Windows Vista Won’t Unset Read-Only Attribute (Fix)

I took my work laptop to a meeting this morning to run into a very strange problem. I recently upgraded to Windows Vista Ultimate from XP Pro. My laptop came with Vista Home Premium, but as we may know, Home Premium can’t work with domains, so I had to install XP Pro (and dig very hard for drivers) until I could get Vista Ultimate ordered. Vista finally came in on Friday, so I took my laptop home and upgraded over the weekend. I installed Service Pack 1 and brought myself current on updates.

I was having a minor problem trying to get OneNote to sync with OneNote Mobile on my Pocket PC. It turns out that problem is what led me to find the major problem.

While I was sitting in the meeting this morning, I opened up a spreadsheet that we created at a previous meeting that I needed for reference. I was immediately asked if I wanted to save. I clicked “yes” only to be told that the document was read-only and I would have to save a copy of it somewhere else. That was when I discovered that all of my documents were marked “read-only.” I right-clicked on some folders and tried to take the “read-only” attribute off, only to find that when I went back into folder properties, the flag was set once again. Using the 3 inch screen on my Pocket PC, I searched Google. I found some instructions to change the attributes through the attrib command at an administrator command prompt, but nothing worked. I found other solutions to change the owner. I changed ownership of my folders to admin, then back to myself (I am admin anyway.)

After searching high and low for a solution, I found it myself.

I copied my folders onto a flash drive. Then I deleted the original, then copied it back. Viola, I had access to my files and folders again. I could even get OneNote to sync with OneNote Mobile on my Pocket PC once more.

So, if you upgrade from XP to Vista, and find your documents set to read-only (some were even inaccessible to me), just copy them to a flash drive. This works because flash drives are apparently FAT32, which doesn’t support permission (according to a source I checked.) Copying to a flash drive resets all of the permissions when the files are copied back to the main drive.

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