Fix “This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer” Error

Yesterday I removed some malware called ThinkPoint from a coworker’s laptop. After removing the virus and installing Microsoft Security Essentials I received a “this operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer” error:

this operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer

This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer

This error occurs when someone or some thing has blocked an application from running on your computer.  On a corporate network it may be a policy set by your administrator. If you see this error at home, it’s almost always because a virus has restricted you from running programs you may use to remove it.

Fixing “This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer”

There are two ways in which programs can be restricted in Windows. The first is through the Registry. The second is through Group Policy.  Try the Registry method firs, and if it doesn’t fix the problem try the Group Policy method.

Fixing the Registry

Programs can be kept from running by adding them to a key called DisallowRun in the Windows Registry. To remove these restrictions, follow the following steps.

  1. Open regedit by clicking your start button and typing regedit and pressing enter.  On Windows XP, Click Start, then run, then type regedit.
  2. Find \HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\ and delete the key called DisallowRun.

Fixing Group Policy

Applications can also be kept from executing via Group Policy.  To remove these restrictions follow these instructions.

  1. Open Local Group Policy Editor by clicking Start and typing gpedit.msc.
  2. Expand User Configuration.
  3. Expand Administrative Templates.
  4. Expand System.
  5. On the right-hand side locate a setting called Don’t run specified Windows applications. Double-click that setting and change it to Not Configured.
15 replies
  1. MineYou says:

    I did what u say and it WORKs!!!!! u r a genius!! Thank u, Thank u!!!

    I searched all day at microsoft.com and it say i have to uninstall and re-install and uninstill et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!!! I was just getting sick of all the stupid steps they give just to solve this problem. U r definitely smarter then them. Microsoft can definitely learn several this from u!!

  2. Brian Reich says:

    Glad I could help! While I’m happy Microsoft at least makes some effort to publish solutions to problems through their Knowledge Base pages, more often than not they’re absolute crap. But with a decent understanding of how their operating systems work and where they store certain settings, it’s not too difficult to nip problems like this in the butt.

  3. Joel Nelson says:

    This solution also worked after being infected by “Personal Security 2011” bug. I removed the bug and reinstalled MSE and recieved the “The operation has been cancelled…..” popup and then followed the above instructions and it worked. Thank You!!!

  4. Stanley Krute says:

    Thanks Brian. I’d never seen this particular one before, but it showed up on a client’s machine today. Your fix nailed it.

    Definitely the best part about a general computer practice is that you see something new every day ….

    — stan krute

  5. Chelsie says:

    i have this issue except:
    \HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\DisallowRun
    isn’t there there’s one that says HKEY_CURRENT_USER but that’s it and i can’t delete that

  6. danny says:

    Hey, so I was having the same problem fixing my aunt’s computer, and I followed your step, but it still wouldn’t work. I also had to delete this:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
    And it works now!!! Ah thank God I’ve been trying forever :D

  7. Lisa says:

    I got as far as Current Version & it does not have a ‘Policies’ in this section? Does this mean the bug/virus has found a different way around …. ? would really appreciate help on this. My email is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  8. Erik says:

    Thank you! Worked perfectly for one of my users. I was receiving this same message after uninstalling McAffee and Norton and installing MSE.

  9. Suhail says:

    Hi Brian,

    On my computer whenever i right click on my computer and goto properties i get that message
    The operation has been cancelled due to restrictions……..However my control panel is also missing and unable to open ADD/REM program as well it gives me the same error, and when i open internet explorer on the title bar i get internet explorer provided by lord ganesh cool i assume its a virus, i have K7 security able to scan but unable to update Please help

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