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How To Determine Which Program Generated A File?

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  1. #1


    Portland, Oregon, USA
    Posts : 181
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64, Windows Server 2012 R2 x64

    How To Determine Which Program Generated A File?


    I've had this problem for awhile, finding strange but not necessarily harmful files, and wondering which program created them, so I can determine if they're safe to delete. I've tried Googling the file extensions, sometimes it yields answers, sometimes not. I'm guessing I would have to install a program that monitors/records all files written to the HDD. Unless there is another way.

    Anyone know?
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  2. #2



    Inverness, FL
    Posts : 1,168
    Win 8.1.1 Pro 64 bit, Win 7 Home 64 bit


    If you Right click on a file and then Left Click "properties" that may tell you.
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  3. #3



    Posts : 480
    Windows 8 Pro x64


    File properties generally don't reveal the program, so set filter by path in Process Monitor and catch it in action.
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  4. #4



    Sloe Deth, Californicatia
    Posts : 3,861
    Windows 8 Pro with Media Center/Windows 7


    Sometimes you can find this out in Event Viewer as well, if a process creates a file, it should say that in the events.

    Do you have Pro Tools installed? Pro Tools uses a Licensing method which generates a bunch of files in your AppData folders - If they are a bunch of randomized letters and numbers, you can generally delete these. But Pro Tools from version 8 up, creates these due to the PACE licensing. Other Production Programs use something similar, possibly AutoDesk and maybe even Adobe.
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  5. #5



    Adelaide
    Posts : 1,335
    Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 17 MATE (64 bit)

    Process Monitor


    Quote Originally Posted by Vadikan View Post
    File properties generally don't reveal the program, so set filter by path in Process Monitor and catch it in action.
    Agreed.
    Process Monitor is a useful tool.

    IMO, the SysInternals tools are better than the built-in Windows tools (e.g. Process Explorer).
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  6. #6



    Sloe Deth, Californicatia
    Posts : 3,861
    Windows 8 Pro with Media Center/Windows 7


    I don't like that it totally takes over Task Manager once you start it though.
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  7. #7



    Adelaide
    Posts : 1,335
    Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 17 MATE (64 bit)

    I don't understand


    Quote Originally Posted by XweAponX View Post
    I don't like that it totally takes over Task Manager once you start it though.
    Sorry?

    Do you mean Process Explorer?
    You have to choose the "Replace" option for that to happen.

    I can run both at the same time (Task Manager and Process Explorer).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails PE & TM.png  
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  8. #8



    Sloe Deth, Californicatia
    Posts : 3,861
    Windows 8 Pro with Media Center/Windows 7


    No, I swear it took over my task manager- Without me telling it too. I Opened it and shut it. Then I tried to open Task Manager later from the taskbar, and Process Explorer came up.

    It runs a TSR.
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  9. #9



    Adelaide
    Posts : 1,335
    Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 17 MATE (64 bit)

    Weird


    Since I'm in Linux Mint right now, here is a screenshot from a W7 VM.

    Click image for larger version

    There is an option in the Options menu that allows you to replace Task Manager.
    Even if you choose that option, Task Manager should return when you uncheck it (it did for me when I tried it a few years ago).
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  10. #10



    Sloe Deth, Californicatia
    Posts : 3,861
    Windows 8 Pro with Media Center/Windows 7


    I'm not sure which OS this happened with. It may have been XP. But I went to MS one day and spent half the day downloading ALL of those Systernals - Didn't Symantec used to own those? Maybe I have the Symantec version, ripped out of the original POS Symantec Program it was embedded in? I am sure I remember seing Process Explorer inside of a Symantec Program.

    Wait a Minute - Systernals and Sysinternals, are those the same thing? Maybe I am getting something mixed up.
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How To Determine Which Program Generated A File?
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