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Windows 7: 'Access Denied' message when trying to access folder

By: Arie Slob

I'm seeing a lot of enquiries from users who are asking why they are getting an "Access Denied" error when they are trying to access certain folders on their Windows 7 system. Juction Points shown in Windows Explorer

It usually turns out that these users are not trying to access any folders, but rather junction points. Let me explain.

With Windows 7, Microsoft changed from the old "Documents and Settings" folder structure to the new "Users" folder structure for the storage of user data. In order to preserve compatibility with older software (which could be coded to look for a specific location in the "Documents and Settings" folder to store data and/or settings), Microsoft added certain 'folder shortcuts' (junction points) that will re-direct data from the old to the new folder structure.

These junction points are not visible by default. Only if you set Windows Explorer to Show hidden files, folders, and drives and also un-check Hide protected operating system files you'll be able to see these junction points.

You'll also notice that some of these junction points are shown with a 'faded' folder icon and padlock, while others are shown as a 'faded' folder icon with the shortcut arrow.

If you use the dir /a command from a command prompt, you will be able to see the 'target' for these junction points (Figure).