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I'm reinstalling Windows for a friend of a friend, and I'm trying to use an Ubuntu LiveCD (8.04) to clear the hard drive first. (I don't have enough blank CDs for a proper backup.) But there are two folders buried in c:\Windows\assembly that refuse to be deleted, despite being empty. The error message is "Error removing file: Operation not supported," but everything else has been deleted without problems.

The computer was pretty badly infected with spyware and viruses, so it's possible that the filesystem might be messed up, but it seems to be otherwise fine.

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If you are just reinstalling anyway, why not just delete the partition using a tool like GParted. GParted should be available in Ubuntu if not installed by default in the repos.

If you need some help with GParted, check out these manuals:

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If I could get away with it, I'd just do it during the Windows install. Unfortunately, she has about 70Gb of music and such that she wants to save. I don't have enough free hard drive space or CD-Rs to back it up, so I have to keep the hard drive and hope nothing's still infected. – J'ai Dec 2 '09 at 3:42
Are you planning to install Windows back to this partition? If the windows directory is not there(to perform and upgrade) I'm pretty sure the Windows installer is going to wipe it clean for you anyway. – heavyd Dec 2 '09 at 3:44

Why don't you try the recovery console it comes with the windows cd.

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Because I'm a GUI whore. Actually, it didn't occur to me to try to delete the folder while I was in the recovery console running chkdsk. I'll have to give that a shot next. – J'ai Dec 2 '09 at 5:38

My recommendation is not to worry about it for the time being. Defrag the drive (which might solve the issue), and shrink the partition (with, say, gparted), and then create a new partition, and install Windows there.

Make sure that when you shrink the partition that you leave free space at the beginning of the drive since Windows is picky about its boot location.

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If the system was heavily infected with malware it may be worth writing off that partition completely as it is possible to hide malware in NTFS Alternate Data Streams and other areas that can be difficult to find and remove.

I would do as other have said and shrink the partition, copy what I need to the new partition, then delete the old partition and enlarge the new one to fill the disk. After install from media to the new partition. I suspect that Linux would ignore and not copy any data in files Alternate Streams so I think that should be safe.

As suggested GParted is a good tool to do what you need to do. If your drive is not large enough you could probably go through a cycle of shrinking and resizing the partitions to get all the data safely over, it would just take quite a while...

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