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Fix: An unexpected error is keeping you from copying the file

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  • 5 min read

Windows is a rather easy-to-use and stable operating system that most people, if not everyone, can start using without requiring any help. That said, just like every other program or software in the world, it has flaws and can run into issues from time to time. 

In this article, we’re looking at the “an unexpected error is keeping you from copying the file” issue in Windows, its causes, and what you can do to fix the problem.


What causes this error?

The problem is generally caused when Windows can’t correctly detect a password-protected ZIP archive and tries to extract it regardless. This can corrupt the files inside the archive or result in incomplete extractions, which in turn, through this error.

Other possible causes include the following:

  • Incomplete or corrupt archive download. 
  • Missing or corrupt files.
  • Outdated Windows installation. 

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How to fix this?

Here are five fixes you can try out. 

Restart your PC

The first thing you should do in such situations is to try and restart your PC. Restarting your PC can fix a bunch of seemingly random issues that occur without any explanation whatsoever. 


Use a third-party extraction tool

The issue can also arise from problems within the default Windows unzipping program. A third-party extraction tool such as WinRAR can help resolve the problem as they’re often better at properly reading and extracting compressed archives. 


Check the file format

Another thing you should do is check to see if Windows supports the file format of your compressed archive or not. Several file formats, such as gzip or tar, aren’t supported in Windows by default and require a third-party extraction tool.


Check for appropriate file permissions

Ensuring you have the right permissions to access and read the target file can help fix the problem. Here’s how.

Step 1: Right-click on the file or folder you want to delete and choose Properties.

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Step 2: Under the Security tab, click on Advanced.

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Step 3: Click on Change in front of the current Owner.

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Step 4: Enter the username of the account you want to make the owner of the file/folder. Use the Check Names button to ensure you’re using the right username. Click OK when done. 

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Step 5: Make sure you have all the required permissions for the file. If you don’t, use the Edit… button to modify said permissions.

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Try copying the file or folder again, and the error should be gone.

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Run the Check Disk utility

The error can very well be a sign of your boot drive failing to perform as it should. Try running the check disk utility to check whether or not your storage drives are, in fact, functional. 

You can refer to our detailed guide here on how to run the check disk utility.

Run an SFC scan

Corrupt files are the number one reason your PC might behave weirdly. Here’s how you can get rid of them and potentially resolve your issue. 

Step 1: Press Windows Key + S to open the Cortana/Search box and search for Powershell. Open Windows Powershell from the search results.

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Step 2: Type sfc /scannow to scan your system for issues. 

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Step 3: If the SFC scan finds any problems, use the following command to resolve them. 

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
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Restart your PC, and the error should be resolved. If that doesn’t help, using this guide, you can run a DISM scan to fix any other errors. 

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Scan for malware

The issue can also arise from malware infections. Run an antivirus or antimalware scan using the security program of your choice to see if that helps fix the problem. Here’s how you can run a full scan on your PC using Windows Security.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for Windows Security. Click the corresponding search result. 

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Step 2: Click Virus & threat protection. 

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Step 3: Click Scan options. 

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Step 4: Select Full scan and click Scan now to start scanning your PC for malware. 

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Restart your PC and try again. 

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