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  • Cannot Remove Duplicated Data on C: Drive

    Home » Forums » AskWoody support » Windows » Windows 10 » Questions: Win10 » Cannot Remove Duplicated Data on C: Drive


    On my SSD I created a partition to hold my programs (and other data). The bulk of the data (70GB) are in a folder, DATA, that has one sub-folder which has several sub-folders. My problem is that on the C: drive there are TWO complete duplicates of that DATA folder, each holding the same 70GB. They are located under: Desktop > John D > DATA and This PC > DATA.

    Weirdly, anything that I do in any one of these locations is mirrored in the other two; additions, deletions, etc. Also, if I try to move or copy something from one DATA to another, an error pops up titled “1 Interrupted Action” and the message, “The destination folder is the same as the source folder.”

    Can someone tell me how this is happening? How do I get rid of the duplicated 140GB of data on the C drive? I need the storage space. 🙁


    Viewing 12 reply threads
    • #2394380

      You have DATA folders for your user (current user) and ‘All Users’.

      When you install software you get the choice of installing for ‘current User’ or ‘All Users’. You have chosen ‘All Users’ that is why you have duplicate DATA folders.

      • #2395322

        Thanks very much for your info. I understand much better now. It started me on the right path and helped me to understand other things as I proceeded.


    • #2394386

      Most likely one of those is either a shortcut, a symlink (symbolic link) or a junction point (directory link) which are all “virtual“.

        i.e. they don’t actually contain anything or take up any storage space they just point to the real folder and will always reflect its contents.

      Right clicking either and selecting properties would reveal if it’s a shortcut.

      To find out if either is a symlink/junction, use the following command from an elevated cmd prompt.

      dir C:\DATA. /a /s | findstr /i "<DIR> <SYMLINKD> <JUNCTION>"

      This will display all folders on drive C: named “data” with a column showing whether it’s a directory (<DIR>), symlink (<SYMLINKD>) or junction (<JUNCTION>) and, if it’s a symlink or junction, a column showing the real folder it points to (i.e. DATA [C:\Documents])

      If you want, you can delete a symlink or junction using the rd command but that won’t actually increase the amount of storage space on your drive as they don’t actually use any  space (note, removing a symlink/junction does not remove the real folder it points to.)


      The main difference between a symlink and a junction is a symlink can point to a file or a folder while a junction can only point to a folder.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2395623

        Sorry for the long delay in responding. Medical emergency. I decided to reply to you first since I had developed this information prior to seeing the other replies. I think it will partially answer some of their points they raised to me. As I proceeded, I mostly used File Explorer, the Command Prompt, Properties, WinDirStat and WizTree for information. Here is what I found:

        File Explorer shows that in the partition P:\INSTALL_J-6 directory and its sub-folder  DATA (and its sub-folders) contain all the correct directories and files.  Properties shows that 70GB are there. File Explorer, WinDirStat and WizTree show that all directories and files are there. CMD shows the same and NO symlinks or junctions.
        dir P:\INSTALL_J-6. /a /s | findstr /i “<DIR> <SYMLINKD> <JUNCTION>”

        File Explorer shows in C: that DATA is a sub-folder of C:\Jim D (All Users) and there is an identical directory under This PC. It shows that in both all directories and files are there. Properties shows that 70GB are there in both. However, WinDirStat and WizTree do not show any DATA directories at all. Shouldn’t they show them even if only with Symlinks? Confuses me.

        CMD shows there are FOUR  DATA directories on C:, and NO Symlinks or junctions. Beats me.
        dir C:\DATA. /a /s | findstr /i “<DIR> <SYMLINKD> <JUNCTION>”

        When I download something, it is indicated that the exe/msi/zip/docx/pdf/etc file goes to C:\Jim D\DATA. The file also shows up in the other DATA directories. But based upon your information, it appears to me that the download now actually resides in the P: partition’s directory, with symlinks created in the others in C:. Why? Confuses me.

        Thank you again for your great help.

        • #2395747

          The data you posted further down about the properties for those folders indicates they all point to the exact same location on drive P. That means there’s no actual “duplication” of any files (i.e. they’re only using 70GB of storage on drive P:)

          Also, it’s not possible to have a folder on drive C: with an actual location on drive P: without it being either a shortcut, symlink, junction or a “mapped” folder from another drive (I suspect C:\John D\DATA was “mapped” to P:\INSTALL_J-6\DATA instead of it being a shortcut, symlink or junction.)

          As far as how much actual storage is being used, Windows explorer and CMD will always show how much storage the real folder that’s being pointed to (in this case P:\INSTALL_J-6\DATA) is using. I’ve never used WinDirStat or WizTree so am not sure exactly what they do/don’t display as far as symbolic links are concerned.

          Anyway, at this point you now know you’re not using any more storage that what’s being shown for the folder on drive P and could just ignore the duplicate DATA folders.

          However, if you still want to get rid of them, post here and I can provide instructions on how to safely do that.

          BTW, if you do ask for those instructions, please add your post to the “end” of this whole thread to help keep it clean and presentable.

    • #2394551

      You haven’t been messing with DISM have you? That’s exactly the weirdness which results if you back up the users folder to a WIM archive, make a new folder, and then extract the archive there – it’s a result of DISM reinstating all the attributes of the users folder to the restoration folder. The only place the difference will be evident is in the view of the drive directory from a command prompt, from which if elevated you could use the rd {directory} /s command..

      If you see only one users folder and no folder you don’t expect, alejr is probably along the right lines.

      • #2395344

        I have used DSIM (and SFC) several times in the past. I tried to run your suggestion but it didn’t work. I probably didn’t do it right. Also probably because I’m stupid (I have a BS degree — Bachelor of Stupid. Use it every day.). Based upon the other information I have gotten, there might be no need to figure it out now. Unless you tell me otherwise! This is the result that I saw:

        rd {_INSTALLATION} /s

        Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.19043.1165]
        (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

        C:\WINDOWS\system32>rd {_INSTALLATION} /s
        {_INSTALLATION}, Are you sure (Y/N)? y
        The system cannot find the file specified.


        Thanks for your input. I appreciate it greatly. John

    • #2395419

      OK things have gone awry in that something in my reply causes the site protection to kick in!

      The reply is in the attachment – hopefully that will get through.


      • #2395428

        Because he can “see” the 2 DATA folders he’s referring to (i.e. they’re not hidden), I deliberately didn’t include the h option so the results he got would only show items that are visible.

        I also set it up to look at the whole of drive C: because “This PC” actually points to the entire computer, including all it’s drives, partitions assigned drive letters and/or mapped network drives. I “assumed” the DATA folder would be on the primary Windows drive C: instead of a different drive.

        BTW, not all SYMLINKDs and JUNCTIONs are hidden.

        • i.e. among other folders, a user’s My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, My Videos and Start Menu are all Junctions that are not hidden.

        The following command will show all the “unhidden” symlinkd/junction folders on drive C:

        dir C:\*. /a /s | findstr /i "<SYMLINKD> <JUNCTION>"


        • #2395643

          alejr. I ran dir C:\jdjdj. /a /s | findstr /i “<SYMLINKD> <JUNCTION>”

          It produced over 60 links that are listed in the attachment. Unless I don’t know what I’m looking at, I do not see any of my DATA directories that are in question. I’m doing something wrong again?


          • #2395667

            You’re right, there’s no DATA folder listed which means neither one is a symlinkd nor junction.

            So, right-click on each folder and select the Properties option at the bottom of the context window.

            In the Properties window that opens, note the values shown in the Type: and Location: fields.


            Post the values you get here and we should be able to help determine what’s going on.

            • #2395730

              Note that all have the sub-folder DATA.
              C:\Jim D\DATA
              Type: File Folder
              Location: P:\INSTALL_J-6

              C:\This PC\INSTALL_J-6
              Type: System Folder
              Location: P:\INSTALL_J-6

              Type: File Folder
              Location: P:\

        • #2395746

          FYI, I noticed that NirSoft has a program, NTFSLinks view. Ran it and it came up with over 73,000 links on drive C. I scanned them as well as I could but did not see the two DATA directories or their folders and file links.  Running it for partition P:\, which contains my supposed main DATA directory, there were no links at all.

      • #2395633

        oldguy, I’m glad it didn’t work, too. I do have autocomplete on in Windows in general. Is that what you mean? So, running your suggestions in cmd:

        dir c:\users\DATA. /ah /s | findstr /i “<DIR> <SYMLINKD> <JUNCTION>”
        “File Not Found”
        dir c:\users\jdjdj\Desktop\John D\DATA”

        The system cannot find the file specified.

        ‘C:\users\jdjdj\DATA”‘ is not recognized as an internal or external command,
        operable program or batch file.
        I tried several ways to enter the commands but no go. About the “tidied up” thing; my account name (as confirmed by the SET command) is jdjdj but that is not what shows in C:. The “This PC” is replaced by “John D” (see above). No, I do not have a desktop shortcut pointing to DATA.

        • #2395775

          Geese, I goofed again. I said above that ““This PC” is replaced by “John D””. It should read, “All Users” is replaced by “John D”. Ugh.


    • #2395472

      to alejr-

      I must admit I hadn’t noticed any symlinks not hidden – but then I just had a look on my account and I have security set so other users can have an account but can’t sneak into my folders as the other accounts are limited so my view isn’t “default” anyway.

      Hopefully he’ll try all the things we’ve suggested and return the results to us and between us we can get to a solution, even if that is he needs to acquire a drive from somewhere and back up the files before removing both folders and starting over.

      I do wonder what would happen if he made a further folder well removed from the problem and cut and pasted the content of one DATA folder into that alternative folder – theoretically that should empty both DATA folders (which could then be removed to resolve whatever the issue is) if the disk structures are OK, but obviously isn’t going to gain a significant amount of space as expected.

      The mirroring of file activities does indicate a shared location, but not being a OneDrive user I can’t be sure as to if you can set the parameters on OneDrive to sync other folders such that it might be syncing up files from one folder and down to the other and visa versa, due to a misconfiguration so you might have to help yet, so please keep watching..

      • #2395531

        Personally, I don’t use “in the cloud” storage… way too much chance it wouldn’t be there when I really needed it. Instead I backup my data to “removable” drives (i.e. they’re only connected when I actually do a backup/restore to reduce the risk the backups might get infected.)

        I also keep a bootable USB drive with the current version of Win10 I’m using on it that can be used to restore things if a drive fails on me.

        Since I’ve never actually used OneDrive ( (in fact, it’s completely disabled on my PC) I’d be a bit in the dark as to how to help if that’s his problem but, since one of his folders is located in a Desktop link (Desktop > John D > DATA), I “suspect” it may be either a symlinkd or junction that just points to the actual DATA folder.

        My Uncle has such a folder on the Desktop of his 6 PC’s that points to the real folder containing the various utilities I use to help him whenever he encounters problems.

        Just FYI…

        On my own PC, which only has me as a user, the “All Users” folder located in C:\Users is a symlinkd that’s not hidden (it points to C:\ProgramData.)

    • #2395554

      If you use a utility to view disk space in use by folders, these folders should not show up as taking extra space on disk, and you may see other things that are taking space.  Try Windirstat or Wiztree.

      • #2395731

        I was using Windirstat and Wiztree throughout my investigation. See my reply to alejr to see the results.

    • #2395721

      re #2395633, missing a quote at the start somehow..

      dir “c:\users\jdjdj\Desktop\John D\DATA”

      dir “C:\users\jdjdj\DATA”

      BTW – be wary of copying lines with quotes from the forum – you need to get quotes by holding the shift key and pressing the 2 key or letting Windows fill them in if it will. If you look they’re subtly different.. (checked it’s the same for your keyboard layout ..)


      • #2395738

        Every time that I have run one of the suggested commands I reran them several times with and without quotes. Windows never filled them in and shift 2 is @.

    • #2395758

      Unfortunately I can’t visualise what’s happening at your end and think perhaps I’ll leave it to Alejr to resolve before I confuse you, or myself, any further.. I think he’s got s firmer grip on how your machine is configured.


    • #2395772

      If it were not too private, a screenshot of wiztree posted someone could probably discuss any significant problem.


      • #2395824

        Sure, see the screenshots in the attachment. Hope this helps.

        OK, there is a twist here I must warn you about. When I started this Topic, I posted that my problem directory was “DATA”. However, after posting I renamed the “DATA” directory in partition P to “_Installation” in the blind hope this would break the linkages to the other C drive directories. Didn’t work, of course. Just renamed the others.

        I decided to continue to post “DATA”, thinking it didn’t matter if I was consistent. But screenshots are a different matter, so you will see “Installation” in these rather than “DATA”. Told you all that I am stupid. Sorry about this, everyone. I’ll continue to use DATA otherwise since that’s what is out there.

        • #2395841

          Here is a report of duplicate files (user / all users) on my C drive.
          There are no symlinks… each files is in its own folder..

          • #2395867


            As I pointed out in post #2395531, C:\Users\All Users is a symlinkd that points to C:\ProgramData.

            If you run the following command from an elevated cmd prompt…

            dir C:\USERS\*. /a /s | findstr /i "<SYMLINKD> <JUNCTION>"

            You’ll see it’s listed as a <SYMLINKD> for you as well.

            So you don’t have any duplicate files as everything you “think” is in C:\Users\All Users is actually in C:\ProgramData.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2395945


            I ran top100files – Interesting program. But I don’t see a single file from a DATA directory and there should be some. I don’t know what to make of it.

    • #2395846

      Windows never filled them in and shift 2 is @.

      John – it depends on which keyboard layout you are using.  Shift-2 is indeed @ on a US keyboard, but it is ” on a UK keyboard.

      Dell E5570 Latitude, Intel Core i5 6440@2.60 GHz, 8.00 GB - Win 10 Pro

      • #2395946

        Oh. I didn’t pick up on the hint in your user name. I wonder why keyboards are different. Rhetorical thought. 😎

      • #2395985


        I regret my OneDrive oversight. I haven’t worked with it much and didn’t know about symlinks to the PC, so I didn’t think to mention it. I thought things can go up to the cloud, but down to the PC only if I tell OneDrive later to download it. What is confusing me is that I read that OneDrive gives you choices about leaving something there or on the PC. I also took note of right-click context menu options to leave a file on the PC or “Save Space” by sending it to OneNote. Or the option to “Move to OneDrive”. I realize that you, too, are not up on OneNote, so maybe someone else will chime in on this aspect.

        I just tried to locate all the DATA directories on the drive using the Everything search app. The only one it found was my primary one in partition “P:\INSTALL_J-6\DATA”. That must confirm that the files are physically there, where they indeed should be, not just links from OneDrive, or drive C for that matter.

        I believe that you are saying that the “John D (All Users)\DATA” and “This PC\DATA” directories are linked to “P:\INSTALL_J-6\DATA” and not to OneDrive. In fact, in File Explorer I just clicked on the “John D\DATA” directory, then clicked up in the location box where it says “ > John D  > DATA >”. This reveals, ta-da, “P:\INSTALL_J-6\DATA” right as you said it would. However, doing the same with “This PC\DATA” does NOT reveal the same, but simply “DATA”, which is its present location and not pointing elsewhere.

        The process of downloading my files from the web shows them to be going to “This PC\DATA”, not to “P:\INSTALL_J-6\DATA” (the desired location). It’s not even pointing there as I said above. Yet they make it there physically anyway. Yes, I see DATA on C but those are just links if I understand correctly. It leaves me a bit confused as to how this works.

        I still feel that I am close to understanding it all so that I don’t make mistakes in the future. Thank you for your patience and hanging in there with me.


        • #2396033

          Windows can show you files that are actually just an illusion from another part of the drive.  This happens for everyone / everyone who has enabled onedrive, so it is not your fault and is not a problem and is not taking up disk space.   When anyone opens file explorer they see some folders under “this pc.”  There is no location on your hard drive “this pc”.  If you right click a folder such as documents and do properties, you can see the location field like c:\users\username, that is where it really is.

          Onedrive has copying features.  It may copy files to the cloud and/or create a copy on local disks – not an illusion – that does take up space.

          There have been some articles posted by askwoody authors explaning about OneDrive, also see here

          Last, a guess – if your drive is more full than it should be, I think of two options.  Create a folder that is not mirrored by onedrive – not part of my documents, user, or data and move some large files there.  Example C:\Bigfiles

          Or, set onedrive to the option “free up space”.


    • #2395871


      The attachment in your post #2395824 shows you’re using OneDrive.

      Your issue could have been resolved much quicker if you’d mentioned that to begin with as the duplicate folders you’re worried about are most likely the “special” icons OneDrive creates for items that have been synced with the cloud.

      Don’t use OneDrive myself so can’t help you with exactly why the contents aren’t the same between the same folders, but a quick google search reveals many instances were others have multiple OneDrive folders on their PC’s with different dates for the files in them (seems to be an issue with exactly how OneDrive is set to sync items between your PC and the cloud.)

    • #2396022


      You’re not the only one who doesn’t understand why certain folders Windows creates function the way they do.

        I.e. for every “user folder” in C:\Users\ there’s a folder in C:\Users\user’s name\AppData\Local\ called “Application Data” that’s actually a junction pointing to C:\Users\user’s name\AppData\Local\

      That’s correct, it actually points to its own location, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?!?!

      It also means any search of a user’s folder will always return a massive amount of results because that particular junction causes the same folder to keep getting searched over and over again ad infinitum.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2396036

        I.e. for every “user folder” in C:\Users\ there’s a folder in C:\Users\user’s name\AppData\Local\ called “Application Data” that’s actually a junction pointing to C:\Users\user’s name\AppData\Local\

        This doesn’t exist for three users of my Windows 10.

        Windows 10 Pro version 21H2 build 19044.1288 + Microsoft 365 (group ASAP)

        • #2396055

          It’s a hidden protected system folder so, to see it, you need to select the “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” and uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” on the View tab of Folder Options.

          • #2396056

            I.e. for every “user folder” in C:\Users\ there’s a folder in C:\Users\user’s name\AppData\Local\ called “Application Data” that’s actually a junction pointing to C:\Users\user’s name\AppData\Local\ That’s correct, it actually points to its own location, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?!?!

            It is not a junction point, it’s merely a shortcut, and it’s only there for backward compatibility.  The only time it gets used is for an installation of software for earlier versions of Windows.  “Application Data” has been superceded by “AppData”.  A program written for Vista would be looking for “Application Data” in its installation routine.

            It can be deleted with a right-click > Delete.

            Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
            "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
            "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

    • #2396058

      This is “Library” behavior, not the behavior of a normal folder.  I’ve read through this thread, and nothing I’ve read here will work to remedy this.  To remedy this would require drive imaging, registry editing, mounting drive images and pulling files and folders from those images.

      I could sort it out if I had your machine, but it’s a bit complex to try to do via AskWoody thread.  There are lots of specific details that I would have to know, very explicit instructions you would have to follow, and a couple of software tools you would need with which you’re more than likely not familiar.

      Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
      "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
      "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

    Viewing 12 reply threads
    Reply To: Cannot Remove Duplicated Data on C: Drive

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