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Windows 7: Windows Explorer problem, whenever an ext HDD contains Windows folders

14 Apr 2011   #1
TheeInferno

Win 7 Home Premium 32 Bit
 
 
Search/view problems in Win 7 with ext HDD containing Windows folders

I have looked online for hours, reading various forum threads in the hopes that I can figure this out myself, but to no avail. Maybe I'm just using the wrong search terminology and someone here will know the answer if I put it in layman's terms? My problem is that I frequently help people clean off malware or recover data by pulling the hard drive from a problem computer, and attaching it to a host, via a USB external caddy. I also frequently restore or share files that way (dragging over what I want manually, rather than using system backups). When a host computer is running XP, I never have any problem using Windows Explorer to view system folders and subfolders on a slave drive, and I can get to whatever files I need to manage in a straightforward fashion, by searching, or clicking from a traditional "tree" view. If, for example, I needed access to E:/Users/Bob/My Music/iTunes, then I could access that location without a problem, because any system folders in a path beginning with E: were always treated as totally distinct from anything in a path beginning with C: Since migrating to Windows 7 on a number of my host computers, I have found that whenever I'm trying to work with an external drive that has Windows on it, (regardless of the version), Windows Explorer will automatically replace views and search results for my external drive, with the contents of similar folders on the INTERNAL drive! Since I am usually dealing with folders that have common default names and storage locations, like "Users" or "Documents", the refusal to show my external "duplicates" is a real problem. The drives that I connect externally are generally fairly large, and they change constantly, so it's not like I can just add the contents of one drive to an index on the host computer and be done with it; in fact I don't want to index any of this stuff, I just need for ALL the folders and subfolders on EACH external drive to automatically be treated by my Windows 7 host computer as a totally separate entity from the internal drive, just like they were in XP, even if the master contains system folders which share the same name or path. Can this be fixed in Windows Explorer, or do I need to start using a 3rd party software to search and manage external drives? It doesn't seem to have anything to do with security or permissions on the externals, nor with what OS is on there, nor even with view settings (I always have hidden and system files set to visible when I work) and it continues to happen even if try to specify a detailed/filtered search that excludes my internal. Any thoughts on how to fix this, or should I just go back to using an XP host when I work?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Apr 2011   #2
WebMattR

W7 Professional x64
 
 

It sounds like an issue with the indexing service (i.e: the index is pulling the folders from C:\ since they're already indexed, as opposed to your drive, which isn't). Is it possible for you to simply rename them distinct, different names? I see that as being the cleanest, simplest solution. If that isn't possible, if you can tell me why I'll try to come up with a different solution for you.

(if you need a new naming algorithm, I suggest trying etymonline, and using the previous form of the word, like usare for users and docere for documents.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2011   #3
TheeInferno

Win 7 Home Premium 32 Bit
 
 

Thank you for your reply. It may indeed have something to do with indexing, but it happens with all the computers (dozens) upon which I have installed Windows 7, and in every version of 7, so it's not specific to any one build or PC. I have tried turning indexing on, turning indexing off, even disabling it as a service, and nothing I have done has helped. I can't seem to find any setting or preference to adjust this behavior from a GUI anywhere, nor any reference online to a registry tweak that would fix it. I'm afraid that your suggestion of renaming the "twin" folders on the external hard drives is not an option, because we are talking about tons and tons of folders and subfolders, and changing all those system file names would screw up THAT drive's operating system. Remember, the "externals" I'm having problems with are bootable master drives which have been temporarily converted to slaves, not storage drives where the file names wouldn't matter. I've done more experimenting today, and I think Windows Explorer alternatives have the same problem. Even my antivirus does it, making it take three times longer to finish a scan.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Apr 2011   #4
WebMattR

W7 Professional x64
 
 

Okay then. Well, with this being the case, let's change tactics. What exactly are you attempting to accomplish with these bootable drives you're mounting as slaves? If we can't change the OS, maybe we can change the way things are done, and solve the problem just the same.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2011   #5
TheeInferno

Win 7 Home Premium 32 Bit
 
 

In some cases I'm retrieving files from a drive that won't boot due to bad sectors, corrupted registry, infection etc. or sometimes the drive is ok but it had to be pulled from a computer that failed. The majority of the time I'm trying to access and copy over personal stuff (photos, videos, music, documents, etc.) which I will later restore to a new drive, computer or copy of Windows. Occasionally I'm not backing up any data, but I need to scan the drive in a non-booted state in order to clean some bugs off it. I can't keep running the risk of overlooking, and then wiping, an important archive called "New Folder" in the root of drive E, just because there happened to be a "New Folder" on the C drive, and Windows 7 decided in its infinite wisdom to show me that instead, even while displaying the correct path for E.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2011   #6
TheeInferno

Win 7 Home Premium 32 Bit
 
 

Purely as an experiment, I went into the advanced settings for indexing on the machine I'm using now, and am rebuilding from scratch with a bunch of stuff on C deselected and with an external drive included. I changed some defaults for how file types are indexed, and added more data to each stored description, to see if that would make a difference. Also, I don't know much about file encryption, and never use Bitlocker or intentionally encrypt any of my files, but just in case it could be related, (especially where Vista is the external's OS) I enabled adding encrypted files to the index, if found.
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15 Apr 2011   #7
Shootist

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 

Have you tried some other file management software.
Maybe something like Explorer++.

Also why not turn OFF indexing.
I think that is MOST of your problem. As soon as you connect a external drive the OS starts indexing the drive.

Also turn off Search Indexing and use a 3rd part search program. Agent Ransack isn't a bad program and there are many more.
Win 7 Search is a joke being played on us by MS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2011   #8
TheeInferno

Win 7 Home Premium 32 Bit
 
 

Yeah, I've tried turning it off for all, turning it on for all, combinations of off for some but on for others...nothing solves the problem. And it happens in some of the 3rd party software too. (I've only I tried a couple, but will keep experimenting, and check out Agent Ransack). The default for storage in Windows has (to my knowledge) always been that if two files or subfolders with the same name get put into the same folder, you will be asked to merge or overwrite one, but if the same file or subfolder is located in a separate folder, it's no problem. It's so weird to me that this logic behind this is followed in XP, but broken in 7. I was really hoping this was just a setting I could toggle, or that there was some simple, effective registry edit to make Windows treat folder paths as law, and ignore similar folder names when they're on separate drives, but nothing I've tried has worked. I can view trees and partially expand them, but as soon as I try to access the real contents, problems occur :-(
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2011   #9
Shootist

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TheeInferno View Post
Yeah, I've tried turning it off for all, turning it on for all, combinations of off for some but on for others...nothing solves the problem. And it happens in some of the 3rd party software too. (I've only I tried a couple, but will keep experimenting, and check out Agent Ransack). The default for storage in Windows has (to my knowledge) always been that if two files or subfolders with the same name get put into the same folder, you will be asked to merge or overwrite one, but if the same file or subfolder is located in a separate folder, it's no problem. It's so weird to me that this logic behind this is followed in XP, but broken in 7. I was really hoping this was just a setting I could toggle, or that there was some simple, effective registry edit to make Windows treat folder paths as law, and ignore similar folder names when they're on separate drives, but nothing I've tried has worked. I can view trees and partially expand them, but as soon as I try to access the real contents, problems occur :-(
Are you really in Windows Explorer? And not in some type of "Stupid" Library function/folder?
Have you tried opening 2 instances of Explorer and going to the external drive in one instance and the folder you are going to copy to on your internal drive in the other instance?

I'll do a check how my system works with this. I have 2 hard drives that has the exact same install of Windows 7 and all program files. I'll hook one up to a USB post and check.
But I won't be able to that until I get home from work.

Also PLEASE try using the Enter Key to separate your posts (like I have done in this reply). It is hard to follow when everything runs together.
Thanks
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2011   #10
TheeInferno

Win 7 Home Premium 32 Bit
 
 

Thank you very much. I would welcome the news if it turned out to be something stupid, that you can figure out right away in a simulation :-)

I don't really use the library feature in 7, at least not intentionally, but I did consider libraries as a possible culprit, because it's a feature that seems to have been recently added, and on the few occasions when I have tried to navigate around between drives from inside one of those library Windows, it had an odd, (and I thought frustrating) way of organizing things.

The two Explorer alternatives I tried are xplorer2 Lite and Free Commander. They both seemed fine, and I will probably continue using the latter. I will also try the Agent Ransack program mentioned above. I do already use multiple windows when working back and forth, and it seems to help, but doesn't fix it all the way. Maybe all of this will turn out to have an easy fix, that I'm just overlooking as a relative newbie? I hated Vista and never used it, nor had it on any of my machines, so a lot of the features and settings in Windows 7 are still really new to me. I could easily have overlooked something obvious in 7, while teaching myself the basics. Thanks again!
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 Windows Explorer problem, whenever an ext HDD contains Windows folders




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