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Is there a folder on Windows that always exists (like a user home or ProgramData), but it can be modified and read only by Administrators?

So far, the best candidate I found is the %APPDATA% of the "Local System" account that seems to exist always. But it's real location depends on the Windows version and if it is running as a 32-bit or a 64-bit application.

  • C:\Windows\system32\config\systemprofile\Application Data
  • C:\Windows\system32\config\systemprofile\AppData\Roaming
  • C:\Windows\SysWOW64\config\systemprofile\AppData\Roaming

There is also a chance that in the future it may even migrate somewhere under

  • C:\Windows\ServiceProfiles\LocalService

And it may not be that easy to find this location if a software is running under another Administrator's account and not as "Local System" (a Service).

Is there maybe a better alternative to %APPDATA% of the "Local System" that I am missing?

Or is there a simple and reliable way of getting %APPDATA% of the "Local System" account by any other Administrator user?

  • 2
    Is there a reason you must use an existing folder, instead of creating and configuring one of your own? – user1686 Mar 10 '17 at 9:20
  • Well, we will create our subfolder in the existing one. So we need an existing folder, as the starting point. I do not like an idea to put one on the c:\ drive, for example. But, we could still use ProgramData and make our subfolder not readable by non-Admin users during the installation. That maybe a way to go, eventually... – Dime Mar 10 '17 at 10:23
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    Yes, if you're writing your own program, creating your own folder is definitely the way to go. Don't litter system locations. – user1686 Mar 10 '17 at 10:54
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UPDATE: If I understand correctly, you're looking for locations that can be read only by Administrators and where Administrators can also write. Here's a list of folders having these characteristics that are present both in both my Windows 10 and Windows 7 installations. Anyway, creating your own folder under ProgramData as per your comment sounds like a sane idea.

C:\MSOCache
C:\PerfLogs
C:\Windows\Temp
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Diagnosis\
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Crypto\PCPKSP\WindowsAIK
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Network\Downloader
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Provisioning
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Temp
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\LfSvc
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Power Efficiency Diagnostics
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\wfp
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows NT\MSFax
C:\ProgramData\USOPrivate
C:\Recovery
C:\Windows\appcompat\Programs
C:\Windows\AUInstallAgent
C:\Windows\LiveKernelReports
C:\Windows\Logs\HomeGroup
C:\Windows\Logs\SystemRestore
C:\Windows\Logs\Telephony
C:\Windows\ModemLogs
C:\Windows\PLA\Reports
C:\Windows\PLA\Rules
C:\Windows\PLA\Templates
C:\Windows\Prefetch
C:\Windows\security\audit
C:\Windows\security\cap
C:\Windows\ServiceProfiles\LocalService
C:\Windows\ServiceProfiles\NetworkService
C:\Windows\System32\appmgmt\MACHINE
C:\Windows\System32\Com\dmp
C:\Windows\System32\config
C:\Windows\System32\Configuration
C:\Windows\System32\ias
C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles\Fax\Incoming
C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles\Fax\Outgoing
C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles\Firewall
C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles\WMI
C:\Windows\System32\MsDtc
C:\Windows\System32\networklist
C:\Windows\System32\SleepStudy
C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS
C:\Windows\System32\spool\SERVERS
C:\Windows\System32\sru
C:\Windows\System32\Tasks
C:\Windows\System32\Tasks_Migrated
C:\Windows\System32\wbem\MOF
C:\Windows\System32\WDI
C:\Windows\System32\wfp
| improve this answer | |
  • If I cannot accept a comment as an answer, I will accept this one. There are obviously already subfolders in the ProgramData that are "admins only". So putting your data there and changing the permissions are the way to go. – Dime Mar 10 '17 at 12:33
  • You can ask "commmentators" to transform their comments into an answer (i.e. create an answer), then you can accept it. P.S. I wish those who downvote would leave a comment stating the reason: that would be a more constructive approach. – simlev Mar 10 '17 at 13:32

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