Windows 7: All Users/Documents after upgrade from Vista RRS feed

  • Question

  • I stored many documents in Vista in C:\Docucuments and Settings\All Users\Shared Documents.  I can not find these documents since my upgrade to Windows 7.

    I understand Documents and Settings are now under USERS.  When I go to C:\Users\All Users\Document I get a message that the folder is not accessible and that access is denied.

    Any suggestions?
    Saturday, March 6, 2010 12:36 AM


All replies

  • From an elevated Explorer session you will need to take ownership of the folder (and possibly subfolders) and set the permissions to allow you full control of the files.  Then you will be able to edit them, copy them, move them, etc.

    There are a number of online articles outlining how to do this on Windows 7.  Search for "Windows 7 Take Ownership".

    Here is one such article:  http://www.blogsdna.com/2159/how-to-take-ownership-grant-permissions-to-access-files-folder-in-windows-7.htm

    Good luck.


    • Proposed as answer by Noel Carboni Sunday, March 7, 2010 4:27 AM
    • Marked as answer by Vivian Xing Monday, March 15, 2010 8:14 AM
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 4:27 AM
  • Here's the trick ... these are just links to the locations where Windows 7 is actually keeping the information you are looking for, and while the LINKS are highly protected (EVERYONE has NO ACCESS), the data you want to touch is NOT hidden from you, just a bit <smiley> hard to find.

    Here's how to get to where you want to go.  I assume that you are an Administrator and that if UAC is on you will "click through" the UAC checks.

    Use Explorer to navigate "towards" the location you want, for example "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Shared Documents" and stop (like you have a choice) when you get the "<Folder name> is not accessible.  Access denied." message box.

    Run an "Administrator: Command Prompt" (right click "All Programs\Accessories\Command Prompt" and select "Run as administrator") and cd to the directory above where you got stopped.  On my machine, I can't even get Explorer to show me "C:\Documents and Settings", so I stop at "C:\".  Type the command "dir /ah" (command to show all files with the Hidden Attribute) and observe the magic in the square brackets at the end of the line ... Windows shows you the ACTUAL location of the link that Explorer wouldn't navigate to.  On my machine (and probably on yours), "C:\Documents and Settings" is not a "<DIR>" but a "<JUNCTION>" and in the square brackets at the end of the line I see "[C:\Users]".

    But you are not done yet, because JUNCTIONS can point to directory trees that include their own JUNCTIONS, so you just repeat the process until you get to the actual folder you wanted.  On my machine, Explorer will happily show me the contents of "C:\Users" and then "C:\Users\All Users" but it stops me again when I try to view "Documents" (the same thing as "Shared Documents" in this context).  So, I repeat the process, and cd to "C:\Users\All Users" and type "dir /ah".  Now I see that "Documents" is a JUNCTION to "C:\Users\Public\Documents".  That's the end of this particular junction chain, and I can use either Explorer of the command prompt to get to "C:\Users\Public\Documents" and see that it is the actual location that is pointed to by "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Shared Documents".  This folder is not protected from Administrators in any way (other than the "security by obscurity" that led you to be reading this) and you can do whatever you need to do now that you know where to do it.

    This drove me bonkers until I discovered this trick, which works equally well in Vista and Windows 7.

    So, while I assume that it is true that taking ownership of the "EVERYONE gets NO ACCESS" junction points also provides access to the desired folders (I haven't tried), you can do it without disabling any of the built-in protections since, as it turns out, the folders are visible and accessible to Administrators with no changes to access control.  If you can do what you need to do without turning off any "security features", that seems like the way to go.  Turn them off as required, but if there is an easy way to do what you need to do while leaving security as-is, it seems better to leave security alone.

    I do wish that Microsoft had made this a bit more discoverable.  Right-clicking on a forbidden junction and choosing Properties could easily have told you the actual location of the folder pointed to by the junction, but it doesn't do that.  We could ask for this feature in the version after Windows 7.

    • Proposed as answer by Tad Marshall Friday, April 9, 2010 11:31 PM
    Friday, April 9, 2010 11:30 PM
  • Thank you for your <JUNCTION> tutorial! It was very useful in figuring out a directory.
    Wednesday, May 19, 2010 7:50 PM