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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    "Ask me anything" is finding phantom files

    I'm using "Ask me anything" to locate some music files on my computer. When I enter 'Baby Driver', which is an old Simon & Garfunkel song, it gives me this:

    BabyDriverBoth.png

    When I mouse over the upper item of the two, it gives me this, which is a proper listing for that file on my present computer:

    BabyDriverActual.png

    When I mouse over the lower item, it gives me this bogus listing:

    BabyDriverPhantom.png

    I say "bogus" because \\HUB is a computer that I disconnected and sold many months ago, probably (but not certainly) before I switched from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Baby Driver.mp3 was definitely on \\HUB once, but \\HUB is no more. I get similar results when I search for other songs that I remember being on \\HUB. (BTW, \\HUB was never upgraded to Windows 10.)

    What is going on here, and how do I tell Cortana (or whoever she is) that \\HUB is gone?
    Lou Sander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  2. #2
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    You might need to force Windows to rebuild your search index. Click start, then enter "change how windows searches", click on the "Change How Windows Searches" control panel entry, click the advanced button, click the rebuild button.
    Joe

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    I did as you suggested, but the problem still exists. What a mystery!
    Lou Sander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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    Does the folder show up in any library?
    Joe

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    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    No, but there is a clue, maybe.

    The phantom files I've seen all seem to be music files. They were, for the most part, in the same folders on the phantom HUB as they are on the legitimate ALLIANCE HP.

    I do a lot of manipulation of tags on my MP3 files.

    I have removed the Track number tag from the song 'You Can Tell the World' on the file on ALLIANCE HP, and I've repeatedly checked to see that it is removed.

    Yet the Track number shows up in Windows Media Player 12. I'm thinking that it is somehow getting picked up from the phantom file. (I have repeatedly removed and rebuilt my Music library, but it is still there.)
    Lou Sander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    USA

  6. #6
    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    Another clue: When I do an 'Ask me anything' search for \\HUB, I get a window that shows a My Documents folder, with Type 'Share'. It is marked as Availability: Available offline and Offline Status: Offline (not connected) These phantom files were formerly in HUB's My Documents folder.

    I am thinking that somehow my computer is remembering the files that were at one time in HUB's My Document folder.

    In any event, I don't want to "share" anything about HUB, which has been removed and sold. I don't see a way to get rid of this "Share" thing.
    Lou Sander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  7. #7
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    i suspect this is most likely a ShellBags issue (which IMO is a real privacy issue). Basically, Windows records every folder that you access on both local and network devices (including time and date) and stores this data in the registry, deliberately obfuscated (so a search for \\HUB won't work).

    Note that this data is not stored in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE but in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\BagMRU, i.e. per user (and thus identifiable).

    To see what has been recorded, download this small, free, portable utility: Shellbag Analyzer & Cleaner v1.25

    Click on the Analyze button and it will show you what has been recorded. You can then choose to delete records, e.g. related to \\HUB, and see if this fixes the issue you are having. (Let us know!)

    shellbags.png
    Click to enlarge

    Important: If you do use it to clean, make sure you follow the warnings about logging off then on again or rebooting.

    If you have any concerns about privacy then this utility will no doubt prove to be an eye-opener. Why on earth would MS want to store this munged data? Note that the utility will need to be run on each account, as the data is stored per user.

    Another possibility is that it could be recorded by Cortana:

    Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more. (my emphasis)
    However, I think it's more likely that Cortana just sends this info to MS servers rather than store the info locally. Who knows? ('cos MS aren't saying...)

    Hope this helps...
    Last edited by Rick Corbett; 2016-10-25 at 16:29. Reason: Added warning about following instructions

  8. #8
    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    Well, I downloaded and ran it. It shows 5788 Shellbags found, 1351 traces of deleted folders. The top 60 of them were for \\HUB. I only found a few for Music, and the Simon & Garfunkel folders were not among them.

    We seem to be on the track of something here, but I'm reluctant to try a CLEAN for fear of messing something up. After all, my problem isn't a very pressing one.

    What say you?
    Last edited by Lou Sander; 2016-10-25 at 19:05. Reason: spelling
    Lou Sander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  9. #9
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    1. Remove the tick from the topmost checkbox:

    shellbags1.png

    This will de-select all entries.

    2. In the Path column click on the word Path. This will sort the column.

    3. Tick only the entries where the filepath begins with \\HUB.

    4. Click on the Clean button.

    5. Make sure only the top 3 checkboxes are ticked.

    shellbags2.png

    6. Click on the OK button.

    7. Close the program and immediately sign out/sign in or restart.

    Check whether the issue is resolved and let us know. You won't mess anything up. All it is doing is removing the selected registry entries. You could do his by hand in the Registry Editor but it would take ages and, IMO, is more prone to mistakes. This way is far quicker and safer. I've been using it for a while in both Windows 7 and Windows 10 with no adverse effects.

    However, if you want to make a backup before cleaning the entries, do this:

    1. Type regedit in Cortana's search box.

    2. When regedit.exe appears in the search results, right-click on it and choose Run as administrator.

    3. In the left-hand pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\BagMRU.

    4. Right-click on the BagMRU key and select the Export option from the context menu.

    shellbags3.png
    Click to enlarge

    5. Export the key to your desktop as something like BagMRU.reg.

    6. Close the Registry Editor.

    Hope this helps...
    Last edited by Rick Corbett; 2016-10-25 at 20:12. Reason: Added more info

  10. #10
    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    I followed your procedure, which DID remove a lot of \\HUB references. There was a screen at the end offering me the chance to optimize Shellbag. In the absence of its mention by you, I declined to optimize it.

    Unfortunately, my search after that still turns up the bogus music files.

    BTW, I also noticed some Shellbags to other computers that are no longer here, and to some removable thumb drives that are no longer pertinent.

    I am wondering if I should just remove ALL the Shellbags, since there's so much junk involved in them.
    Lou Sander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    USA

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Sander
    Unfortunately, my search after that still turns up the bogus music files.
    Hmmm... I'm at a bit of a loss where Cortana is digging up the info from. I don't think it's a jump list because there's no mention of Cortana using a jump list in this Jump List AppID Master List. I don't think it's UserAssist data because this relates more to programs rather than file locations. Sorry but, as I don't use Cortana at all (I disable it but keep Search), I don't have the day-to-day sort of 'hands on' experience of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Sander
    BTW, I also noticed some Shellbags to other computers that are no longer here, and to some removable thumb drives that are no longer pertinent. I am wondering if I should just remove ALL the Shellbags, since there's so much junk involved in them.
    It won't hurt... Windows will just recreate the entries the next time you access a folder. I chose not to optimize either. I'm guessing that this operation tries to compact the registry (or just the 'current user' hive) after the entries have been cleaned. Whilst I've compacted the registry in Windows 7, I haven't yet done it in Windows 10... so I've played safe and left it.

  12. #12
    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    I don't have any use for Cortana, but I DO like the Search capability.

    How can I get rid of her but keep the search? (I don't have a clear idea of the boundary between the two.)
    Last edited by Lou Sander; 2016-10-26 at 16:11.
    Lou Sander
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  13. #13
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    You can't get rid of Cortana completely yet retain Search, only limit it.

    I use simple registry edits. Have a look at this and following posts.

    Hope this helps...

  14. #14
    5 Star Lounger Lou Sander's Avatar
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    Lots of good stuff there, but I don't want to start messing with the registry. I'll just keep Cortana but never plug in a microphone.

    I like to use the search box for searching my own local stuff, and I'm learning how to use it better. (In spite of its occasionally finding files that aren't there any longer).

    The few times that it searches online for me (usually by accident), it's interesting to see what Edge/Bing does vs. Chrome/Google. Nothing lost there, IMHO.

    RE: Finding phantom files, I'm thinking that this may be the culprit. First, searching for \\HUB. Notice the "Run command", which is mysterious to me:

    searchbox.jpg

    Executing the search gives this. Maybe clearing the Shellbag stuff should have gotten rid of it:

    Capture.JPG

    I can't figure out why it's still here, and I don't seem to be able to access it other than by this search.
    Last edited by Lou Sander; 2016-10-27 at 14:28.
    Lou Sander
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  15. #15
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Sander
    Lots of good stuff there, but I don't want to start messing with the registry. I'll just keep Cortana but never plug in a microphone.

    I like to use the search box for searching my own local stuff, and I'm learning how to use it better. (In spite of its occasionally finding files that aren't there any longer).

    The few times that it searches online for me (usually by accident), it's interesting to see what Edge/Bing does vs. Chrome/Google. Nothing lost there, IMHO.

    RE: Finding phantom files, I'm thinking that this may be the culprit. First, searching for \\HUB. Notice the "Run command", which is mysterious to me:

    searchbox.jpg

    Executing the search gives this. Maybe clearing the Shellbag stuff should have gotten rid of it:

    Capture.JPG

    I can't figure out why it's still here, and I don't seem to be able to access it other than by this search.
    Well, even though we can't see the whole screen, it doesn't look like \\HUB was mapped as a persistent drive so I don't know what to advise.

    I did notice that you appear to have the 'Drives Appearing Twice in Navigation Pane of Windows 10 Explorer' issue. Check this article for more information.

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