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Can’t access a file, folder, Registry key? MicEnum shows why (maybe)

21 September 2015, Mike Williams

MicEnumWindows integrity levels are a key element of your PC’s security, often manipulated by malware, and one reason why you sometimes can’t access files, folders or Registry keys. But most users don’t even know they exist, because there’s no standard graphical interface for viewing them.

MicEnum is a free portable tool which makes it easy to browse the integrity levels for files, folders and Registry keys, scan for anomalies, and – in some situations – even change them.

The program opens in a “Folder view” tab, an Explorer-type pane listing your drives, folders and files, and their integrity levels. A “Registry view” tab displays your Registry tree, again with the integrity level of each key, typically “Medium” (standard users) or “High” (administrators).

One immediate plus is that objects above your integrity level will be marked “Access is denied”, ensuring they’re visible at a glance, and you’ll at least know that there’s a system-level issue in accessing them.


Spot privileged and inaccessible files, folders and Registry keys at a glance

Malware will sometimes alter integrity levels to gain more privileges, so it’s useful to pay attention to these higher level files.

You would expect system components and your Windows folders to have plenty of High Integrity items, but if there are inaccessible object in your Temp folders (or some other more general location) and you can’t explain why, that might need further explanation.

For a more general check, right-click a folder or Registry key and click Scan. MicEnum then crawls that entire tree and expands anything which hasn’t inherited the integrity level of its parent.

If you see something which is marked as High Integrity, or inaccessible, and you can’t see why it needs that level of access, then check out the files to find out what they are.

Mismatched integrity levels could indicate deeper problems which explain why an application isn’t running properly. (Uninstall, reinstall, and check the integrity levels again, maybe.)

Right-clicking an object gives you an option to change its integrity level, although this only works if you’re able to access it. And even then, is probably best ignored unless you really, really, really know what you’re doing.

There are also options to save the current “session” – the integrity details – and reload them later. This could be handy for dumping the details of someone else’s system, then analysing them on another machine.

MicEnum isn’t something you’ll need every day, but just being able to see inaccessible objects at a glance can be useful sometimes. Grab a copy for your troubleshooting toolkit.

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