If you see the “Windows resource protection cannot perform the requested operation” message, then we can safely assume that you are trying to run a scan using the SFC (System File Checker) tool. You probably have your reasons for using the SFC utility. And we suspect they have something to do with file corruption or damaged components. The System File Checker is the go-to utility for such problems, after all.

Note: The article here is the first part of the series on resolving the “Windows resource protection cannot perform the requested operation” issue on a Windows 10 computer.

How to Fix the “Windows Resource Protection Could Not Perform the Requested Operation” Problem in Windows 10

Since the “Windows resource protection cannot perform the requested operation” notification keeps coming up – which means SFC is struggling to do its job – you have to find a way to resolve the error (or bypass the issues associated with it). You are hardly the only user who has faced such a problem. You can rest easy in the knowledge that we are going to describe the most effective solutions and workarounds to the issue.

How to Resolve “Windows Resource Protection Cannot Perform the Requested Operation”

For efficiency purposes, we recommend that you begin with the first fix on the list. If the procedure fails to do enough to fix the problem, then you must continue to the next one and go through the rest of the solutions in the order they appear.

  1. Boot your computer in safe mode and use the SFC tool there:

Safe mode is an advanced diagnostic startup mode or technique used to get Windows to start up with only the most essential drivers, services, and startup programs. Third-party applications – and especially their processes and components – do not get to run in the operating system environment resulting from safe mode. Since external influence becomes a nonfactor in the environment, safe mode provides the ideal platform for isolating the cause of a problem and resolving it.

Here, we are assuming the System File Checker is struggling to perform scans and error-fixing tasks because something is interfering with its operations. Since the OS environment in safe mode is as isolated as it gets, you are unlikely to experience the same problems you faced in the regular Windows operating system environment. We will describe the procedure of getting a computer into safe mode for two different scenarios.

If you can start your computer normally and access your desktop, then these are the instructions you must follow to boot your computer into safe mode:

  • Use the Windows button + letter R key combination to invoke the Run function.
  • Once the small Run dialog or window comes up, you have to type msconfig into the text box in it.
  • Here, you must tap the Enter button on your PC’s keyboard or click on the OK button in the Run dialog.

Windows will now execute the code to bring up the System Configuration window.

  • Click on the Boot tab.
  • Check the items under Boot options. Click on Safe boot to get its checkbox ticked.
  • Click on Minimal (under Safe boot) to select this parameter.
  • Click on the Apply button and then click on the OK button to save your new PC configuration.

System Configuration is now supposed to bring up a dialog asking you if you want to restart your computer.

  • Click on the Restart button – if you are ready to get on with things.

However, if you cannot restart your PC now – if you have to save your work or perform some tasks first – then you must click on the Exit without restart button. In this case, once you complete the outstanding tasks, you will have to initiate the reboot operation on your own (to restart your computer normally).

If you cannot get your PC to boot normally to reach the regular Windows environment (and your desktop) – or if you are trying to use SFC to resolve certain issues at boot – then these are the instructions you must follow to boot your computer into safe mode:

  • First, you have to interrupt your machine’s boot sequence three times consecutively (in a row).

If you perform this task correctly, then your device will trigger Automatic Repair. And yes, you need your computer to trigger Automatic Repair. You can check for more information on this procedure and how to use it online.

You will know you have done the right thing when you see the Preparing Automatic Repair message on the screen resulting from the final boot move.

  • You might have to choose an account to continue. We strongly advise that you select the admin account (the administrator profile with elevated privileges).

If the account prompt comes up, you will also have to provide the password for the chosen account to continue.

  • In any case, you have to wait for some time while Automatic Repair is diagnosing your PC.

During this period, you will see the Diagnosing your PC message.

  • Once the Automatic Repair screen comes up, you must click on the Advanced options button.
  • On the screen that follows, you must select Troubleshoot.
  • Here too, you must select Advanced options.
  • On the screen that follows, you have to choose Startup settings.
  • Now you must select Restart.

Your machine will reboot itself to direct you to a special screen with several options.

  • At this point, you must select Safe Mode with Command Prompt by pressing F6 or the number 6 button on your keyboard.

Or you can choose the regular Safe Mode option. Later on, you will have to open Command Prompt in the resulting OS environment on your own.

  • Now wait until your computer reboots to go into safe mode.

After Windows comes up in the safe mode environment, you must reinitiate the task involving the SFC tool that you struggled with earlier. Open Command Prompt and then execute the required command. The System File Checker is unlikely to stop at a certain scan point this time.

If everything goes well, close the Command Prompt window and then make changes to your computer boot configuration to get it to boot into the regular Windows operating system environment. Basically, you have to undo or reverse the changes you made earlier to get your PC out of safe mode.

  • You have to go to the Boot tab in the System Configuration window.
  • Click on Safe boot again to deselect it.
  • Click on the Apply button and then click on the OK button to save the new configuration.
  • Here you must click on the Restart button in the dialog that comes up, or you must simply allow your computer to proceed with the reboot operation.

Assuming you are now on your desktop in the regular Windows OS environment, you may want to check your applications and settings to confirm that the problem you tried to resolve using the System File Checker has been fixed for good. If the issue persists, then you might want to run a scan using the DISM tool and then even redo the SFC scan to make things right. We described the scan procedure involving the DISM utility later in this guide.

  1. Run the CHKDSK tool:

The CHKDSK tool – which stands for Check Disk – is a popular utility used to run checks on hard drives for bad sectors, errors, and similar issues that cause disks to malfunction or fail. Here, we are assuming that the SFC scan failure is down to problems affecting your hard drive, so we want you to use the CHKDSK tool to test the component to find out if things are in order.

Perhaps your hard drive is failing, which might mean you have bigger problems to deal with than just the System File Checker refusing to do its job. Anyway, the Check Disk utility does its best to resolve the issues it detects (where applicable or possible), so you might not even have to do much in a scenario where something is actually wrong with your drive.

These are the instructions you must follow to run a scan using the CHKDSK tool:

  • First, you have to invoke the Power User menu through the Windows button + letter X key combination.
  • Once the list of programs and options comes up, you must click on Command Prompt (Admin).
  • When UAC brings up its window to ask a question, you have to click on the Yes button to confirm things.

Your computer will bring up the admin Command Prompt window now.

  • Now, you must type in the following code:

chkdsk /f

  • Hit the Enter button on your PC’s keyboard.

You are likely to see a message stating that the CHKDSK tool cannot do its work because the volume you want to scan is being used by another process or service. Windows will offer to schedule the scan task for the next startup.

  • Now, you must type Y and then hit the Enter button.

If you’ve done everything correctly, then your computer will receive specific instructions to initiate the CHKDSK scan at boot.

  • Here, you must close the Command Prompt window and then restart your PC.

The scan will begin.

  • You may want to pay attention to your screen to see if Windows tells you something new.
  • Once the CHKDSK tool finishes its work, you have to allow your computer to boot into the regular Windows environment, or you might have to restart your PC to apply the resulting changes (if necessary).
  • Now, you must redo the SFC scan.

If the “Windows resource protection cannot perform the requested operation” error manifests itself again, then you will do well to redo the CHKDSK scan. In your next attempt, we recommend you execute the chkdsk /r command (instead of the chkdsk/ f command that you executed earlier). This time, the scan operation will take longer than before, but you shouldn’t mind (especially if you get the results you need).

  1. Modify the security descriptors for the Winsxs folder:

There is a good chance the System File Checker is hitting a roadblock with its attempts to scan and repair your computer files because Windows is stopping it from accessing the Winsxs folder. Certain events might have occurred to induce higher protection levels for the directory in question. You have to modify the security descriptors for the affected folder manually. This way, SFC gets to access its contents without disruptions or interruptions.

Follow these instructions:

  • Here too, you have to use the Windows button + letter X key combination to quickly invoke the Power User menu.
  • Click on Command Prompt (Admin).
  • Assuming the User Account Control dialog is now on your screen, you must click on Yes.

Your computer will now bring up the Command Prompt window with elevated rights or privileges.

  • This time, you must run this command:

ICACLS C:\Windows\winsxs

  • Wait till you see the “Successfully processed one file” message.
  • Close the elevated Command Prompt window and then restart your computer.

You may want to run the SFC tool and initiate a scan with it to confirm that the problems associated with the “Windows resource protection cannot perform the requested operation” error message have been resolved for good.

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If you are still struggling with the “Windows resource protection cannot perform the requested operation” problem, then you may want to check the continuation of this guide (Part II). There, we describe additional solutions to the problem.