Removing Vista System Directories

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jimi1337

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Jul 16, 2006
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Several months ago I installed a Vista beta (build 5384 sounds about right). After I had my fill of yummy, shiny Aero, I decided to go back to good ol' XP Pro. Vista had been installed on a second hard drive used for media storage, so switching back was no problem. The issue is this (and I'm assuming a lot here, so forgive me if I'm way off): there are several system-critical directories in the root of the drive (Docs and Setts, Users, ProgramData, etc.) that I cannot seem to delete for the life of me. I believe this to be due to the fact that Vista supports longer (deeper) folder paths than XP. In this case, it appears as M$ has intentionally blocked access to these directories by burying a folder just slightly over the XP limit. Short of just formatting the drive or installing Vista on another drive to access the one in question (a possibility I'd be willing to entertain if it would guarantee results), any thoughts?
 

Squashman

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Are you getting an Access denied error when trying to access them from your XP os. If so, try taking ownership of the files and then deleting them.
 

jimi1337

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Jul 16, 2006
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Ah, that reminds me of the strangest part: I can't. Well, for instance, I can change permissions on the Users folder, but the properties window for Documents and Settings has no security tab! The few .ini files and such lying around that I was able to take ownership of deleted okay, but no such luck with any of the directories. The exact error, which I forgot to mention, is just the standard "Access is denied. Make sure the disk is not full..." Unlocker, a handy utility which works flawlessly when used to delete files which are in use reports "no locking handle found" in regard to the Vista directories, whatever that means.

Also, some files/folders are hidden and/or marked as read-only. After taking ownership of the Users folder I attempted to remove the read-only attribute, but it returned after I re-opened the properties dialog. ProgramData and Docs, the two hidden folders of which I cannot take ownership are telling me they are completely empty, which I know to be a lie. By the way, I thought there were a few more, but these three folders appear to be the last of the Vista clutter. It's not as if it's a security risk, and it's consuming only the tiniest, most insignificant corner of my HD, but I'm way too anal to see that junk every time I glance in the root of D.

Of course, I tried safe mode as well as ERD Commander 2003 and 2005, but I was only disappointed again. One other possibility: is there anything akin to a "recovery console" in any of the Vista builds?
 
Joined
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What are you trying to do? Are you trying to back up your files or delete Vista? If you're trying to back up or move the files, can you access them in Vista and then move them to your XP partition using Vista?

Just format the drive if you want to get rid of Vista. :)
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
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Point to the directory you want to remove, right-click -> properties -> security -> advanced. Then select username you are working under, then click "Edit" button, check "Full Control" checkbox, select Apply onto "this folder, subfolder and files" or something similiar. Click OK where's available. Then you can safely and errorless to delete Vista' directories.
 

jimi1337

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Jul 16, 2006
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Thanks for your suggestion, pedalkin, but I've actually already tried that. Also tried changing the owner, removing all permissions etc. with no success. I've finally deleted the ProgData and Users directories (the two that, in fact, had security tabs) with the aforementioned "Unlocker" [softpedia.com] app. The only remaining directory, Docs and Settings, has no security tab in its properties sheet. I also tried changing the read-only and hidden status of the folder, only to have the checkboxes re-enabled after refreshing the properties. Unlocker even has an option to attempt deletion "on next reboot", which... didn't work either :(
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
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Jim,
I also have the same prob...If I get there first I will post you in hopes you will post me if you get there first.

Spacejunk
 
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