How To Fix ‘System Error 5 Has Occurred’ Error Message

The ‘System Error 5 Has Occurred. Access Is Denied’ error message may appear when you try to run certain commands in a Command Prompt window.

This happens even if you are already logged on as an Administrator (rather than a Standard) user account. Scroll down for the quick fix or keep reading for an explanation of why it can happen.

What Is System Error 5?

Microsoft describe system error 5 as an ERROR_ACCESS_DENIED code – basically access is denied because you don’t have sufficient system privileges to run the command. The example below shows the error message appearing when I try running a command to stop the print spooler (part of fixing a document stuck in the print queue)

system error 5 message

Why Does It Happen?

In this example, the print spooler is a core Windows service that should normally run all the time. So, for security reasons, stopping that service requires elevated system privileges – it is not enough to just be an Administrator.

Similarly high elevated privileges are required to run many other unrestricted or system-wide commands – especially those managing Windows services (e.g. net start and net stop) or those managing file sharing (e.g. net use).

How To Fix System Error 5

It is easy to fix a ‘System Error 5 Has Occurred’ message – you just need to open an elevated Command Prompt window and then run the command again. This should provide sufficient elevated privileges to run the command.

Follow the 2 steps below – they are the same for Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Vista:

1. Click ‘Start’ and type CMD into the search box. Right click on the ‘CMD’ program in the search results and select ‘Run As administrator’.

2. You may now see a User Account Control message asking “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?”. Click on ‘Yes’ to confirm.

This will open an elevated (Administrator) level Command Prompt window – now try running the same command again.

As shown below, you can see that my example command is now successful:

elevated command prompt window

Notice that the title of this window is ‘Administrator: Command Prompt’ which shows that it is running with elevated system privileges – just opening CMD on its own (without a right click) displays only the basic title of ‘Command Prompt’ so you can easily tell which is which.

That’s really all there is to it.

Keyboard Shortcut To Open An Elevated Command Prompt

If you prefer to use the keyboard wherever possible, or have difficulty using a mouse, it is possible to do this using only the keyboard:

Press the Windows key (next to CTRL at bottom left of keyboard) then type CMD into the search box – the ‘CMD’ program should appear in the search results.

Now press Ctrl+Shift+Enter at the same time to run CMD as Administrator. Then press Alt+Y at the same time to confirm ‘Yes’ to open the elevated Command Prompt window.

2 thoughts on “How To Fix ‘System Error 5 Has Occurred’ Error Message”

    • What command are you trying to run?

      There are other reasons to legitimately get a System Error 5 error e.g. if you used net view or net time then you may not have permissions to access the remote computer or a firewall blocked access or your time zone is incorrect etc

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