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I have an app that is writing a log file to its "Program Files" directory, like this:

C:\Program Files\SomeApp\blah.log

This is not my application, I have no control over how it runs or where it puts the log file.

Windows 7 file explorer does not show this file at all, even though I have selected "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" and deselected "Hide protected operating system files".

The file explorer does show the file if I navigate to:

C:\Users\svec\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\SomeApp\blah.log

Apparently there's some mapping going on from "Program Files" to this VirtualStore directory.

The app's log file viewer can see the file in its "Open File" dialog in "C:\Program Files\SomeApp\", but it has a lock icon for the file.

How can I get Windows 7 File Explorer to let me see that file in "C:\Program Files\SomeApp\"?


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up vote 4 down vote accepted

How can I get Windows 7 File Explorer to let me see that file in "C:\Program Files\SomeApp\"?

You cannot, for one very simple reason: That's not where the file is. Only your badly-designed application thinks that it is there. Windows is trying to cope with the bad design of your application, and is relatively unobtrusively placing the file where it ought to be, in an application data directory.

This is not a Windows problem to be "worked around". This is Windows fixing up your application so that it actually works when used by non-administrators. This is an application problem, that you should be nagging your application vendor to fix. The people who designed your application mis-designed it in such a way that when the security hole of letting everyone have full access to the program image directory was closed, the application didn't work for non-administrators. Windows is trying to work around this mis-design for you, trying to make the application operate as it should have been designed to operate, rather than expecting to have administrator-level access to everything.

Don't re-open the massive security hole merely for the sake of getting Explorer to show you an application data file where it really isn't and should not be.

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Your application has likely been identified as one which requires read/write access to the program folder, or is one which is very old (Win9x era code). Consequently, your application is running through the application virtualization system in Windows, which automatically redirects writes to the file system to the virtual store. Outside of programs which are virtualized like this, I don't know of any way to see the folders in the virtualized state.

The only workarounds I've found for it are:

a) Install the application somewhere other than \Program Files, and grant the Everyone group Modify of Full Control access to the folder.

b) Run the application in Virtual PC (XP mode).


I've done a little searching, and some applications seem to work correctly if you grant Modify/Full Control rights to the folder in \Program Files to normal users or Everyone, but I know I tried this in one app and it didn't help there.

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