I've discovered that the folder c:\windows\Downloaded Program Files\ where IE puts ActiveX plugins that have been installed ... is seriously locked down in windows 8.1

The situation I'm seeing is that we've got a web scanning plugin that in win 7, one can manually install if they're having issues - just copy the correct DLL into c:\windows\Downloaded Program Files\ then the plugin should work just fine.

And in win 7 it works like that. However, while working with a user who had windows 8.1, he was unable to write to that directory and unable to do anything with permisions for it even when running as local administrator.

I found the same to be true on my windows 8.1 system

REPRO: on win7 as an administrator, try copying some random innocuous file to c:\windows\Downloaded Program Files\

It works fine Repeat (also as an administrative user) on a machine running Windows 8.1 it won't let you

I recognize that this is likely a security measure to help fight malware... but I'm stymied... is there any simple fix that won't involve hacking the registry, killing a service, or otherwise opening up the PC to major security issues and/or instability?

(I'm ok with "no" but I'd like to ~know~ rather than guess here)

It also begs the question "how in heck to valid plugins get installed there then?"

  • 2
    What exactly is your question? I should add that this protection didn't change between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. The folder always required an Administrator level permission escalation to write to it.
    – Ramhound
    Jul 22, 2014 at 22:49
  • Ramhound, Fair enough - I guess what's bothering me is that I am running as an administrative user and I appear to have no rights to write to it at all. I can't even see a security tab when viewing properties... same basic setup in windows 7 works fine I can write to it. Am I missing something silly/stupid? Jul 22, 2014 at 23:11
  • This Windows 7 machine using IE11? If I were to hazard to guess the system attribute is the reason you cannot view the properties on this folder. explaination but this attribute goes back to Windows XP on this folder. Copying and pasting active x files in this folder does not actually install them.
    – Ramhound
    Jul 22, 2014 at 23:41
  • Ramhound, Yes, this is why I was so surprised... win7 machine with all the current patches and same version of IE 11... I'm just so used to things "just working" that I kind of take notice when I'm blocked from doing something I can normally do. The issue came up because we have a native ActiveX plugin to allow web scanning, and when it fails to download/install for a user, the manual process for install is "copy the dll to the downloaded program files directory and run regsvr32 to register it" Jul 24, 2014 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


I agree - I have same behaviour under Windows 8.1 when using File Explorer. I don't know what you can do about that.

However, I find that if I run an elevated Command Prompt I am able to successfully dir/del/copy on "C:\Windows\Downloaded Program Files" to manipulate the files there as I need, so perhaps that would do for you/your user?

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