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Control Windows Explorer F5 Function

Posted on 2010-08-26
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hello Experts,

I have a real time application which we have tuned extensively to run under windows in real time under a variety of different system conditions and simultaneous with other applications.  The one application that still doesn't "play nice" with our application is Windows Explorer.  

One problem with Windows Explorer have been identified as the use of the F5 key.  The application can be made to crash if a user opens the folder where the application is creating files and presses F5 repeatedly.  

My question is - can the F5 function be disabled within the Operating System controls somewhere?  Thanks
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Question by:markdolar
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Expert Comment

by:Cluskitt
ID: 33535740
I don't think you can disable it, but you can probably trap it before it reaches windows explorer.
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Expert Comment

by:Lukasz Chmielewski
ID: 33535855
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Assisted Solution

by:ufriends
ufriends earned 200 total points
ID: 33536384
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Expert Comment

by:jcimarron
ID: 33536905
markdolar--Why is the F5 key being pressed repeatedly?  
Also F5 performs differently depending on whether F-Lock is on or off.
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Author Comment

by:markdolar
ID: 33537381
Thank you all for your comments -

The issue is one of contention for kernel mode CPU, I believe.   I should clarify that the application I am trying to manage is Windows Explorer, not IE.  Neither application (ours or WE) involves a browser.  The F5, pressed without the F-Lock engaged, requests a screen refresh of information like last update time, file size, etc, for the files shown in the window.

Second point I should clarify is that I don't really think I have to hit F5 multiple times to get my application to fail, I just need to hit it at the right moment.   Our application is writing several files after doing some DMA transfers and if we can't update files (and file header information through the Windows file system) quickly enough, then the application can fail.  We have multiple threads in our app and I think when a certain thread is trying to do something and Windows Explorer is also trying to do something at the same time (like update a screen display), that Windows Explorer wins.  My guess is that both are trying to access file header information at the same time.  Our application is wriiting a file, so it will need to lock the header briefly, I suppose.

Key remapping is an OK option, but has limitations since this application may be running on a machine that is foreign to us.  What I am looking for is a way to disable the F5 function in Windows Explorer, since that is the only function within the program that I've found that can cause our application to fail.  

My "Nuclear Option", if you will, is to disable Windows Explorer completely.  Our application runs fine with WE not running, but some folks don't know how to navigate a Windows OS using just the task manager.  

Thanks Again
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by:Cluskitt
ID: 33539783
What happens, most likely, is that the file you're trying to write to is locked by windows (explorer locks files while it tries to read header information).
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Author Comment

by:markdolar
ID: 33543003
I think that hypothesis is correct, but how do I prevent it short of turning off Windows Explorer?
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by:Cluskitt
ID: 33543092
The lock is usually just for a few seconds. You could:
a) Lock all the files yourself, in advance, then unlock them as you are finished.
b) Check if there's a lock on the file you're about to open. If there is, sleep for a second and try again. Once there's no lock, you can open it.

b) seems the most easy to implement, a) would be overkill (and could probably hang the user's explorer. Serves them right!! HA!!! :D)
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Author Comment

by:markdolar
ID: 33549219
It is a real time process; hanging the explorer session would be ok, hanging the application not so good.

Might be worth trying to lock the files completely in our application, but I suspect the problem is more with MFT updates.   If it is contention for the MFT, then locking the files probably won't help.
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Accepted Solution

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Cluskitt earned 300 total points
ID: 33549421
It's not likely to be MFT. Refresh only does a read of it, not write. Windows just locks all files in a folder when you enter/refresh, until it reads the headers of all. A good example of this is a folder full of avi/mpeg, when you have a few tag fields selected (like duration, bitrate, etc). When you enter/refresh, windows locks all files, and slowly fills in the details, unlocking as it goes.
If you try to delete a file that still has no info, it will say it's being used. If you delete it once the info is read, then you're good.

As I said, try to lock the files. Be sure to add options for when the file is already locked (possibly by F5 abuse) so you can lock it later. If that solves it, good. If not, well, it was worth a shot. :)
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by:markdolar
ID: 33708430
thanks
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