Windows Vista/7 File System Virtualization

Along with User Account Control, Windows Vista and Windows 7 use file system and registry virtualization to improve compatibility with applications which break Windows development security guidelines. If an application attempts to write to a disallowed location (such as the root directory, or Program Files), the file is silently relocated under %localappdata%/VirtualStore.

So, if you're running an older application and you can't figure out where it stored its files (e.g. DVD Decrypter, as in my case), look under:


This MSDN page has an excellent summary of file and registry virtualization (search the page for "virtualization").

About Jeff Fitzsimons

Jeff Fitzsimons is a software engineer in the California Bay Area. Technical specialties include C++, Win32, and multithreading. Personal interests include rock climbing, cycling, motorcycles, and photography.
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