The case of the mysterious Alternate Data Stream query

Raymond Chen

A customer was running Windows Server 2003 (“Still in support until 2015!”) and they have some custom application that monitors all disk accesses. They noticed that there were a lot of failed Alternate Data Stream queries coming from Explorer, and that was causing the custom application’s logs to fill with largely useless information. These Alternate Data Stream queries are being made in order to extract file metadata for the pop-up infotip. (Windows later abandoned the use of Alternate Data Streams for file metadata since Alternate Data Streams were so fragile and were easily damaged or lost.) The customer found that if they unchecked Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items, this solved the problem on some of their machines, but not all of them. They asked the Explorer team what else needs to be done to stop the ADS queries. The piece they were missing was the status bar. If the status bar is enabled, then it shows the same information that would have appeared in the infotip.

Turning off the status bar fixed their problem.


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