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Windows 7: How to avoid virtualized versions of my files/folders

17 Jun 2012   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64bit
How to avoid virtualized versions of my files/folders

I am using a LocalAdmin account to modify a file that is meant for all accounts on the laptop:

c:/Program\ Files\ \(x86\)/Vim/_vimrc

I've read up on Windows 7's "feature" of presenting different versions of the file system to different accounts. I have to say, this leads to a messy situation where things can get very confusing. For example, I used a diff utility (packaged with Cygwin) and found that the following two files are identical (after much work reconciling their differences):

c:/Program\ Files\ \(x86\)/Vim/_vimrc

However, if I start cygwin shell with elevated privileges, they are different. It's hard to tell whether it is due to virtualization of the first or second file (or both). Is there actually a "ground truth" version of the file? How can I tell whether I am looking at a personalize (virtualized) version of the file? And how can I ensure that I am always looking at and working with the "ground truth" version?

I know that some might interpret this as a cygwin question, but it doesn't seem to be from my perspective. It could be any other app. Basically, how to tell whether Windows presented a ground truth version of a file system to an app, and how to avoid virtualized personal versions. I guess a corollary question is, if I am faced with such a "fake" version, how do I get rid of it and ensure that I'm always working with ground truth?

My System SpecsSystem Spec


 How to avoid virtualized versions of my files/folders

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