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"Access Denied" In Vista Hidden Folders

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Why am I Denied From Viewing the Contents of Some Hidden Shortcut Folders in Vista?

Today's Tip is a TRAP!!

And it's a Trap that almost ALL Vista Users have been caught by in the beginning, myself included...thank you very much.

Most Power Users, and many Intermediate Users run their systems with Hidden Files set to show, and in Vista this has been the cause of some Mass Confusion to say the least. When I first started Vista, I immediately set about getting the settings changed to the way I like them, and setting System & Hidden Files to show is one of my first basic changes. I do allot of work inside these folders so I'm constantly accessing them, it makes sense to run this way continuously then.

As I went about figuring out Vista's new innards, I noticed certain hidden folders with shortcut arrows on their corners, and the names of the folders were exactly the same as certain XP hidden system folders. Being the extremely inquisitive guy I am, I wanted to know just what was inside these folders so I double clicked on one, only to be greeted by this...

post-152-1178695570_thumb.jpg

Excuse Me????

I'm the Administrator of this Computer, and NOTHING should be denied me in this profile!

So I tried another, only to be greeted with the same "Access Denied" message. I double checked that I was running as the Administrator and tried again...same result. So I right clicked it and selected Properties, then the Security Tab and made sure I had Ownership of the folder. Then I tried to open it again and was again Denied Access.

Well by now I was getting a bit angry at this. The entire use for having an Administrator account is so you can have access to any area of the system in case you need it. So why am I being denied access into these Folders? What could possibly be in there?

I tried an old trick of booting into Safe Mode and had the system run through ALL the Folder & File Permissions, giving my Admin Account the Ownership of EVERYTHING!

I booted back into the normal Vista setting and once again tried to access one of these folders. Once again, I was denied.

By now I was FUMING MAD at Microsoft for having the "Audacity" to block an Admin Account access to any Folder in the system, and I wanted to know why this was the case.

So I Googled it.

Well, I soon found out that I was acting rather impetuously, and I certainly wasn't alone in that either. There were 1000's of pages concerning this very thing, and the explanation is rather simple, yet complex at the same time, and when understood makes perfect sense, maybe.

Vista has made many changes to system folder names and locations, some for security purposes, others because it just made more sense. But because of these changes, any programs not written specifically for Vista would never work at all, because they would have no folders to write their configuration files too. Many programs write these files into specific Hidden Folders in XP (and some earlier MS OS's), so to help these programs to be compatible with Vista, Microsoft added certain hidden folders with the same names as the hidden XP folders...but they're not Folders at all and they contain No Data!

They're called "Junctions", and their entire purpose is to redirect any programs files, from where they "Would" have installed in XP, to where they "Will" be in Vista, and to also redirect the program to the right place when it tries to access these files. Got it??

I thought not...

Ok...

Lets say an XP compatible program starts installing in Vista and wants to write it's configuration files into the hidden "Application Data" folder that's in XP. This is rather common really and many programs do exactly that, mainly to keep certain things hidden from users. Basically these are files that if messed with could make the program un-useable and some that they just don't want you to see or play with. Either way, it's a common occurrence in XP.

Well, there ISN'T an "Application Data" folder in Vista anymore, hidden or otherwise, so any XP program that "Could" be compatible with Vista, would stop right there and not install. So, in a rather ingenious way around this, MS engineers put these "Junctions" in place to "Redirect" these program's files to their New Locations, while tricking the program into thinking that it wrote it's files properly, and into the correct location. Also, when the program is running and needs to access or write into these configuration files, the Junctions redirect it also.

Clear now?

I thought not...;)

So, to all the New Vista Users, and all the Future Vista Users...don't "Fall" for this Trap!

They aren't Folders at all and that's why you're Denied Access to them...they just aren't Real. It's all been a Figment of your Imagination, and never really happened...Close your eyes...you're getting sleeeeppyyyy.

Ahh..the Joys of Vista!

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Thanks for the post Dave, I came across it after having obliviously fallen into 'The Trap'. While I had an inkling that what you have reported may indeed be the case, you've nonetheless confirmed it for me now.

One wonders however why MS went through the trouble of making them visible at all?

- Dharma

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Or why they made them look like a "Folder" in the first place!! even tho they're hidden by default...they could've used a more non confusing icon.

Glad to have helped dharma, I know that MANY new Vista users have been frustrated by this one..me included, in fact I was outright PO'D!

WELCOME TO BESTTECHIE DHARMA! I hope you Enjoy our friendly little community, and our absolutely Brilliant Members whenever you need help!

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I went through the same thing yesterday setting up a Dell Vista laptop. Set all folders to "show" and then spent hours trying to get access into them.

I finally found a report on the web that basically said what Dave said here. Should have looked here first. I forgot about the Vista forum here.

I was actually able to change permissions on a few of them however, but not all.

I discovered that "documents and settings/ username/ local settings/ history" for examle is not really there. It's just a link to the new

"user" folder located in C: where the history, temp, cookies, etc. folders REALLY live.

I suggested to the owner of the laptop that maybe they needed 2 gigs of ram, but they only got one. So far, I'm not that impressed with the speed of this thing. It's a Core DUO 1.8 gHz 17 inch with an ATI 256 MB video card.

Joe

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Actually, The files are there and can be found and used. I know I had seen the solution. Just needed to run a crossed it again. I believe this should help you to be able to use Vista's Common file and registry virtualization. There are some issues that this info will come in real handy.

Vista's Virtualization

• Look in the C:\Users\User_name\AppData\Local\VirtualStore folder to locate files and folders.

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Actually, The files are there and can be found and used. I know I had seen the solution. Just needed to run a crossed it again. I believe this should help you to be able to use Vista's Common file and registry virtualization. There are some issues that this info will come in real handy.

Vista's Virtualization

• Look in the C:\Users\User_name\AppData\Local\VirtualStore folder to locate files and folders.

Thanks, I'll take a look.

Joe

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One wonders however why MS went through the trouble of making them visible at all?
Or why they made them look like a "Folder" in the first place!! even tho they're hidden by default...they could've used a more non confusing icon.

That's a junction point's raison d'etre: it's an alias for a directory. They're supposed to be as similar as possible to regular directories (but no more so).

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MS does some funny things. It's a love/hate relationship. Like, if it's an alias or a shortcut, why not just make it accessible, like a symbolic link?

I can just see them sitting in the boardroom discussing this:

"Let's solve our refactoring problem by creating Junctions. We'll make them visible when viewing 'hidden' files, and they'll look like folders, but we won't let anyone follow them to the destination. Hey, how's THAT for thinking differently? (Jobs, eat yer leftie artsie-fartsie heartsie out!)"

...now, I wonder if they had to click "allow" or "deny" to get that bit of brightness pushed through?

sorry guys, just venting a little.

(I love those Mac ads)

- Dharma

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MS does some funny things. It's a love/hate relationship. Like, if it's an alias or a shortcut, why not just make it accessible, like a symbolic link?

Junction points are (limited) symbolic links. They're even called directory symlinks in the older documentation.

We'll make them visible when viewing 'hidden' files, and they'll look like folders, but we won't let anyone follow them to the destination.

Junction points are normal files and follow the normal rules for visibility and access control. AFAIK the virtualization JPs are hidden because there's no reason for them to be visible and set Everyone Deny Read to prevent processes that walk the directory tree but don't expect to encounter symlinks from getting confused. You don't want a backup app archiving both \Users\ and \Documents and Settings\ because it didn't realize that the latter is a link to the former.

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Also using scenario 2 will resolve a problem with downloading pictures from a camera or scanner. Once you download using programs for picture editing and such, you can't find them. Vista puts them in a virtual folder. (one way around this is to create a folder and place your pictures in it.)

When you use an application for which virtualization is enabled, you create data files in virtualizable locations of the file system. When you use another application or Windows Explorer to access these newly created files, you cannot find them. For example, if you save a file in a photo editing application in the %programfiles%, %systemroot%, or %programdata% folders, you cannot locate this file.

Resolution

Scenario 2 (from the link in my earlier post)

To resolve this issue, use one of the following methods:

• Click the Compatibility Files button that appears on the Explorer bar to view virtualized files in the folder.

The Compatibility Files button appears only if there are virtualized files in the folder.

post-60-1180066076_thumb.jpg

• Look in the C:\Users\User_name\AppData\Local\VirtualStore folder to locate files and folders.

• Save your application's data in a folder under your user profile.

Edited by JSKY
added (from the link in my earlier post)

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You guys are amazing. JSKY that's a great explanation of this issue and how to work *with* it rather than have it work *against* you.

I'm impressed.

take care guys,

- Dharma

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Thanks Dharma and Welcome to BestTechie

I'm glad all the folks here at BTs could help you out and help you understand how some of the new features in Vista work.

Feel free to post any concerns or problems you might have. We have a great bunch of members here. And everyone here is more then willing to pitch in and help in anyway we can.

Have a great day.

JSKY

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In my case I had a NEED to access the Applications Data file in order to transfer my email files to my new laptop. I use Mozilla's Thunderbird for my email so windows would not transfer my email files. Here is what I found that gave me access.

Use the "run" program. Enter %APPDATA% and press "ok". This gives you access to where ever the new Applications Data is stored. I did get all my emails and settings transfered. :thumbsup:

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Cool! Thanks for sharing this. I know it will come in handy. :thumbsup:

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