"Access Denied" When Installing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP

When installing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP, the installation may stop and a "Access Denied" message may be displayed. The installation of Service Pack 3 is aborted.

I find this is one of the most common problems when installing a Service Pack for Windows XP. The solution is pretty simple and applies for Service Pack 1, 2 and 3 for Windows XP. Microsoft has a KB article about this problem (‘You receive an error message when you try to install Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1: "Access is denied"‘) but their solution can be very tedious and stressful. Microsoft has another KB article for Service Pack 3 that deals with this problem (‘Error message when you try to install Windows XP Service Pack 3: "Access is denied" or “Service Pack installation did not complete”‘). The solution I am providing should only take an half hour or little bit longer and it is much simpler.

Restore File, Folder and Registry Permissions Using "SubInAcl"

Windows XP Home users should use "SubInAcl" to restore permissions since Windows XP Home does include "secedit.exe". Windows XP Professional users can use "SubInAcl" or "secedit.exe" to solve the "Access Denied" message when installing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP.

  1. Download and install SubInAcl from Microsoft Download Center.
  2. Click Start to launch Notepad (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Notepad).
  3. Copy and Paste the following contents in Notepad:

    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=administrators=f

    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=system=f

  4. Save the Notepad file at C:\Program Files\Windows ResourceKits\Tools folder and name the file as restore.ACL.cmd.
  5. Click Start and then Run.
  6. Type cmd.exe to open a Command Prompt window.
  7. Type cd\.
  8. Type cd C:\Program Files\Windows ResourceKits\Tools.
  9. Type restore.ACL.cmd to start the process of restoring the permissions for the SYSTEM account and the Administrators group.

    NOTE

    This process may take 10 minutes or more, so please be patient.

  10. When the process has completed then reboot your computer and try to install Service Pack 3 for Windows XP.

Restore Default Permissions for Windows XP Professional

Windows XP Professional users can restore the permissions back to default using "secedit.exe" but Windows XP Home users cannot use "secedit.exe" because the executable file is not present on Windows XP Home systems. Windows XP Home users can use the "SubInAcl" method mentioned above.

  1. Click Start and then Run.
  2. Type cmd.exe to open a Command Prompt window.
  3. Type the following to restore the permissions back to default for Windows XP Professional.

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

    NOTE

    This process may take 10 minutes or more, so please be patient.

  4. When the process has completed then reboot your computer and try to install Service Pack 3 for Windows XP.

Platforms Tested

  • Microsoft Windows XP Editions, 32-bit 
Related Articles

Version 1.2
Edited: May 14, 2012

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2 Responses to "Access Denied" When Installing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP

  1. Pingback: Microsoft Released Windows XP Service Pack 3 – May 6, 2008 « BillJr's Space

  2. Pingback: How To Uninstall Service Pack 3 for Windows XP « BillJr's Space

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