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Windows XP SP3 "Search for Files and Folders" does not include SystemRoot?

Posted on 2009-05-17
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I have a file C:\WINDOWS\system32\sc.exe on multiple PC's within the same domain.

Strange behaviour of Windows (file) Explorer's "Search for Files and Folders":

a) Expected behaviour (on multiple PCs):
When I right-click the folder C:\Windows\system32, select "Search...", enter "sc.exe" (without the ") in the "Search for files and folders named:" field, verify that "Look in:" is "system32", and click "Search Now", this easily finds "sc.exe" (in addition to a couple of other files with name *sc.exe).
If I perform the exact same search but on C:\Windows (instead of C:\Windows\system32), this also finds the "sc.exe" (located in C:\Windows\sytsem32) in addition to a number of other files with name *sc.exe.
So far so good!

b) Unexpected behaviour (on multiple PCs):
When I perform the exact same search as above, but on C:\, this does not find the files under C:\Windows

Of course there may be a good explanation of this, I just can't figure it out.

I have IE 8 (8.0.6001.18702) installed, but I can not say this has anything to do with the behaviour (nor if the problem exist on computers without IE8).
I have ensured that the Windows (file) explorer is configured to "Display the contents of system folders", "Show hidden files and folders", and not "Hide protected operating system files", nor "Remember each folder's view settings", and I have applied this to all folders.

Some of the machine variables are:
Path=C:\WINDOWS\system32;C:\WINDOWS;C:\WINDOWS\System32\Wbem
SystemRoot=C:\WINDOWS
windir=C:\WINDOWS

Indexing is disabled (so searching should be complete, but maybe slower).

User is member of local "Administrators" group.

The behaviour is seen on multiple PCs - if not all(?) - within the domain. I can not for sure state this is the same on all PCs, but at least the ones I have access to.

Could it be a group policy restriction, and if so which?
Do you know what cause the above behaviour(s) and eventually what to do to alwayss have the search include SystemRoot?
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Question by:slemmesmi
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4 Comments
 
LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:akahan
ID: 24409601
Could it be that on the systems where it does not find it, "search system folders" is not checked in your advanced search options?

If "search system folders" is not checked, and you start your search in c:\, it won't look in c:\windows or c:\windows\system32, because they're system folders.  But if you start your search in a system folder, it'll ignore the fact that you haven't checked the box (at least for the system folder that you specified and its children), because you obviously DO want to search system folders because you've specified to start your search in one.

So, my bet is that you have "search system folders" checked on some of those machines, but not others.
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LVL 11

Author Comment

by:slemmesmi
ID: 24526041
You are absolutely right!
When I select (check) "Advanced Options" it shows me 3 default (already checked) options:
(1) Search system folders
(2) Search hidden files
(3) Search Subfolders

What puzzles me now is how to make the "Advanced Options" chosen/selected by default or in other words, if the 3 options above are already checked, how to make them effective as per default?

Not least - pretty sure this was the case prior to XP SP3...
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LVL 26

Accepted Solution

by:
akahan earned 2000 total points
ID: 24526492
For me, there is a button under "Other Search Options" that says ""Change Preferences".   If I select this, and then select "Change files and folders search behavior," the settings I enter under "Change files and folders search behavior" become the default settings.

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LVL 11

Author Closing Comment

by:slemmesmi
ID: 31582494
Thanks a lot!
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