desktop.ini files

[ad]Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you for your wonderful newsletter! I learn something new from each one.

My question is about desktop.ini and rrn.dat files.

I have 3 shortcuts on my desktop as follows:
2 – desktop.ini
1 – desktop(1).ini

If I try to delete them, I receive the following message:
“Windows or another program may no longer work correctly”

They also appear in the Documents library as:
desktop.ini 8/15/15 configuration settings
desktop.ini 7/13/09 configuration settings

Music library
desktop.ini – no additional info
desktop.ini – no additional info

Pictures library
desktop.ini – 7/13/09
desktop.ini – 10/18/12

Videos library
desktop.ini – no additional info
desktop.ini – no additional info

Also appearing in the Documents library is:
rrn.dat 2/25/13 dat file

What are these files for and can they be safely deleted or hidden?

Thank you, Vicki in Montana

Dear Vicki,

Actually, everyone has those desktop.ini files on their computer, it is just that most people never see them. The fact that you can see them means that you have your computer set to show hidden and protected operating system files.

What are these files for? They contain settings that determine the way a folder is displayed on your computer. The reason that you have two of these files in each location that you listed above is because those folders are created by merging two folders, your user folder and the “All Users” folder.

It is safe to delete the files, but Windows will just create new ones, it is better to just change your settings and not show hidden files.

I am not sure about the rrn.dat file, I can’t find any information about it.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • MadRabbit
    • September 8, 2015

    For anyone (Vicky in Montana) worried/puzzled by the desktop.ini files…I always “Shift+Delete” them. (BTW, “Shift+Delete” means they are GONE; not in your Recycle Bin, not able to be restored!) They are “initialization” files, which Windows usually creates after installing a program or changing a setting. My Windows have always run fine without them being on my desktop (or taking up my space in the Recycle Bin). As for any “.dat” files…I usually RIGHT-click them, then try to open them with Notepad (Note to UN check “Always use this program”. If you can’t open it with Notepad, RIGHT-click it again, click “Properties”, see which program it’s associated with. I have gotten a couple rrn.dat files, and, like Elizabeth, Google was NOT my friend those times. A “.dat” file may have to be deleted from Safe Mode. Just my 2 cents, hope it helps someone.

    • mrshvd3
    • September 8, 2015

    To Vicki: If you have Windows 7 (as I do), this might help. To hide the .ini files (and any future ones), do this:

    Open Windows Explorer.
    Click on “Organize” up top, then on “Folder & Search Options” in the dropdown menu..
    Select the “View” tab.
    In “Folder Options”, scroll down to “Hide protected operating systems files (Recommended”). If there is no checkmark, click in the small box to place a checkmark there.
    Click “Apply”, then click “Okay”.

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