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Windows 7: Hard drive permissions

29 May 2016   #11

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 + Linux Mint

Windows security settings focus more on Windows ability to read and write to the HDD, the programmers didn't spend nearly as much time on the user aspect of it as they should have. That being said, the solution to accessing folders and files is as simple as removing then re-adding one checkmark. Here's how:

First, if you are having trouble with a folder created by Windows install, e.g.:
Boot | Program Files | Program Files (x86) | System Volume Information | Windows
I do NOT recommend using the following instructions directly as those folders require a slightly different touch.

That being said, there is a rather simple solution to your problem. I am going to be thorough while getting to the method I discovered on my own. If you have already taken ownership and given yourself full access and don't want to follow all my steps, you can jump right to my solution in step 3.
Otherwise here's the details, step by step:

1. First let's set the Current owner permissions:
  • Right click on the drive you want to work on
  • Select Properties.
  • Select the Security tab
  • In the lower right click Advanced.
  • Click the Owner tab
  • Click Edit.
    • Now, setting the owner to your <username> isn't ideal for future access (think reinstalling windows). So we're going to set it to something more futureproof: Administrators -- like this:
  • Locate the box Change owner to
  • select Administrators
  • Now toward the bottom, you'll see the line Replace owner on subcontainers and objects. Put a mark in the box to the left of that line.
  • Click OK --enough times to close the windows Opened in this section.

2. Lets set the drive users to something futureproof as well.
*This step is related to One last fact at the end of this post
  • Right click on the drive you want to work on
  • Select Properties.
  • Select the Security tab
  • In the lower right click Advanced.
  • Select Change Permissions...
  • If you plan to return this drive to another computer, leave Permission entries that have numbers, otherwise
  • Click the Remove button for all other entries
  • Select Add...
  • Type Users and press Enter
  • In the Permission Entry window, click in the box aligned with Full control and Allow and press Enter
  • Mark the line that reads Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object
  • Any errors you get just keep going.
  • Click OK --enough times to close the windows Opened in this section.
3. Now let's target the specific folder you're having trouble with.
  • Right click on the folder you want to work on
  • Select Properties.
  • Select the Security tab
  • In the lower right click Advanced.
  • Select Change Permissions...
  • Remove the checkmark from the line that reads Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent
  • In the Windows Security window that pops up, select Remove
  • Put the checkmark back in the line that reads Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent
  • Click OK
    • A Windows Security dialogue will start setting files (duration depends on number of files). Take note of any errors you receive. Open a text file and type as much information as possible about any directory or file that errors out, I will cover this in section 4.
  • The Advanced Security Settings for <foldername> window should now show an accurate account of what user(s) and or groups have access to the folder. If Users isn't listed, then Select Change Permissions and add it with full control, as outlined in the middle of step 2.
  • Click OK --enough times to close the windows Opened in this section.
If you had no error messages, you should now have full access to your files in the folder you edited. Repeat the process for any other folders as you see fit. If you did get errors, and you were smart and took notes, you'll have to continue to step 4.

4. There are 3 common reasons for errors at this point.
  1. A subdirectory/folder or file does NOT Include inheritable permissions from object's parent
  2. Filenames containing illegal characters
  3. Paths that are too long -- as a result of a copy process that followed looping junction.
4.1 A subfolder or file was marked to NOT Include inherritable permissions from object's parent fix:
  • Right click on the folder or file that is not allowing access.
    • Unfortunately Microsoft removed the ability to see the security tab when multiple folders and/or files are selected; which I find very irritating, so you'll have to do them one at a time.
  • Select Properties
  • Select the Security tab
  • Select Advanced
  • Select Change Permissions...
  • Place a mark in front of the line that reads Include inheritable permissions from the object's parent
    • Again make sure Users has full Permissions
  • Click OK --enough times to close the windows Opened in this section.
4.2 Filenames containing illegal characters.
This can happen for many reasons, one of which I found on my drive today as a result of my HDD being access by another OS. Not all Operating Systems care about Microsoft's NTFS restrictions. Anyhow after trying a lot of ideas, I found one that definitely works, and it involves getting a useful program in the process.
  • Download and install Recuvia from
    • This is a safe, free program made by the same people who make CCleaner. It's designed to search for and recover deleted files on all types of drives, and it works very well.
  • Start Recuvia select Next >
  • In the File type area, toward the bottom, select Other
  • In the File location area, toward the bottom, select In a specific location
  • Select Browse...
  • Navagate to the Folder that you know has the files containing illegal characters
  • Select Next >
  • Select Start then immediately select Cancel
  • In the upper right of the Recuvia window, select Switch to advanced mode
  • In the upper right select Options...
  • Select the Actions tab
  • Place a mark in front of the line that reads Scan for non-deleted files (for recovery from damaged or reformatted disks)
    • You'll want to remove this option later if want to use Recuvia for it's intended purpose.
  • Click OK
  • Click Scan
    • This can take awhile, be patient.
  • Select the Problem files for Recovery by placing a checkmark in front of the Filename
  • Select Recover...
  • Navigate to a folder you know you have Write Permissions to, preferably a different drive and select OK
  • Using a new Explorer window; navigate to your files, and you will see the illegal characters have been replaced, in my case with underscores.
  • Repeat this for any other files you may have encountered with illegal characters before continuing
  • As far as removing the source files with illegal characters, I only know of using Check Disk to do so. It may place them in a recovery folder or it may delete them, it's a tossup.
4.3 Directory paths that are crazy long.
  • Navate to the folder that contains a really long path and follow the path all the way to the end
  • Now back up about 10 or so directory levels with the Back to arrow in the upper left of Explorer
  • Right click on the directory/folder name you've backed up to and select Properties
  • Select the Sharing tab
  • Select Advanced Sharing...
  • Select the box Share this folder
    • Take note of the Share name
  • Select Permissions
  • Under Permissions for Everyone, Select the box under Allow in line with Full Control
  • Click OK --enough times to close the windows you used to share this directory/folder
  • Using a new Explorer window, Open your Network, and find the share you just created
  • Enter the share and look for files.
    • If there are any files or folders you wish to keep, you can copy them from here to a new location. What is not copied will be lost in the next step.
  • Within the shared folder (e.g. \\<computername>\<sharename>) navigate one directory in and you should be able to delete the tail end of directories in this share.
    • If you get a path too long error, you shared a path too long and need to share fewer levels.
  • Close the window you opened to access the Network share
  • The folder you shared should still be right there
  • Right click on the same directory/folder name you shared before and select Properties
  • Select the Sharing tab
  • Select Advanced Sharing...
  • Remove the checkmark from the box for Share this folder
    • This is very important as Windows will annoyingly keep a share to a dead folder.
  • It's likely you will have to repeat the above steps several times before you delete enough of the path to remove the error. --Good Luck

This long path condition occurs when Microsoft Windows follows a looping junction while copying a directory structure. Shamefully, this is another bad choice by Microsoft; and, Microsoft is solely to blame. Not only for it's existence, but Microsoft's unwillingness to resolve the issue.

First the Copy command is allowed to follow a junction in a loop condition. The resulting copied file structure; with it's repeated path, winds up so deep that no Microsoft program can directly resolve the outcome.
Second, the junction loop in question exists on every single Windows 7 installation out there, and it's by design!!!
You can view the error for yourself, go to your home folder C:\Users\<yourusername> . Inside your home folder, you'll see all the folders you're familiar with, like Documents, Music, Pictures, etc.. At the top of the Explorer window, to the right of the Back/Forward arrows; is the Address bar. Click in it, and after your name, add the following path \Appdata\Local -- In the Local folder, is a Junction. It's probably hidden but it's there. It's called Applicaton Data. You can't follow it in Explorer; but software can, including the Copy command. This junction points back to the parent folder AppData, creating an infinite loop. The junction is there for programs written for the XP file structure. If Microsoft was willing to fix it, the fix would be simple. It's copy command would copy the actual junction itself, and not follow it.

One last fact:
The account Authenticated User is a security risk. Think of it as Authenticated Network User. By default, Microsoft adds the account Authenticated User to all hard drives. The problem is by definition, this account grants access to any user authenticated on your network. So if someone gains access to a computer somewhere else on your network, Authenticated User permissions will allow them to move from that computer to yours.
The solution is to change all occurrences of Authenticated User to Users. Just use the Advanced Security Settings (outlined above) to Edit and Change... all Authenticated User entries to User -- This will merge some permissions; fact is, as far as safe computing goes, they were already merged from a logical standpoint.
Thank you and have a nice life!

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 Hard drive permissions

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