I just rebuilt my system after a new Power supply fired my CPU, MBD, Video card & a Blu-Ray drive.

During all this I had to restore Windows from a backup (sector copy).

All seems well, but today I went into Sample Pictures (by accident) and was clicking out of it when my eye caught something weird - Several files had identical names!

Here's what I have so far:

  1. Chkdsk shows no errors, drive is fine. Obviously rebooted. I always have Windows showing extensions, and Hidden files (doesn't apply here, none are hidden).
  2. The files are: (all are .jpg) Chrysanthemum, Desert , Hydrangeas, Jellyfish , Koala , Lighthouse , Penguins , and Tulip. Rest of them show single names, so not all dups. Stranger & Stranger.
  3. If I single click, twice, on the names (like you would to rename) one will highlight the first part, but if I do that to the second copy it highlights the whole name including EXTENSION! Ex:Tulip.jpg on 1st, Tulip.jpg on second. Second one's the "dup". Win7 normally only highlights the first part, not the extension.
  4. The names are identical. Not almost, no hidden characters, identical.
  5. If I "Open a Command Prompt here" and do a DIR, the names show properly! So the 8.3 names are right, but Windows is showing them wrong.
  6. They will re-sort properly if I change the view, with two Tulips next to each other.
  7. Opening Properties shows the same name for both, but, if you look at Details it shows the proper info - Camera, taken date, etc.
  8. If I open them, like in Irfan Viewer, they show fine with the proper name. I thought - "must be pulling the 8.3 name" but the names are long, like Chrysanthemum.
  9. If I switch to Large Icons, the thumbnails show different pictures with the same name under it! Ex: Tulip (#2) is really Waterfall, but shows the name Tulip.

So my question is:

How is it possible to have identical files, with the exact same name, in the same directory? And what could have caused that?

  • When you say "If I "Open a Command Prompt here" and do a DIR, the NAMES SHOW PROPERLY!", what exactly do you mean? Do you have duplicates?
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 20, 2012 at 14:29
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    @Tom the problem is most likely understanding why this happened.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 20, 2012 at 16:20
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    Do you have the option to Hide extensions for known types set in explorer? Aug 20, 2012 at 17:45
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    @PuterPro: There should be a little picture icon in the editor (Ctrl+G). But it's possible that you can't link images yet. In that case, just put the link into your question. Aug 20, 2012 at 18:35
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    @HaydnWVN - SO true. If I ran a Tech Center rather than being "a one-man-band", I'd put that on a big sign for all the Techs to be reminded daily. Might use that as a tag line on my Signature! (With CREDIT, of course!!) TTFN & Thanks again
    – PuterPro
    Aug 21, 2012 at 11:38

3 Answers 3


It's probably an issue with localization. There's a desktop.ini file in the C:\Users\Public\Pictures\Sample Pictures folder, that has some lines like these


The 8 files you listed in your question are the ones that are listed in my copy of this desktop.ini file. So my guess is that when you restored from backup somehow the localization cache got 'messed up'. List the content of your desktop.ini in your question and the language of windows (I'm guessing English) please.

  • Hmmm Interesting thought .... I'll go look. I'm liking the thought!!
    – PuterPro
    Aug 20, 2012 at 22:54
  • MY HERO!! THAT WAS IT! I normally have Hidden files shown but System files hidden unless I'm troubleshooting. How OBVIOUS in retrospect! (Always is, eh? LOL) I moved the TWO desktop.ini's. One was desktop (1).ini - dated 12/16/2008), the other 10/13/2010. The 2010 one had the files right, the 2008 was missing about half of them, the 2010 was fine. Moved both to a dummy dir and TA-DA! All was right. Wow, that one was weird, I'll have to read up more about localization I see! So much to know and no time to know it {Sigh} Thanks EVER so much!!
    – PuterPro
    Aug 20, 2012 at 23:07
  • @PuterPro glad I could help you solve your mystery. Could you mark this as the accepted answer if you feel it does solve your problem?
    – frozenkoi
    Aug 21, 2012 at 0:57
  • Nice, I wouldn't have thought of that!
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 21, 2012 at 8:00
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    Good info, never realised an invalid desktop.ini could cause ghost files!
    – HaydnWVN
    Aug 21, 2012 at 9:28

From what I recall in Windows 7, the Libraries are something particular, which regroups the content from several folders. They do not behave like your regular folder.

In your particular case, it is highly possible that you have in there images from "all users", and your main account, with the same names.

It doesn't explain why you would have different pictures for something supposed to be "Tulips", but it could justify the possibility to have files with the same names.

  • Yeah, I know about Libraries, and the multiple location thing, but these are in the same folder. You DID give me an idea tho' - I'll try copying them. Regardless of the outcome of that, tho' I STILL want to know what's causing it, too many years as a Tech, I MUST KNOW THE ANSWER syndrome! LOL! Thanks for the reply!
    – PuterPro
    Aug 20, 2012 at 14:27
  • "Sample pictures" is usually inside a library, that's why I thought it might be the issue.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 20, 2012 at 14:29
  • Wow! You're FAST! :) I just tried copying and, of course there were OK at the destination. I turned on Details and edited the columns to show Folder Location, and they're all in C:\Users\Public\Public Pictures\Sample Pictures ... Hmmm. Really odd.
    – PuterPro
    Aug 20, 2012 at 14:31
  • Sample library + include public folders ;)
    – rtf
    Aug 20, 2012 at 14:35
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    I know what you mean, but this doesn't seem to be a "libraries dups" issue where it's showing dups from two locations, they're in the SAME folder. Deleting one deletes it. Restoring returns it, complete with "dup'd" name. Good thoght,tho'!
    – PuterPro
    Aug 20, 2012 at 15:40

It's quite possible with your repairs/fixes that the original files were corrupted/rebuilt/recovered by any 1 of the tools used (particually a sfc or windows reinstall).

It may well just be that folder that's affected, but it's certainly worth checking others!

If you don't want them - delete away! They're more than safe enough to remove.

  • I did not do any "Windows repairs (SFC)" or reinstall. I restored the Boot drive from a Clone, Sector-by-Sector. I'm not finding any other files like this & everything runs fine. I'm VERY familiar with my files, I live on this machine and am a Tech. ;-) I have no desire to delete them, and yes, I know they're samples. The POINT is I want to find the answer to how Windows could show identical file names in a Folder. It should be impossible. Thanks for the thoughts!
    – PuterPro
    Aug 20, 2012 at 16:47
  • You're correct in thinking it * shouldn't * be possible, but i've seen many strange things in my years of support... Including a (recovered) folder with 1000's of files all named the same... Files with invalid characters in names one boot and then valid upon reboot, even... Ghostly/Phantom files!
    – HaydnWVN
    Aug 21, 2012 at 9:19

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