Learn how to fix "The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process" error when loading hive in Registry Editor for Windows 10.

Earlier, we’ve seen how to load hive in Registry Editor, in this following article:

How to load or unload hive in Registry Editor

We know that loading hive is quite important for administrators and it technically helps us to load registry about those user accounts which are facing some issues with their profile. Today, while loading hive using Command Prompt at boot, we came around following error due to which loading hive failed.

Cannot load X:\Windows\System32\config\SAM: The process cannot access the file because it being used by another process.

The Process Cannot Access The File Because It Is Being Used By Another Process While Loading Registry Hive

This is expected error which you will receive while loading user account via Security Account Manager (SAM) file. SAM file is basically a database file in Windows and it stores user account password and other relevant information.

FIX : “The Process Cannot Access The File Because It Is Being Used By Another Process” While Loading Registry Hive In Windows 10/8/7

The root cause behind you’re getting this error is mounting SAM file from incorrect folder. Actually, when you’re loading hive and look out for the SAM file in Load Hive window, Registry Editor by default opens config folder under X: drive. Here this X: comes due to Command Prompt at boot which defaults X: drive rather than using actual system root drive. Now since X: drive is nothing but its the memory in which Command Prompt is working, this error message comes into play.

Hence to solve this issue, you need to click the folder list under Look in section of window shown below. Then carefully locate your system root drive, note that it is always not C: drive.

The Process Cannot Access The File Because It Is Being Used By Another Process While Loading Registry Hive

Then navigate system root drive > Windows > System32 > config. In the config folder, choose SAM file. This should work up and the loaded hive can be find under local machine branch of registry database:

The Process Cannot Access The File Because It Is Being Used By Another Process While Loading Registry Hive

That’s it! See this fix if you can’t modify registry values.


  • Thank you Sir!!

    Question, I am here to enable Administrators account but the F key is 15 instead of 11 which is Disabled and suppose too change to 10, but I am not sure now since it is 15 and not 11 :( Any advice?

    Thank you in advance!

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Proceed as suggested here: https://www.kapilarya.com/fix-lost-administrative-rights-in-windows-10

  • Great – finally something that worked! Note that if you get a “Hive in use” type message, the SAM you’ve chosen is not the one you need to find (it should be in the C or D folder).

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Glad it worked for you 😊

  • I only see C (usb boot) and x drive. No other drive. Can’t log into the only account on the laptop.

  • Hellooo bro. Please help me, i don.t allow to c drive. C drive blank.. not any file in here,, thanks broo,, please help me

  • Hello, the c drive is not opening, when i click on it nothing happens. The photo shows that there is windows then system 32 then config in drive d which in my case is drive c but it does not show any what has been shown above. Please help, i am looking on the internet from past 1 week for this. I accidentally removed all the administrators and now facing this problem. Please help.

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Please check with any other drive, such as D, E etc.

  • i can’t choose the Hive i don’t know what’s the problem.

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