figure it out on my own. This fix worked. Thank you!

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