What Is TrustedInstaller & Why Does it Keep Me From Renaming Files?

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trustedinstaller rename fileTrustedInstaller is a built-in user account in Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista. This user account “owns” a variety of system files, including some files in your Program Files folder, your Windows folder, and even the Windows.old folder that is created after you upgrade from one version of Windows to another. To rename or delete these files, you’ll have to take ownership of them away from the TrustedInstaller user account.

If you’ve just upgraded to a new version of Windows and are trying to get rid of the Windows.old folder, there’s an easier way to do it – you don’t have to delete the folder by hand.

Who Is TrustedInstaller?

The TrustedInstaller user account is used by the Windows Modules Installer service included with Windows. This service is responsible for installing, modifying, and removing Windows updates and other optional Windows components, so it has the exclusive ability to modify them.

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Deleting The Windows.old Folder

If you’re trying to delete the C:\Windows.old folder after upgrading to a new version of Windows and you’re seeing a message saying you need permission from TrustedInstaller, you don’t need to take ownership of the files at all. You just need to use the Disk Cleanup wizard.

To open the Disk Cleanup wizard, press the Windows key and type Disk Cleanup. On Windows 7, click the Disk Cleanup shortcut that appears in the Start menu. On Windows 8, click the Settings category and select the “Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files” shortcut.

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Click the Clean up system files button in the Disk Cleanup window.

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If you have a Windows.old folder on your hard drive, you’ll see a “Previous Windows installations” checkbox in the list of system files you can delete. Enable the option and click OK. Windows will delete the Windows.old folder for you – ensure you’ve copied any important files out of it before running Disk Cleanup on it.

Taking Ownership of Files

Warning – the TrustedInstaller user account owns your system files. If TrustedInstaller is preventing you from renaming or deleting a folder, it’s often for a good reason. For example, if you rename the C:\Windows\System32 folder, your operating system will stop functioning and will need to be repaired or reinstalled.

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You should only take ownership of system files and rename, delete, or move them if you know what you’re doing. If you do know what you’re doing, follow the instructions below to take ownership of the files.

Locate the folder or file you want to take ownership of, right-click it, and select Properties.

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Click the Security tab in the properties window and click the Advanced button near the bottom.

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Click the Change link next to TrustedInstaller to change the owner.

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Type Administrators into the box and click the Check Names button. Windows will automatically complete the rest of the name. This gives ownership to all administrators on the system. Click the OK button to save this change.

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Enable the “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” setting if you want to apply these changes to all subfolders and files in them. Click the OK button at the bottom of the Advanced Security Settings window.

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Click the Edit button in the properties window.

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Select the Administrators user and enable the Full Control checkbox to give administrator accounts full permissions to the files.

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Click the OK button twice to save your changes. You now have the ability to rename, delete, or move the files as you please.

If you find yourself regularly taking ownership of files, you may want to download a .reg file that will add a “Take Ownership” option to your right-click menu. You’ll be able to take ownership of files and folders with a few quick clicks.

For more answers to tech questions, check out MakeUseOf Answers.

Why did you need to take ownership of a folder away from TrustedInstaller? Leave a comment and share any other tricks you have!

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19 Comments - Write a Comment

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dragonmouth

There goes MS, complicating things again. Instead of leaving Administrator as the owner of all the System files, they have to introduce another userid. Obfuscate, don’t innovate seems to be their motto. Brilliant, just f’ing brilliant!

Mihovil Pletikos

this way users won’t mess around with things they shouldn’t. and most of them won’t need to do it ever. those who need to do it, know how do deal with it…. it is just safer

dragonmouth

“it is just safer”
In what way is it safer? Sounds like security by obscurity. Make things more “secure” by creating additional Administrator-level accounts. If Windows O/S was designed properly from the start, one Administrator account would be sufficient and secure. Is Microsoft going to create a separate “secure” userid for each system task?

All other O/Ss have only one Administrator or root account and they are much more secure than Windows. In other O/Ss each user is isolated in his own sandbox. By default and design they cannot “mess around with things they shouldn’t”. In Linux, for instance, a user installs an application into a folder in his own partition. If that application blows up it only affects that user’s partition. In Windows the application is installed in a system folder and when it fails, it can take the entire system down. That is why viruses and other malware is so successful on Windows PCs. It runs as a system process.

Chris Hoffman

Theoretically it makes it harder to mess with system files — and for applications to mess with them. Since so much stuff on Windows runs with Administrator permissions, well..

dragonmouth

“Theoretically it makes it harder to mess with system files”
The key word being “theoretically”. When it comes to practice, that is a horse of a different color.

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Jonen

i thought this was why Trustedinstaller existed. is it by chance possible to log in as Trustedinstaller? it would be risky, but is it possible?

Chris Hoffman

Well, there’s no password by default, so you’d have to assign a password. It probably wouldn’t let you without a lot of silly stuff like assigning a password and allowing logons and such. It might not even do it then, as it’s a system account without a folder under Users.

So, definitely don’t even try!

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Jorge Andrade

Faced this problem just the other day! Great help from this post

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supertofana

For people who need to do it It’s better to know how do it safe. Great

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ROY

I would like to have ownership so I can delete thousands of unwanted pictures with symbols etc. from windows photo gallery and hundreds of unwanted Videos that I don’t want. No idea where they came from and I need “trustedInstaller” permission to delete them..Some of the pictures and Videos don’t show a SECURITY tab when I click PROPERTIES so I am stumped..Please help!!!!

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Emma

Tried this. But every time I try to replace the owner I get denied.

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Sean Kurth

Personally, I think the steps they use for taking ownership are too complicated. I recognize that some users aren’t comfortable with using the command line, but the TAKEOWN command really is easier.

Just open cmd.exe at an administrator level (Run>cmd>Right click>Run as administrator), and that’s pretty much it.

Type TAKEOWN /F C:\example folder\example subfolder\*

Why go through all those complicated menus and administrative control panels when all you have to do is basically type the path of the file/folder/drive you want to take and hit enter?

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Gen

This is great – I can finally delete a wallpaper image that was pre-installed and really not a quality photo or an attractive image. Thanks – the process should be so much easier to manage the images on teh screensavers and wallpapers.

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Dwaing

Thank you!

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Pam

It keeps popping the message: “you are not running an official version of Windows”. But I bought my laptop 4 years ago with Windows 7 included and have never had this message until this last week. What’s up?

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Mochan

“failed to enumerate objects in the container. Access is denied.”

Great.

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N.D

I need to get rid of iexplore.exe version 11.0.9600.17496. It uses 98% CPU and often closes open programs!

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G Hilbert

As an IT-er, whether I like it or not, I’m obligated/required to follow the ‘book’ when it comes to Windows installations, and I certainly do so when working on machines owned by customers, corporations etc.

That said, when it comes to my own machines, things are very different, Windows gets one hell of a taming.

It truly irks me what Microsoft has done when it comes to administering Windows. It has not only overly complicated Windows but also made it a minefield of unnecessary obfuscation (not to mention the tons of unwanted bloatware). Since Win 7 and onward, the role of Administrator has been considerably downgraded which only adds considerable time to maintenance, etc., as just about everything one does is necessarily more time-consuming.

With Win 7, Microsoft introduced Mandatory Integrity Control (MIC–see Wiki’s simple but good explanation), MIC puts TrustedInstaller well ahead of Administrator in the permissions stakes thus significantly downgrading Administrator’s powers. It’s why there’s all this unnecessary messing about trying to take control or gaining ownership. Frankly, is a damn nuisance and to little useful effect. Microsoft says it’s to further protect Windows and make it more reliable but from my experience viruses an malware have no trouble whatsoever in bypassing it! In practice, what MICs mostly achieve is is to waste users’ and administrators’ time not to mention increasing their tempers and swearing at Microsoft.

For those like me who need to attack their OS more than MS wants us to, then in addition to the excellent suggestions above, I’d recommend two additional courses of action: the first being the program Unlocker, and the second a live Linux CD.

Unlocker (freeware) can work miracles on a recalcitrant Windows OS especially when it comes to deleting and renaming ‘difficult’ objects, and when Unlocker runs out of steam there’s always a Linux live CD. Almost nothing in Windows can’t be renamed, moved or deleted when you ‘attack’ with Linux, as the Window kernel isn’t alive to thwart you every inch of the way, as it usually does! Linux is always in my arsenal of weapons for keeping Windows under control. Moreover, with some experimentation, it is amazing to see what huge chunks of bloatware you can actually remove from Windows in this way and still have Windows working–this time as you want it to.

However, a word of warning: before you attack with Linux or even delete great swathes of Windows with Unlocker, I’d strongly suggest you become accustomed to mirroring your drive as you’ll almost certainly need a backup of it. A nice, quick and very easy solution [but one of many] is Acronis’ PC Backup and Recovery. This boot-from-CD program backs up your Windows to an image file on another drive that can be restored with in just a few minutes.

Another very useful freeware tool is ERUNT, it both automatically and manually backs up your Windows registry files. If launched at start-up, ERUNT automatically keeps the last 30 days of daily registry backups without you having to think about it–extremely helpful when you screw up your registry and forget to backup beforehand.

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chewyboy

My reason for taking ownership was because the trusted intaller started turning off program files windows installer or scanner a lot of stopped or suspended programs my computer would not download and istall updates it turned off Mafee so it could not update caused alot of problems.

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