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.

trustedinstaller rename file

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.

permission trustedinstaller rename

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.

folder-security-properties

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

trustedinstaller rename file

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.

enter-user-or-group-owner

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.

edit-windows-folder-permissions

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

trustedinstaller rename file

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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Comments (21)
  • Phillip Easter

    this is great and all. but these steps ARE NOT the same for windows 7. they immediately change after hitting advanced.

  • Ali

    Thank you Sir for sharing this info.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.