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Today I opened my laptop with Windows 7 and found many files 'hidden' everywhere:
files such as desktop.ini and folders such as System Volume Information.

The big problem I have now is that I can't open many important folders such as Documents and Settings, Default User, All Users, …

Seems that something happened to Windows. How can I solve that?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Everything you described is completely normal for Windows 7.

  • The hidden files you see are standard hidden files, used for various system tasks. They exist on any Windows computer.
  • Documents and Settings, All Users, Default User, etc., have all been renamed in Windows Vista (and, therefore, in Windows 7). Documents and Settings is now called Users, All Users is now called Public, and Default User is now called Default. What you are seeing is links created for programs that aren't written for Windows Vista/7, so that any reference they make to Documents and Settings will still work. You are not supposed to be able to open it in Windows Explorer.

It sounds like you turned on "show hidden files and folders". To turn it back off, hit Alt+T in Windows Explorer, select Folder Options, go to the View tab, and select "Don't show hidden files, folders, or drives".

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