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Windows 7: Modified dates reset by moving files

12 Dec 2011   #1
Mystery Salad

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Modified dates reset by moving files

Hi this is my first post, I assume this is the right place for this topic.

I've encountered a very serious problem with Windows 7.

It's resetting the modified date on files when I move them.

I noticed this a couple of weeks ago when I moved the contents of my user folder to a different drive.

As a general habit, I used date modified as the sort order for my folders, so after moving everything, I went through the folders and set them up accordingly. Then I noticed that things were out of order and that a lot of the files had had their modified dates reset to the moment they were moved.

I'm mildly terrified of the idea that Windows 7 is capable of pulling a stunt like this.

Does anyone know what causes this, how I can fix the dates that have been changed (it's over 2,000 files), and / or how to prevent this from ever happening again? Is it a bug? It has to be right?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2011   #2
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64


I think the Date Modified is referring to the change in folder structure, since you moved the folder to a new drive. You might be better off viewing your files in Explorer by enabling the Date Created, Date Modified and Date Last Saved options as shown in the image below.

You enable these by right-clicking on the Date Modified (shown as a red cross in the image below), and then selecting More... and scrolling down the list and selecting the options you want. Notice that in the image, these aren't neccessarily the same date.

Try that and see if it sets your mind at ease.


Attached Thumbnails
Modified dates reset by moving files-capture.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2011   #3
Mystery Salad

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hey thanks for the tip, but it didn't work. I enabled date last saved, but for the files in question, the date last saved was identical to the reset modified dates.

Just to be clear though, I was talking about files and not folders (I know that folders dates change when you change their contents and move them).

Here's a screenshot from the properties of one of the files, picked at random:

The file in question is a .jpg that I created on April 14 (so it's created date is still correct), but I never modified it again after that.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011 was when I moved everything. Right after, I noticed that a couple of thousand files suddenly had modified dates of "Wednesday, 9 November 2011, 12:xx:xx AM"
My System SpecsSystem Spec

12 Dec 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


My usual disclaimer: I'm not an expert at anything!

I seem to recall that with earlier operating systems like Windows 98 there was a distinct difference between moving a file or copying a file. Moving a file changed the date(s) associated with that file while copying created an exact image with no changes to its dates. I was also told that copying was safer than moving because the original file remained intact. A person could verify the contents of the copied file and then delete the original. Yes, it was few extra steps but it supposedly protected the integrity of the original file better than just moving it. Maybe with Windows 7 it's a moot point.


BTW: welcome to Seven Forums Mystery Salad!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2011   #5
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1

True, Windows recognizes moving a file as a modification.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2011   #6
Mystery Salad

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hey thanks for the responses. I have to go to bed now but I'll post again tomorrow.

Also, a piece of information that I really should have mentioned in the original post but which I forgot that the time:
The date modified reset thing is actually SEMI-RANDOM. While the modified dates reset for MOST of the files, it didn't reset for all of them. I'll check the numbers tomorrow but I think it was 80% that were reset. And it's not like any of the files were treated differently by me when I moved them, they were all moved in one operation. So regardless of Windows' rules for copying vs moving, why the inconsistency?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2011   #7

Windows 10 Pro (x64)

What security software are you running? The only thing that changes on my computer are folder modified dates, none of the files.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2012   #8
Mystery Salad

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by logicearth View Post
What security software are you running? The only thing that changes on my computer are folder modified dates, none of the files.
Bump? :S Sorry for late response. I just have Windows Security Essentials.
Yes, I know that folder dates change all the time, that's never confused me. But I've never had a file's modified date change (in all the years I was using XP, anyway) unless I've resaved it manually.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Britton30 View Post
True, Windows recognizes moving a file as a modification.
No it doesn't. When you copy a file (ctrl+c, ctrl+v), the created date changes but not the modified date. When you move a file (ctrl+x, ctrl+v), the created date remains the same and so does the modified date. Either way, the modified date doesn't change.

That's how XP works at least. In my experience, Windows 7 works exactly the same 99% of the time, except in the freaky situation that prompted me to start the thread. Whatever the reason may be, I can't describe it as anything other than a "bug", because it doesn't happen consistently, and it resets the modified dates semi-randomly (i.e. doesn't do it to all files in the same move operation, just 80% of them.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2012   #9
Mystery Salad

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Sorry for the bump, but I'm really curious to see if someone out there might have any idea what caused this? Anyone?

I was also wondering if there may exist some program that could batch-process-correct the reset modified dates on all the affected files by copying the date created attribute to date modified. I'm guessing probably not, but it's still worth asking just in case.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2012   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Often enough, I save web pages and download programs to the c:\ drive downloads folder. Several hours later after the internet session is ended, the files are moved to a different drive. Timestamps on these files reflect time of creation on c:\ drive. Where a folder is created, such as html's, timestamps reflect the time of move, as the folder is created in the different drive.

There were occasions when the timestamps of the contents in the folder showed the same as the folder, a wholesale change. I, too, was shocked at the modification. There were files created several years back and hadn't been modified prior to the move. I look at one of those files and can't wax nostalgic because the timestamp is recent. And to pile on, the modified date is earlier than the created date, reflecting an earlier move! Thus, a CD rip few years back reflect recent timestamps. My audio library is like that. Unfortunately, I don't recall the various details that led to the change. But it involved the operating system, either a reinstall or the use of a different PC. Folders were moved as a precautionary backup, not part of a backup process or a recovery process, since they were already on an external drive!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Modified dates reset by moving files

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