Taking Control of a WindowsImageBackup Folder

So you’ve made a Windows Image Backup – using the File History window in Windows 7, 8, or 10. Now you want to find out how large the backup is – so you right click and go to Properties, to find that somehow it’s…empty.

1 Empty Folder

If you wanted to take this huge folder and archive/compress it – you’re out of luck, because the various programs will not be able to enumerate the files in the subfolders. Very Frustrating.

2 No Winrar Allowed

Furthermore, inside the WindowsImageBackup folder there will be another folder with the backed up computer’s name. But if you try to enter that directory, you’ll be told you don’t have permissions…even though it’s a backup that you created, containing files that you already have access to. So while you can access the original files, you’re barred from entering the backup directory! (You can hit “Continue” if you’re an administrator.)

2.5 Can't View

The truth is, the folder is not empty at all. In fact, this particular folder is roughly 350GB. So why does it say it’s empty? Because you don’t have read permissions over some of the subfolders, strangely. In this post, I’ll detail how, exactly, to give yourself those permissions.

There’s a very easy process that has to be done on every folder, subfolder, and file, starting from the WindowsImageBackup folder and moving downward. The process is as follows:

  1. Right click the folder, click on Properties. Click on the Security tab.
  2. 3 Security Tab

  3. You’ll see it tell you that you don’t have Read permissions. Click on the Advanced button.
  4. 4 Advanced Screen

  5. You’ll see a screen that tells you once again that you can’t see your own backup files. Click “Continue”.
  6. 5 Advanced Security Settings

  7. You can see that there are a couple of different user accounts that have varying levels of access. Click the “Add” button”.
  8. 6 Permission Entry

  9. In the resulting window, click “Select a principal”. In the “Select User or Group” window that pops up, type the word “Everyone” into the “Enter the object to select (examples)” dialog box, and click “Check Names”. Originally, the word “Everyone” will not have an underline, but after clicking “Check Names”, it should have an underline. Click “OK”.
  10. 7 Select User or Group

  11. Back in the Permission Entry window, check off the “Full Control” permission, which should check off everything else on the list. Click “OK”.
  12. 8 All Permissions

  13. You should now see the “Everyone” entry in the “Permission entries” list. For some reason, there are other accounts added as well…but as long as “Everyone” is there, you should be good. Be sure to check off “Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object” – it won’t necessarily help anything (because of the error below), but if you are occasionally able to apply these permissions to subfolders/files, you’ll save yourself from having to go through these steps a few times. Click “Apply”, then “OK”. If you get a popup explaining to you that “This will replace explicitly defined permissions…” just hit “Yes” – we do want to replace the existing permissions that lock you out of your own files.
  14. 9 Everyone User Added

  15. The first couple of times you do this process, you will run into an error that says “An error occurred while applying security information to: [your backup folder]. Failed to enumerate objects in the container. Access is denied.” This is the real mindfuck – you’re trying to give yourself permissions over a folder. That folder has subfolders, but your current user can’t actually see them all. You can’t see them all, because you don’t have permissions. So in trying to give yourself permissions, you can’t apply those permissions, because you can’t see them. So, you can’t have read permissions because you don’t have read permissions. Fun, right? No worries, it just means you have to do this same process a lot. Hit “Continue”, then click “OK” on the “Advanced Security Settings” window. Hit “OK” on the Properties window as well – this should leave all windows closed, except for Explorer.
  16. 10 Error

  17. Now, you go one level deeper, entering the folder you just edited the permissions for, and start back at step one. Yay! Keep repeating the process until you’ve gotten through every folder and file. Below is a basic file structure that all of my backups match – hopefully yours matches the same basic structure. Good luck.

Structure (starting from root of drive)

  • WindowsImageBackup
    • [Computer name]
      • Backup [date and time of backup]
        • A bunch of XML files
        • A bunch of .vhdx files
      • Catalog
        • BackupGlobalCatalog
        • GlobalCatalog
      • Logs
        • At least one .log file
      • SPPMetadataCache
        • At least one file with random letter/number combinations, separated by dashes, surrounded by {}’s
      • MediaId file

And in the end, you’ll have full control over your folder. Check this out – I can actually see how big a folder on my hard drive is! Thanks for that privilege, Microsoft! Sigh…
11 Viewable Properties

Jake Binstein is a QA engineer for a software firm, and enjoys programming and messing around with Linux. In his free time, he can be found managing the array of servers under his bed, and obsessing over a single misplaced pixel. His personal website is JakeBinstein.com

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    by the way,you got a nice sense of humor.
    keep it up.

  • Henrico Anonymous

    Thanks a million!!! All this complication to backup to a NAS is such a mess. What were the creators of Windows Image Backup thinking.