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Deleting System Files in Vista

Thursday, February 19th, 2009 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management
 
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Have you ever needed to delete or overwrite a system file in Windows Vista? If so, I’m sure you quickly realized you can’t do it, even as the Administrator. Why, you ask? Well, it’s basically because Vista’s system files are owned by the TrustedInstaller service by default and the Windows File Protection program keeps them from being overwritten.

Thankfully, there’s a way around it! You need to take ownership of the files and then assign yourself rights to delete or modify them. To do that, we’ll use the command line. Open an Administrator command prompt by typing “cmd” (without the quotes) into the Start menu search box. Then hit Ctrl + Shift + Enter.



To take ownership of a file, you’ll need to use the “takeown” command. Here’s an example:

takeown /f C:\Windows\System32\en-US\winload.exe.mui

That will give you ownership of the file, but you still don’t have any rights to delete it. So, now, you can run the “cacls” command to give yourself full control rights over the file, like this:

cacls C:\Windows\System32\en-US\winload.exe.mui /G geek:F

Note: I used my username (geek) in the example above, so you’ll need to substitute your own username there.

At this point, you should be able to delete the file. If you still can’t do so, you may need to reboot your computer in Safe Mode and try it again. For the filename in the example, I was able to overwrite it without Safe Mode, but your situation may be different.

Note: Make sure you know that deletion of system files could cause damages to the Vista operating system, so just be careful when working with this tip. I hope it helps you out!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami

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