Sunday, March 30, 2008

Imaginary Files

Today, I was doing some work with GIMP on my Windows Vista laptop. When I went to save an image, I noticed a folder in the Program Files directory named HTTP-Tunnel. I guess this was a leftover folder from when I uninstalled the program of the same name earlier this month. So, seeing how the GIMP file browser isnt capable of deleting files and folders, I opened up Explorer and navigated in the folders direction.

To my surprise, the folder wasnt there! To confirm it wasnt an issue with GIMP, I started Notepad and tried to navigate to C:\Program Files\HTTP-Tunnel, only to have Notepad complain that the path didnt exist. Next, I opened a command prompt and ran the dir command on Program Files, which also claimed that the folder didnt exist. My next thought was that HTTP-Tunnel had been mistakenly classified as an imfamous super-hidden file, a junction, or something of the same behavior. To make sure, I ran dir again with the A flag ("dir /A" displays all the special file system objects that are usually skipped over in order to keep average users in the dark about special OS-related functions and the likes). This also didnt bring up any trace of the directory.

My final thought was that GIMP was using some sort of cached display to spare the program from having to repopulate the directory view so many times. This was easily proven wrong when I browsed to HTTP-Tunnel in the GIMP explorer and found it contained a text file. I searched my C: drive for the uniquely named log file, and came back with one result. Apparently, there was a folder in C:\Users\Blake\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files named HTTP-Tunnel, which contained the file in question. I deleted the folder, and lo and behold, the folder vanished from GIMP.

Im not sure yet why, but Vista seems to sometimes save copies of files, folders, or entire directory trees in C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Local\VirtualStore. Ill have to look further into it, but my guess is this is where files that are accessed a lot are temporarily stored to be found easier by programs, or where data is moved on special occassions when you delete things from the Recycle Bin.

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