Tag Archives: windows 7

The Project Location is not Trusted – Dealing with the Dreaded Unblock

The Project Location is not Trusted

Dealing with the dreaded blocked files problem

Quickly Unblocking files marked as Unsafe

Ever download a Zip (or other files) and have to manually “Unblock” one or more files through Windows Explorer’s Properties dialog, like this?

Perhaps you been mystified by a message like this one from Visual Studio?

Mysterious Visual Studio error message

Read on to understand what’s happening and to learn how to more easily deal with Unblocking such downloaded files on Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

Why does this happen? Why do files become “Blocked”?

It appears that Internet Explorer (versions 7 and  8, maybe late patches in IE 6) applies the “block” in a stream (see below for more on streams). Some programs handle these “blocked” files more gracefully than others (looks like the latest Adobe PDF reader can read files like this w/o error).

I’ve seen blocking happen when downloading Visual Studio solutions from the web or from an email. I’ve also seen it when downloading documents to disk for use later. You can view the file’s properties in Windows Explorer to see if the block is there (look for the “Unblock” option, as seen above).

Another option is to use Notepad as illustrated in Colin Mackay’s Tip of the Day from nearly a year ago:

notepad MyDownloadedFile.zip:zone.identifier

Of course, substitute your filename in instead of BostonAzureSite.zip, but keep everything else identical. You will see the external zone stream:


Windows is protecting us from ourselves. I guess if you don’t know what you are doing, you could hurt yourself; you’ve downloaded something “untrusted” from the interweb. This “protection” is in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and apparently can even appear in Windows XP if certain Microsoft software updates are installed. I assume this has some benefits to someone!

But if you are a programmer / hacker / techie, and are comfortable hacking and generally know what you are doing, read on…

Easily Unblock downloaded files marked by IE as Unsafe

Normally, to Unblock files, you need to visit them one at a time with Windows Explorer, pop up the properties, and click on the Unblock button. This is tedious. If you want to be able to Unblock files more quickly, including whole directory trees at once, then consider doing the following.

Go get streams.exe from the big brains at Systinternals (which is part of Microsoft) and copy the executable to c:\bin\streams.exe. (If you put it somewhere else, make a compensating adjustment in the next step.)

Use Notepad to save the following into a text file named unblock-menu.reg and save it to disk:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


@="c:\\bin\\streams.exe -d -s \"%1\""


@="c:\\bin\\streams.exe -d \"%1\""

What do these Registry Settings do?

This file lists some registry settings that will allow you to invoke streams.exe from the right-click context menu in Windows Explorer. Depending on whether you right-click on a folder or a file, the context menu will vary, as will the action. For a folder (directory), the registry setting says “call the program streams.exe with the parameters ‘-d -s’ and name-of-whatever-folder-i-clicked-on” which will cause streams.exe to visit each file in that directory tree and remove its streams information. If you right-click on just one file, the command is similar, except does not use the “-s” flag (which says to recurse into subdirectories).

Now install these registry settings by executing this file, probably by double-clicking on unblock-menu.reg from Windows Explorer. You will probably get a warning from Windows saying you must be nuts to attempt to modify the registry. However, if you are a programmer you are probably cool with it (and may also be nuts).

Now you are ready for the next time Windows protects you from yourself by blocking content you didn’t want marked as unsafe in the first place. You can right-click on any file or directory on your computer and select “Unblock” and that will apply the Unblock process. If you apply it to a file, it will only impact that file. If you apply it to a directory (aka folder) then it will recursively apply to all files and directories below that folder.

Here’s what you will see when you right-click on a directory / folder from Windows Explorer – note the new option:

And here’s what you will see when you right-click on a file:

Other Options

I learned about the streams.exe utility from a handy post about unblocking files for Vista. In that same post, they describe how to turn the feature off altogether using the Policy Editor.

Caveat Emptor

With great power comes great responsiblility.

I do not advise applying streams.exe to C:\ as I have no idea whether it is ever a good idea to remove all streams from all files. This may in fact be a very bad thing to do. I just don’t know.  I am personally comfortable doing it with Visual Studio projects and various documents I’ve downloaded, and have not run into any trouble, but be careful out there…

Note that the streams utility will nuke *all* the streams. So if your files contain useful additionals streams, this is probably not going to be a helpful strategy. I expect this is not likely to be a problem for the vast majority of people.

Interesting write-up on Alternate Data Streams, which are a feature of NTFS file system. Even some interesting streams hacks out there.


Creating a Windows 7 Virtual Machine Image using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007


Executive Summary

This post describes how to install Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, followed by a detailed walk-through of how to create a virtual machine image of a fresh Windows 7 installation using Virtual PC 2007.

In this post I concentrate on creating a Virtual PC image for Windows 7, but the steps for the other operating systems are similar.

Note this post deals with concerns for Developers. This post does not cover use of (related) virtualization techniques which are very popular today on the server-side.

Why Use Virtual Machines?

There are several reasons to use a Virtual PC-managed virtual machine for development:

You don’t want to install Pre-Release software (like a CTP – Community Technology Preview, which means “very rough”) or beta software directly on your development machine. A virtual machine environment makes it easy to manage these without risking your real machine.

You want to experiment. You may want to try out some testing with 4 GB or RAM, then maybe with 1/2 GB or RAM – so you know what to expect. Or you to keep testing something that changes your machine – and need to “start from scratch” frequently.

You want to run multiple operating systems. You may want to run Windows 7 to make sure your apps run fine on it – but you also don’t want to give up XP quite yet. You can run Windows 7 within a Windows XP host.

You want to set up a machine configuration and reuse it. You go through a lot of trouble to get your configuration “just so” and now want to share that with colleagues – or with yourself (on your home machine).

Are there other Virtualization options?

If you are a developer running XP -or- are running Win 7 on hardware that does not support hardware virtualization, Virtual PC 2007 is very likely what you want.

If you are running Windows 7, you can look into Virtual PC (sometimes seen as Virtual PC 7) (which includes XP Mode). Unlike Virtual PC 2007 which will work regardless of whether you have hardware virtualization, Virtual PC will work ONLY WHEN your computer supports hardware virtualization. Does my PC support hardware virtualization (or XP Mode)?

Unlike Virtual PC 2007, Virtual PC is for Windows 7 will not work on XP (but will work on the Windows 7 beta, sometimes known as Vista :-).

Only one of Virtual PC -or- Virtual PC 2007 can be installed concurrently on any given machine.

From Microsoft, other vendors, and open source, there are other sources of virtualization technology, and some might even be compatible with Virtual PC or VHD. [Did you know VHD format is an open standard?]. Though, consider that Virtual PC 2007 does not cost anything beyond the Windows license you (presumably) already have. Microsoft has many virtualization solutions, some with different purposes, such as App-V which is more for enterprise roll-out of apps (get it? App-V) to minimize incompatibilities due to other apps or environmental changes.

For developers, let’s assume (for reasons stated above in prior section) that you want a parallel universe to run other software within – safely – like an early beta… Virtual Machine images make these scenarios possible and easy! Let’s get down to business and walk through how to install & configure these virtual images.

Ready to Get Started?

Enable Hardware Virtualization in your Computer

The newer your PC, the more likely it is that it supports hardware acceleration for Virtualization. If you have this, you want to enable it for better performance. You may need to enable it in your BIOS. Unfortunately, the specific instructions will vary by computer manufacturer, so you’ll need to search the web for steps to enable Hardware Assisted Virtualization.

Installing Virtual PC 2007

Visit the download page for Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 download page for Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 sp1 and then select the appropriate version for your system (that is, 32- or 64-bit version).


Once downloaded, install it.


If you already have an earlier version of Virtual PC installed, you will likely see this self-explanatory message to uninstall the older version. If you are upgrading to Virtual PC 2007 sp1 from Virtual PC 2007, the installer will handle it for you.


Go to your trusty Add or Remove Programs applet and remove any remnants of old Virtual PC installs and proceed.

You can run Virtual PC 2007 and look in Help > About to see which version you are running. Version “Microsoft Virtual PC” is Virtual PC 2007 sp1, which is the one expected by the rest of this post.

Installing Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Run Virtual PC 2007 installer




.. fill in your own info here, of course.


I kept the default installation location and let it rip. It completed around 2 minutes later.


Create fresh Windows 7 virtual machine environment using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Download Your Windows 7 ISO Image

In order to install Windows 7, you need a copy of Windows 7. This could be a retail version of Windows 7 (from a DVD), but let’s make the assumption here that since you are a developer, you will be using a download image from MSDN that comes down as an ISO file, such as en_windows_7_professional_x86_dvd_x15-65804.iso. Note that you will need to install a 32-bit operating system to run under Virtual PC 2007. Log in to your MSDN account and select an appropriate version of Windows 7 to download, download it, and also be sure to copy the Activation Key (if applicable).

Run Upgrade Advisor

You may wish to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor on your machine to make sure Windows 7 will be happy (as of this writing, the upgrade advisor tool is in beta). Assuming that goes well..

Run Virtual PC 2007

Run Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. From the opening screen, click the “New…” button:


The wizard will start. Click the “Next >” button:



Select “Create a virtual machine” and click “Next >” button…

Give your new Virtual Machine an appropriate name:


I also changed my location:


Select “Other” as Operating system and click “Next >” …


The recommended RAM will likely not be sufficient, so click “Adjusting the RAM” option:


How much memory is right? Considering Windows 7 system requirements (which call for at least 1 GB in the 32-bit version) and Visual Studio 2010 (beta 1) system requirements (which also calls for 1 GB (though not an additional 1 GB), you will hopefully be able to allocate at least 1 GB. I have 3 GB on my host machine, so I allocated 1.5 GB (1024 MB + 512 MB = 1536 MB). These values can also be tweaked later using Virtual PC.


I chose to create a new virtual disk:

For disk space, you have another set of decisions – Windows 7 wants 15 GB, Visual Studio 2010 wants 3 GB, so I rounded up to a nice even 18.5 GB (since I don’t have an abundance of space here):


Click “Next >” and you are almost done with this step.


Click “Finish” and now we are in business within Virtual PC:


Click on “Azure Dev” (or whatever you called your image) and click “Start” button to proceed:

If you have trouble starting your virtual machine due to not enough memory available, as in the following message, you either need to adjust its memory requirements of free up some memory.

You might consider throttling back your Anti-Virus software which could be a big consumer of memory (I disabled the on-the-fly file-system protection). Also, of course, close all unnecessary processes. The long-term solution is to buy a 64-bit machine with oodles of memory and be happy with that.

Once you have enough memory available, you will see the virtual machine complain very soon as it craps out after spinning up and thinking for a couple of minutes:


This is expected. You still need to install Windows 7 to move this along. To do this, make sure you have a ready-to-go image of Windows 7 as an ISO file (as you might download from MSDN) or physical media. You have two menu options, one for each of these cases:


In my case, I selected “Capture ISO Image…” and installed from there. Note that you navigate your host file-system for the ISO image to capture – not the file-system on your virtual machine, since that does not yet exist.


Click “Open” and notice how the CD menu on the virtual machine has been updated:


Now you can reboot your virtual machine to let the installation on the captured ISO image run (as if it was auto-starting to install on a physical machine). To reboot, choose Reset from the Action menu:


You will be warned:


But since you don’t have any unsaved changes to worry about, select the Reset button and proceed with the reset. (You have saved some information, you may be thinking, like memory and hard disk configuration; but that is all metadata about your image – not changes within the virtual machine itself – so there is no problem here.)

The reset begins…


Here is a warning which we will come back to. Dismiss this for now:


The system will chug and chug for a looong time – mine took around two hours to run (the good news is I let this run while I was watching the New England Patriots game this Sunday; the bad news is the Patriots fell to the Jets):


You will then proceed to install Windows 7 … mostly you will be just moving along without much fanfare, though you will need to name your “computer”, come up with a username (and optionally a password), and will need your Activation Key for Windows 7. Here is a good guide for installing Windows 7 on Virtual PC 2007. (And another.)

Don’t that forget the magic key/mouse combo to un-capture your mouse from the Virtual Machine is Right-Alt while dragging the mouse!!


After you get Windows 7 all configured, you probably still want to come back and install some updates:



But that’s the end of the detailed tour. You should now have a usable baseline virtual machine image that you can reuse, share, play with, etc. Make sure you create a back-up copy! And have a look at the features which allow you to manage roll-backs.

Good luck!