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Dated: Oct. 15, 2004

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What is meant by "folder" anyway? It is an interface and container for a collection of objects. In the old days of just plain directories, the only objects were files and sub-directories which were physically located on some storage medium and accessed through the parent directory. In current operating systems we have to consider the generalized concept of "object", one that includes various virtual entities. Thus, a folder may contain both conventional files and other types of information.

Consider the very useful folder that sits at the top of the Windows Explorer tree, the Desktop. We don’t always think of the Desktop as a folder but that is what it is. It contains a mixture of different types of object. When you look at your Desktop you typically see icons for the Recycle Bin, My Computer (in Windows 9X/Me), and perhaps other virtual folders. It is likely that there are also shortcut files, data files, program folders, or other references to actual objects that you have placed on the desktop, perhaps by a drag-and-drop. My Computer is another virtual folder that contains a hybrid collection of real and abstract objects. One of its objects is Control Panel, itself a virtual folder.

Strange Folders in Temporary Internet Files

One place where Microsoft has really outdone itself with system folders is in their complex and arcane method of storing Internet cookies, history, and cache files. (To judge from the discussions in Newsgroups, a lot of people are baffled and/or confused on this subject.) Consider the place where previously viewed Web page files are cached- the system folder \Temporary Internet Files\. In older versions of Internet Explorer, if you viewed (with Show all files enabled) this folder you might see some sub-folders with funny names. The peculiar names are randomly generated, reportedly to foil unfriendly hackers, and some of the folders are mirages. In current Windows systems these folders are super-hidden so it takes special measures to see them. Attempts at deleting or editing here will usually be frustrating and is probably unwise, so all such efforts should take place through the menus of the browser itself. The appearance of multiple folders is created from the information in the two hidden files index.dat and desktop.ini. Another peculiarity is that these folders seem to have replicas of the contents of the cookie folder, \Cookies\, where the actual cookie files are kept. The cookies are not really there in the cache folders, only pointers to them. The whole thing is pretty complicated and the best way for those who are really interested in more information is to use Google to search the Microsoft newsgroups. Here is a link to some of the threads.

Editing System Folders

If you wish to carry out an editing operation with one of these special folders, you have to use a name that identifies the folder in the Registry.

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raj's Comment
Wonderful site
09 Wed Feb 2011
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