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System Restore: access the System Volume Information Folder Part I

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Part I on this page:

The System Volume Information folder

How to change folder permission in NTFS

Disable Simple File Sharing


 

The System Volume Information folder

Windows XP comes with a roll back utility called system restore that periodically stores system information from the registry for recovery purposes. By default it uses 12% of the partition space. You can turn it off or reduce the amount of disc space in System Properties, System Restore box. The folder which stores system restore data, System Volume Information (SVI) , is in the root of the system drive and is normally hidden. In NTFS partitions it has all access denied except for the system account. Hence an administrative account user (not the root system administrator) would not be able to open it.

For FAT16 and FAT32 partitions unhiding the folder is sufficient to access it because there is no NTFS permission restriction. In NTFS partitions if you unhide the folder in Windows Explorer, when you mouse over it, it says the folder is empty even when you know it is not (Fig. 1). You cannot even access it from another account or installation as the example here shows: from the Windows XP installation on partition C (NTFS) looking at the SVI folder on another installation on K (NTFS).

Fig. 1

 

When you double click to open it, you see this Access is denied message (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2

 

How to change folder permission in NTFS

The steps are similar for other folders that you wish to change permission in NTFS. You need to change the folder's access control list (ACL). In Windows XP Professional edition you can readily do it via the folder Properties' Security tab. In Windows XP Home edition you need to boot into Safe Mode first where the security tab is available or use the cacls text command in normal mode (see the KB article at the end). Here are the steps to do it via the folder's security options.

Right click the folder icon and choose Properties from the menu (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3

 

The General tab of folder properties shows the file is not empty. Notice there is a Security tab next to the General tab (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4

 

Disable Simple File Sharing

If the Security tab is not visible then untick the Simple File Sharing item in Explorer, Tools, Folder Options, View tab first, click Apply and OK. (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5

 

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