Where is That Application Hiding My Files?

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Ever look at a program and wonder just what was going through the designer's head? Why would a developer need to protect users from the very files they bought the program to create?

Consider the case of Uncle Wayne (not my real uncle; that's just his handle in the PC World Community). All he wanted to do was convert some old VHS recordings to digital, using Diamond's One Touch Video Capture software on his Vista PC.

Windows provides you with a Video folder, and storing videos there is as obvious as putting ice cream in the freezer. But the program instead saved the files to C:\Program Files\One Touch Video Capture\MyVideos. Storing your data (and video files are your data) in the Program Files folder is like storing ice cream in the cupboard with the bowls and spoons--it makes a certain amount of convenient sense as long as you keep your brain off.

But here's the wierd part: According to Windows Explorer, or any other non-Diamond program, there was no C:\Program Files\One Touch Video Capture\MyVideos folder on Uncle Wayne's PC.

Was the folder hidden? No. Wayne set Windows Explorer to display hidden files and folders (press ALT, select Tools, Folder Options, click the View tab, select Show hidden files and folders, and click OK) and it still wasn't there.

Yet Diamond's software could launch and play the files from that location. Had Uncle Wayne entered the Twilight Zone?

Forum regular Piyushsingh figured out what was going on. Vista was placing the files in a hidden location inside Uncle Wayne's AppData\Local\VirtualStore folder, and virtualizing C:\Program Files\One Touch Video Capture\MyVideos so that the Diamond software thought it was there.This is not unlike how Vista treats its Cookies folder.

I asked Diamond for an explanation, and they guessed that Uncle Wayne hadn't downloaded the proper Vista drivers. They confirmed, however, that One Touch Video Capture defaults to saving videos in C:\Program Files\One Touch Video Capture\MyVideos.

On Piyushsingh's suggestion, Uncle Wayne moved the videos to a more reasonable location. And on my suggestion, he changed One Touch's file-saving defaults, as well.

You can read the entire forum discussion here.

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