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SOLVED: Application Data.. repeating recursion

October 30, 2010

The directory name C:\Users\ username \AppData\Local\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer is too long.

The insanity of it almost makes sense if you think about it, but don’t think too long or it hurts.

Based our investigation, here is what seems to have happened. In Vista and Windows 7, a Microsoft developer had the good intention of flattening the nested file folders. Regrettably, a folder shortcut, called a junction, was used and the consequences were not well thought out.

So, instead of a having an Application Data folder to write to, all applications are given this link as their folder location. There they would normally proceed to create Application Data\whatever. As the folder is not really a folder, it’s a link, the problem becomes recursive.

When the problem was caught, the programmer was unconvinced of a logic error regarding how older applications should be supported, so instead of fixing the problem, temporarily decided set the folder properties to DENY rights to List Folder for user Everyone. The problem was never revisited and the operating system is installed with this security property.

Now, along come folks who manually, or via some application, take control of their users’ folders. Some people do this to make sure their data is backed up so that certain backup programs do not end up access denied and find themselves S.O.L. without a backup of all their users’ data. The consequence is that you can now write into the AppData\Local\Application Data again and create the recursion effect.

Some of you may get a chuckle in many forums when told to check for a virus as the cause. This is not a virus problem, but I will interject a strong recommendation for Microsoft Security Essentials, one of the best products I have seen from Microsoft.

A further chuckle is that this junction was created to support older programs from the XP days. However, while folder aliases or links are common in Unix based operating systems, many popular Windows applications on the market do not recognize what a junction is nor understand how to traverse it. This can be said of many Microsoft products as well (e.g. IE), which may be why the access DENIED was issued to the folder list property.

Some have suggested leaving the Application Data junction there and setting DENY access to Everyone. How is that different from going to the C:\users\username\AppData\Local directory and deleting the Application Data folder? The glass is either half full or half empty on this one.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2010 11:39 pm

    Thanks for the informative article, it was a good read and I hope its ok that I share this with some facebook friends. Thanks.

  2. January 20, 2011 1:40 pm

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    • January 28, 2014 6:21 pm

      Don’t you hate automated blog spam replies like the one above? Too bad for Zenithink that Google has already figured this out and doesn’t count this for page rank or anything.

  3. Ash Nallawalla permalink
    January 27, 2011 10:55 pm

    I just encountered this bug after using Google Apps Email Sync for a few hours. I have 16 recursive directories. The Outlook PST file is only 18 MB in size.

    Other programs that use the recursions are: Mindjet Mindmanager, Adobe Air, Nero Home, Apple software update, iTunes, QuickTime and Webkit.

    Did you delete the first dupe folder? It wasn’t clear from your last para.

  4. Ken permalink
    May 29, 2011 9:55 am

    OK. Now, how do I delete this group of recursively defined directories?

  5. Ed V permalink
    June 2, 2011 4:41 am

    Just thought I’d say thank you!! Crashplan Backup was having a problem after malware trashed my ACL’s. I fixed the ACL’s but I could not for the life of me figure out why it was recursing like it was…


  6. Kevin permalink
    October 25, 2011 2:24 am

    Hello Folks.

    I just wanted to let you know I am a support rep from a company whose users has hit this issue with a product. An enterprising user pointed out an open source program that was able to repair the junction point issue outlined here. I havent tested it myself yet, its called Junction Box. The fix is discussed in the forum thread here:

    I have verified with at least one user this did in fact fix their issue. I just thought I’d pass the knowledge on here as well.

  7. July 1, 2012 8:56 pm

    and how I can repair it? Have 25x full folder structure of Documents and Settings/All Users/Application Data

  8. August 2, 2012 7:46 pm

    I have been surfing on-line more than three hours lately, yet I never found any attention-grabbing article like yours.
    It’s lovely worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content as you did, the net can be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  9. November 20, 2012 10:49 am

    “As the folder is not really a folder, it’s a link, the problem becomes recursive.”
    That statement is not explanatory; the [therefore] part assumes knowledge that I lack.
    I understand link; exactly what is the “problem”?
    I understand recursion; why does it follow from a link?

  10. February 5, 2013 5:34 pm

    What exactly seriously motivated you to create “SOLVED:
    Application Data.. repeating recursion Wordlinks’ Blog”? I personallydefinitely liked the blog post! Thanks -Allan

  11. February 12, 2013 5:21 pm

    I have just removed this entry: “DENY access to Everyone” from the folder/junction “C:\Users\USERNAMEofMine\Application Data” and recursion has disappeared at once.

    • Rick permalink
      October 1, 2014 7:35 pm

      where is the folder /junction ????

  12. February 22, 2013 7:19 am

    Sieć jest coraz ważniejszym kanałem lecz i jeśli chodzi rozrywkę, czy poszukiwanie informacji, ale również jeśli kroczy o sprzedaż i reklamę.
    Coraz większa liczba ludzi posiada dostęp do sieci w ciągu dnia, zarówno w formie stacjonarnej, jak i formie mobilnej.
    Jednocześnie coraz większa liczba osób nie boi się dokonywać zakupów produktów
    oraz usług informatycznych drogą internetową,
    co zwiększa skuteczność jaką ma kampania reklamowa.

    Wielu klientów zauważa pozytywy jakie płyną z wariacje dokonywania
    takich zakupów. Jednym z takich atutów jest możliwość zaoszczędzenia terminu
    jaki konieczny by był aż do chodzenia po sklepach stacjonarnych.
    W sieci możemy dodatkowo znaleźć niższe ceny, które wynikają
    z niższych kosztów prowadzenia działalności Reklama Firmy w Internecie przez firmy jakie nie posiadają
    stacjonarnych oddziałów. Innym plusem jest opcja szukania różnych ofert.

    Z tego powodu konflikt zbrojny reklamowa jaka prowadzona wydaje się
    w Internecie może rozniecić bardzo pozytywne rezultaty.

    Plusem takich kampanii, jak firma na facebook widnieje możliwość szybkiego badania jej uzysków.
    W ten sposób kompleksowo łatwiej jest dopasować
    kampanię do konkretnych odbiorców. Dodatkowo możliwe jest stosowanie takich sposobów reklamowania
    się, które niosą ze sobą rozmaite koszty. Dla przykładu firma na facebook akceptowalny
    bardzo tanim sposobem także promowania się, jak i prowadzenia funkcjonowaniu promocyjnych.
    Jest to rozwiązanie, choćby dla małych oraz średnich firm dla jakich tradycyjne formy reklamowania się mają prawo
    być zbyt drogie. Jest to również rozwalenie jakie może znacznie rozpędzić się rynek i zakres oddziaływania firmy
    na klientów.

  13. March 1, 2013 12:13 pm

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  14. June 21, 2013 6:26 pm

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  15. August 8, 2013 11:50 am

    ” Other lawmakers have described the latest TSA security change as misguided and dangerous. With this level of attention being paid to the very fine details, you can be confident of the accuracy of the product. The Wusthof Classic line was the top rated knife by Consumer Reports in its test of knives in 2005 and is consistently given top marks by Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

  16. August 13, 2014 7:58 am

    M$ are rubbish. So are Apple. Why waste time? End of.

  17. curtis permalink
    August 27, 2014 5:38 am

    Retitle this article, it is not a solution to the problem, thus it isn’t “solved”. It is just a disclosure to the how the problem was born. It’s highly frustrating to have this article at the top of a search, when dealing with the difficulty of fixing the issue.

  18. September 24, 2014 8:49 am

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you
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  19. Sue Microsoft permalink
    January 4, 2015 7:47 am

    It’s 2015. It was change-for-no-reason back then, and it’s still change-for-no-reason now. The technology pushers. Money 1st reliability 5th. All the money Bill Gates has was supposed to be spent on SOFTWARE TESTING.

  20. German Afonso permalink
    February 11, 2015 1:53 am

    This wiped it for me:

    robocopy C:\purge C:\users\username\appfolder /purge

    (create a purge folder that is empty)

    • Rick permalink
      February 11, 2015 4:37 am

      German Afonso, please list this as a step by step process. Not sure where the command robocopy is entered and when and where do you create the purge folder? I think it should work but set it up as a step by step process. Thanks for your input

    • April 10, 2015 4:06 pm

      This worked for me. @Rick – robocopy is enter in the command prompt. THanks German Afonso!

  21. December 7, 2016 10:07 am

    I’ve been trying to solve a recursion problem with this junction but every time I try to delete it or change it’s permissions or take ownership. I get permission denied. How do I fix this recursive problem?


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