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  • “You don’t currently have permission to access this folder.”

    Posted by Jonathan on March 29th, 2013 (All posts by )

    My opinion on Windows 7 has soured considerably. Its permissioning system is terrible and has cost me a lot of time in trying to make external hard drives readable. No doubt permissioning functions as designed. The problem is the user interface. Most users of Windows 7 Home Premium are running one computer or a home network and don’t need to restrict file access. For them there should be a conspicuous button on the file-sharing or security tab of the Properties window that overrides permissioning for a file, folder or drive. Otherwise if you do something like try to read an external HD that you formerly used as an internal HD in another Windows computer you get permission errors and have to perform complex tasks to make the drive readable. This is like requiring all drivers to type a numeric combination and blow into a breathalyzer before they can start their cars — after first googling around for instructions. The fact that a small subset of users needs a particular feature is no reason to impose that feature on all users.

     

    19 Responses to ““You don’t currently have permission to access this folder.””

    1. Mike K Says:

      I worked for a company that did workers comp claim reviews for 12 years. It was a big networked outfit with nurses working from home and staff in an office. It used a version of Windows Enterprise edition with a lot of add-ons for viewing documents, etc. The young man who ran the entire IT department did so with a Mac laptop. I thought that significant.

    2. PenGun Says:

      I quit using windose at NT 4.0. NT 3.51 would mostly do what I wanted it too.

      I switched to Linux and have never looked back. I fix all the computers around here and I usually just hook up the drive to my Linux machine and set whatever tags I want on the drive.

      I have a windose partition I use for games but anyone who has to rely on windose has my sympathy.

    3. Bill Brandt Says:

      I think Microsoft took the brute force approach when it came to file security. The few times I have used Win7 I get irritated when it keeps asking me if I want to do something I told it to do.

      I have stayed with XP – the company where I work still has XP….I’ll bet it would be surprising to know how many companies – large and small – still are on XP.

    4. Jonathan Says:

      I need Mac or 64 bit Windows for the software I use. Otherwise I would be happy with XP. I may buy a Mac one day, but probably the current path of least resistance is to figure out my Windows file permissions.

    5. setbit Says:

      I think your expectations are unrealistic, Jonathan.

      Taking a system drive out and installing it as a secondary drive in another computer is about as complicated as pulling a dishwasher out and installing it in another kitchen. Not fundamentally difficult, but the kind of thing that might require assistance if you have limited experience with plumbing and electrical.

      Or, to use your analogy, swapping drives isn’t like starting your car; it’s more like changing the plugs in your car. If you don’t know how to do it and aren’t sure how to find out, maybe you shouldn’t.

      File permissions can be a pain, but you’re wrong if you think you don’t need them.

    6. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces Says:

      }}} I think Microsoft took the brute force approach when it came to file security.

      Windows to the “Our programmers have no fucking clue what the hell they are doing” approach to not just file security, but pretty much everything else there is in the system.

      Windows NT used to crash steadily in **Windows** Explorer. I took to renaming it to “Exploder” on systems I was responsible for (I was usually the only one who used it, mind you). Near as I could see, at least one major cause of that triggered the BSODs came because you’d deleted a file in one process and Exploder didn’t update properly with the new information.

      Rather than finesse the thing — actually figure out a mechanism for letting the system know a file change had occurred and it needed to re-read the structure in a certain area (as opposed to re-reading the whole file structure) — they chose to re-read the entire file structure. This is why right-clicks take an eternity to pop up, because it’s reading every #%$@Y^%$% thing on the hard drive on a constant basis, and one reason why certain ops take an eternity of time just to allow you to do a simple click action that SHOULD take a fraction of a second.

      So, yes, the “brute force” approach is what they applied. When a sledgehammer is the only tool in your tool box, it’s amazing how often it is used to kill cockroaches and ants… and why it is that you have to reboot regularly when the whole house is full of giant %$^#^% holes from the sledgehammer.

      I recall an advert for M$ that bragged about how “That really, seriously smart tech person you know? They work for Microsoft now.”

      I think it left off the part where all noob employees got multiple pre-frontal lobotomies, absolutely free of charge… and were required to get them by their employment contract.

      LOLZ.

    7. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces Says:

      ARRGH.
      “Windows to…” == “Windows took…”

    8. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces Says:

      }}} I think your expectations are unrealistic, Jonathan.

      LOLZ, I thoroughly disagree. Unless a system has been SET UP to be secure in the first place (which is almost never the case with a home system, nor is there all that much reason to do so for most users) there is no reason whatsoever why an HD should not be much more than plug-and-play.

      Certainly, that’s the way I’ve always found it to be. Granted, my tech knowledge is higher than many, but the only complication I’ve ever noted is that a new HD — if it has a system partition on it — will often move the CD/DVD/BR player from its “default” “D:” drive and that can mess with some programs that kind of assume it’s in “D:”. I long ago took it to be a good idea that the base setup for the CD/DVD/BR should be moved to a fixed location on general principles — no drive should be “defaulted” in a positioning scheme.

      The biggest complication I’ve ever found for that is placing the partitions on the added drive into appropriate places, part of which is labeling each volume recognizably (ex: a 1tb drive partition I’d name “1kdrivep” to show it is the “p:” partition on the 1000gb drive). Then I know which partitions are which no matter which system I put the drive into. Note: I’ve tried “naming” the drive partitions by initial purpose but inevitably find the purposes get changed or mixed at some point, at which point it’s pointless.

    9. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces Says:

      }}} I need Mac or 64 bit Windows for the software I use. Otherwise I would be happy with XP. I may buy a Mac one day, but probably the current path of least resistance is to figure out my Windows file permissions.

      Just switch to Linux, which will ease any transition in the future to Android, rather than the Mac.

      Apple is using its fascist NIH attitude to once more kill itself. It almost died once already. Jobs returned and saved their asses by creating a stream of revenue-enhancing products that kept them afloat. Jobs is gone, and, barring maybe one more product in the pipelines, I don’t see them doing anything but fading into history like they were for most of the 1990s.

      I will predict that Windows 9 will be the last release of Windows of any significance at all. The future market is in tablets and smart phones (and whatever follows those). And the dislike and distrust of M$ among tech people (i.e., “first adopters”) is too great for the Windows phone to ever be anything but a niche level product much like the Blackberry. So Microsoft’s hold on the future of computing is broken, in favor of Android. Microsoft missed the boat a second time (the first time was the internet browser), and this time their competition wasn’t “Can’t We All Get Along?” Netscape but the equally market-savvy Google. M$ is not going to get its foot back in the door a second time.

      Android — i.e., Linux, essentially — is the future OS for computing for at least the next decade or two.

    10. Jonathan Says:

      Setbit,

      It was a secondary drive in the previous computer.

      The existence of file permissions isn’t the problem. The problem is that Windows doesn’t provide an easy way to deal with this situation. There should be something like a high-level permissioning menu with a one-click option to make an entire drive readable/writable for the current (admin) user account. Require the user to enter the acct password if there is one. That’s it. They could add that as a new, high-level option on top of the current menu options. MS added robust permissioning to Windows without making permissioning easy to administer. It’s at the same level of complexity as networking used to be.

      Bupkis,

      I’m limited by software to Win/OSX.

    11. ErisGuy Says:

      “The fact that a small subset of users needs a particular feature is no reason to impose that feature on all users.”

      I’m curious: who is the small subset of users who need this feature? Not-so-dedicated admins? Can’t be home users, few of whom move hard drives from one machine to another.

      * * *

      Linux, the operating system of the future–in the 1980s. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard about Linux. It’s never true. It won’t be true now.

      I build my own Linux boxes, run Ubuntu and Backtrack (and have used BSD in the past), so don’t bother asserting my ignorance. As it develops the most usable (for home, set ’n’ forget users) Linux software comes to resemble Windows software (e.g., XMBC). Hundreds of millions of people will never wake up one morning and suddenly proclaim, “Yes, I want to write my own configuration files in a text editor!” or “I want to memorize flags and switches for cryptic shell programs!”

      “I will predict that Windows 9 will be the last release of Windows of any significance at all.”

      I predict that as wireless networks increase in capacity and speed, tablets (or their successors) will become (nearly) dumb terminals for a supercomputer built into a closet, when the tablet isn’t accessing remote software on the Internet. And the interfaces for those terminals will be Windows. And the backend will be Windows, except for small percentage of users who claim the future of computing belongs to Linux, for the ninth decade in row.

    12. setbit Says:

      Jonathan,

      For what it’s worth, I think this will solve your permissions problem:

      Right click on the drive in question and select Properties.

      In the properties dialog, select the Security tab.

      Click Advanced.

      Select the Owner tab.

      Click the Edit button.

      Select a new owner (presumably yourself, or perhaps Administrators) from the list.

      Make sure to select the box that says “Replace owner on subcontainers…” and click OK.

      This operation doesn’t actually change any permissions, but it should eliminate the weird behavior you have been experiencing.

      You’re certainly right that Microsoft could have made this a one click operation, but I’m not entirely certain they should have. Maybe it’s just my tech snobbery speaking, but sometimes things are obscure for a reason.

      I’m curious if anyone here has swapped a Mac drive between systems. How does OS X handle permissions in such cases?

    13. PenGun Says:

      “I’m curious if anyone here has swapped a Mac drive between systems. How does OS X handle permissions in such cases?”

      It should be pretty *nixy in that no drives are obvious to the user. The file system is mapped to drives that are available so you have to mount the drive on to your file system. That is usually trivial.

      Permissions in a *nix system are for the user and for various programs that need different levels of permission, web servers etc. If the user is root he essentially god and the system will do whatever he tells it to.

    14. Jonathan Says:

      Setbit,

      Thanks for your suggestions. I’ve tried variations of these actions many times. Changing ownership globally works and now folder and file ownership are correct. However, some folders and files lack the correct permissions and I am unable to add the permissions globally. I am able to add the permissions for individual folders but the added permissions don’t propagate to subfolders. I am able to change each subfolder’s permissions manually but this is a lot of work.

      Also, the files in the unpermissioned subfolders remain incorrectly permissioned no matter what I do. I don’t know how to change their permissions globally. Even after I manually change the permissions on individual files my software refuses to open those files.

      What seems to work is to run my Adobe software as admin. It looks like all folders and files are readable if I do this, and this is a situation I can live with. However, I still get access errors when I run Windows Explorer as admin and try to access the incorrectly permissioned folders, so there is still a problem.

    15. setbit Says:

      I was asking for someone with actual knowledge of the user experience, PenGun, not semi-informed conjecture.

      Current Macs use a combination of standard Unix user/group/other flags and Access Control Lists as the basis for their file permissions. This and other POSIX underpinnings are what draw power users like Mike K’s IT guy.

      If a drive pulled from another box shows up in a Mac, with permissions based on a different set of user IDs, it’s going to have essentially the same underlying problem that Jonathan experienced with Win 7.

      I expect that if the Mac UI has a feature to handle such a case, it works pretty well. But more likely Apple’s opinion is the same as mine: “Only experts who know the file system tools should be doing that.”

      Here’s an interesting fact: despite some pretty thorough searching, I can’t find any descriptions on the Web of transferring an internal Mac drive to a different machine.

      So I’m sticking by my assertion about expectations. Apple’s typical customer isn’t going to (or more likely doesn’t know how to) pull a drive out and stick it in another box. They either get help, or they buy an external drive designed and configured to move between systems.

      Apple’s real innovation in usability isn’t that their products are foolproof, it’s that they’ve made it easier for their customers to get expert help.

    16. setbit Says:

      Jonathan,

      Okay, you’re much farther down the path to enlightenment than I realized.

      Without seeing it myself, I can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong. And as you’ve noticed, the NTFS permissions interface doesn’t go out of its way to help.

      However, I suspect that the secret sauce you are looking for is the little checkbox that says “Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object”.

      IF you get the permissions set correctly at the root of the drive, and IF those permissions are set to apply to “This folder, subfolders, and files,” then the replace permissions checkbox is the one-and-done full drive update you are looking for.

      Of course, I take no responsibility if my advice accidentally triggers the zombie apocalypse instead.

    17. Jonathan Says:

      Apple’s real innovation in usability isn’t that their products are foolproof, it’s that they’ve made it easier for their customers to get expert help.

      I think that’s right. Apple hardware and software aren’t special, but Apple is good about providing products that meet most customers’ needs, making those products work together easily, and providing competent help if there’s a problem. Apple also trains its customers to rely on Apple’s standardized solutions and support rather than DIY. The main tradeoff for customers is higher up-front cost, but the cost is often worthwhile if your time is worth anything.

      Not sure I’m going to go with Apple but I may start using USB 3 portable drives for all data purposes.

    18. Jonathan Says:

      However, I suspect that the secret sauce you are looking for is the little checkbox that says “Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object”.

      That was it. I changed the drive permissions to “Everyone” and it solved the problem. Many thanks!

    19. PenGun Says:

      “I was asking for someone with actual knowledge of the user experience, PenGun, not semi-informed conjecture.”

      It’s true I don’t like Mac much but I have had to fix them. The last time I fired up a terminal in OS X, an early version, it was pretty well the same as any *nix I have ever seen and I have played with quite a few of em’. I had no problem mounting drives and dealing with the fairly primitive tools to manage them. I did have root on the system. I have transferred the contents of dead Mac drives on several occasions and HFS and HFS+ do not scare me at all.

      Whatever flags windows sets on a drive are largely ignored by any *nix. Bootable will be noticed but apart from that you must be root to mount drives anyway. That means anything you tell the system to do, it will. Nothing will be hidden and all flags have less priority than you do.