Strange Documents and Settings Folder

I had a Windows 10 computer blow up on me and the user needed his data from it so I took the hard drive out and put in in a USB docking station on my computer. It came in as drive G:. So I fired up Rich Copy and started copying the entire drive to a flash drive.

   All of a sudden I see it copying mass amount of files from a "Documents and Settings" folder yet when I opened drive G: it was no where to be found. I went in to Control Panel => File Explorer options and un-checked "Hide Protected Operating System files. Lo and Behold when I opened drive G: this time there is a "Document and Settings" folder. It has a arrow on it like it is a shortcut. Does the arrow mean it is a short cut and if so how can you tell what it is a short cut too?
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LockDown32OwnerAsked:
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Dr. KlahnConnect With a Mentor Principal Software EngineerCommented:
"Documents and Settings" is where the settings, configurations and personal files for each individual user are stored.  It is part of Windows and is a protected folder.
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Andrew LeniartConnect With a Mentor Senior EditorCommented:
I'm writing this from memory of past experiences I've struck. It sounds like an upgraded system from Windows XP or 7 to me, and it's retained some of the previous folder settings. Clicking on that link would usually take you to C:\Users folder (or a subfolder in that) when clicked in Windows 10 from memory. It's where you will find all your Documents, Downloads etc. folders.

Hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew
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Russ SuterConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Wait a second, "Documents and Settings" was the folder location for settings, configurations, and personal files in Windows 7. This folder shouldn't exist for Windows 10. Windows 10 stores such things in either the hidden "ProgramData" folder, or the "C:\Users" directory.

Right click on the folder and select "Properties". That should tell you quite a bit about the object.
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Andrew LeniartConnect With a Mentor Senior EditorCommented:
Wait a second, "Documents and Settings" was the folder location for settings, configurations, and personal files in Windows 7.
Agreed Russ. That's why I suggested it was probably a machine that had been "upgraded" to Windows 10 and retained some of the old folder structure in the form of Links.
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Dr. KlahnConnect With a Mentor Principal Software EngineerCommented:
What is "Windows 10"?

B)
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Russ SuterConnect With a Mentor Commented:
What is "Windows 10"?
OK, you're trolling us, right?
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LockDown32OwnerAuthor Commented:
Andrew is close. It was an upgrade from Windows 7 (where profiles were kept in C:\Documents and Settings) to Windows 10 where the profiles are kept in C:\Users. So the upgrade should have moved profiles from C:\Documents and Settings to C:\Users.

   That is throwing me is the shortcut symbol on that Documents and Settings folder. I would think it would point to C:\Users but it doesn't.  It is a folder of it's own. The short arrow is throwing me.

   That "Arrow" is in Windows 10 on my computer. If I open up C:\Users the "All Users" and "Default User" has arrows on them. What dows that arrow signify?
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Andrew LeniartConnect With a Mentor Senior EditorCommented:
LockDown32,

Can you take a screenshot of that arrow so we can see exactly what you're looking at?
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LockDown32OwnerAuthor Commented:
Here you go. This is my computer. Clean install...... same arrows as on the other hard drive but only if "Hide Protected Operating System files" is un-checked...
Capture.PNG
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Andrew LeniartConnect With a Mentor Senior EditorCommented:
Thanks, LockDown, that Capture is very helpful to know exactly what you're referring to.

The arrows are as I suspected, just shortcut links pointing to other other folders. If you click the "My Documents" one for example, you "should" end up at C:\Users\<Profile Name>\Documents, but because this was an upgrade, all the folders are a bit convoluted. (As in all over the place due to the upgrade process) None of that exists on a clean install of Windows 10. Here's my Windows 10 Users folder for comparison.

Users Folder Windows 10
That grab is from a clean Win10 install - no upgrade, nothing "hidden" or altered. It's as it existed after installing, besides my adding another profile.  (Both of my profile names have been blurred out)

I wouldn't go deleting those shortcut pointers and just leave them alone, as it may interfere with the way the Win10 upgrade configured the system. Really, the only safe way to get rid of them is to backup data, format and reinstall Windows 10 and then re-install any programs and also the backed up data.
Does the arrow mean it is a short cut and if so how can you tell what it is a short cut too?
Tried right clicking them and selecting Properties?

Hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew
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David Johnson, CD, MVPConnect With a Mentor OwnerCommented:
what you are seeing is a hard link that is used for program compatibility with older software
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LockDown32OwnerAuthor Commented:
That is why I kept calling them "Shortcut Arrows" but the real question is (this shortcut or any other) how do you determine where the shortcut points? On program shortcuts you can look at the properties and tell. On these "Folder Shortcuts" you can't.

   FYI the original shortcut I was talking about on the "Documents and Settings" folder did not open up the "Users" folder. It appeared to be a folder on its own why kind of brought up the question as to why the shortcut icon was even there in the first place.

   Even on my Windows 10 I can open C:\Users, then at that point the shortcut to "Application Data" yields a "Location is not available -
 Access Denied". When you turn on "Hide Protected Operating System Files" these "shortcuts disappear. Something "special" about these folder shortcuts. David what is a "hard link"?
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Shaun VermaakConnect With a Mentor Technical Specialist/DeveloperCommented:
You need to exclude junction folders. You can do this with robocopy's /XJ option
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LockDown32OwnerAuthor Commented:
Well.... as mentioned above it doesn't really appear to be a shortcut to someplace else. David called it a "Hard Link" and you are calling it a "Junction Folder". Neat terms but what to they actually mean?
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Andrew LeniartConnect With a Mentor Senior EditorCommented:
Hard Link isn't a term I've heard before, but a Junction Link works like an email alias. The folder doesn't really exist, just like with an email alias, the email account doesn't really exist, it just redirects to a valid email address.

Junction links just redirect to another folder internally in the operating system. It's an NTFS feature. I call these shortcut links, but probably incorrectly :)

They're often very handy in server scenarios, where you may be using a piece of software that isn't network aware and requires a local folder, but you want to store its data on a server or NAS drive. A Junction point, shortcut link, hard link, (whatever you choose to call them) can fool the software into thinking its reading data from a local folder, when really the data is stored on a network drive.

Make sense?

Lots more info here if interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_junction_point

Although as you can see, wiki has decided to call them junction "points". They all mean the same thing to me <g>

Hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew
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LockDown32OwnerAuthor Commented:
This keeps going around in a circle :) So we are back to calling it a shortcut with the same unanswered question........ how can you tell where the shortcut points to? The actual folder ?
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Andrew LeniartConnect With a Mentor Senior EditorCommented:
This keeps going around in a circle :)

Sorry LockDown32, I didn't mean to make you dizzy ;)

Give this a try - it should give you the info you need.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/junction

Also read the following web page (Look at answer 28) for a list of DOS commands you can try.

https://superuser.com/questions/823959/how-to-view-all-the-symbolic-links-junction-points-hard-links-in-a-folder-using

Answer 1 on the above page, (you'll need to scroll down) also gives a powershell method of viewing the type, link and target.

Hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew
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David Johnson, CD, MVPConnect With a Mentor OwnerCommented:
there are hardlinks and junction links

mklink /j name directory
mklink /h name filename

https://www.howtogeek.com/howto/16226/complete-guide-to-symbolic-links-symlinks-on-windows-or-linux/

Get-ChildItem -Path 'c:\' -Recurse -Force | ?{$_.LinkType} | Select-Object -Pro

Open in new window


https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa365006(v=vs.85).aspx
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LockDown32OwnerAuthor Commented:
They Sysinternals junction did at least show what the junctions were and where they pointed. Sure seems like there would be an easier way...... thanks guys.
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