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Virtual Store location for programs saving files without the administrator privilege

posted Feb 1, 2016, 8:43 PM by Jingshan Du
There are many locations that programs without the administrative privilege cannot alter. For example, the "Program Files" folder and its subfolders. Such feature has been introduced as part of the User Account Control (UAC) since Windows Vista to prevent unauthorized changes of critical files. However there are many old programs in the pre-UAC era which save configurations and other stuff in the root path of the program or at the root of the disk (like C:\). If these programs are installed in the "Program Files" folder in newer systems, it can lead to a problem when they are not running with administrator privilege.

Microsoft has introduced a feature called Virtual Store to virtually link these inaccessible locations to somewhere the program can modify. The program itself cannot sense it while they will actually save files in a different location. Sometimes it is confusing for the user trying to find where these saved files are since they do not appear in the root folder of the program,. The alternative path is given as below.
C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore

I am writing this small article since it is very hard to find related information via the search engine if you did not know the term "virtual store". This piece should answer your question if you are trying to find where do programs without the administrator privilege save files in the "program files" folders.

References and further readings:
http://www.optimizingpc.com/windows7/windows_7_compatibility_software.html
http://www.networkinghowtos.com/howto/windows-virtual-store-location/

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