Last month, it was revealed that Windows 10 contains a weird bug in which the OS throws an error message that the drive is corrupted and that you should reboot the system, when a certain location is accessed via the Command Prompt or a browser. While Microsoft appears to have quietly fixed the issue in the latest Insider Preview build 21322, it still appears to be present in other versions of Windows 10.
Bleeping Computer reports that when you run the change directory "cd" command on the Command Prompt with a specific location, Windows warns that "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable", recommending that you reboot the machine with chkdsk to fix the drive. This happens even when users with low privileges access the NTFS volume. Microsoft had previously stated that the corruption message is inaccurate and the drive isn't actually corrupted, but another report from OSR claims that in its testing, one instance of Windows 10 failed to reboot even after repeated chkdsk.
Microsoft has fixed the issue in its latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21322 pushed out a few days ago, and it does not allow users to access the problematic location as can be seen below:
Naturally, we tested accessing the location on our virtual machines powered by other, older versions of Windows too. On Windows Vista, the location in question is not accessible either:
However, when we tried to access the location via Command Prompt on an old machine with Windows 10 Pro version 1803 - which is an older version of the operating system that is no longer supported. True to reports, there is an error message that the "file or directory is corrupted and unreadable", and the system recommends that you close all apps, restart the PC, and repair drive errors to fix the issue:
In our case, Windows 10 fortunately did manage to reboot with chkdsk and did not get stuck in a loop. We expect other versions of Windows 10 prior to Insider build 21322 to behave in the same way, barring any serious anomalies:
It is important to note that other vendors and companies are trying to block access to the problematic location from their end. Mozilla Firefox 85.0.1 has a check which disables access to locations with the ":$" symbol, while OSR has released an unofficial patch which disallows access to the path. That said, it is rather strange that Microsoft is not pushing out a hotfix for older versions of Windows 10. We have seen similar issues with other operating systems such as iOS in the past, and while they may not be dangerous in most cases, it is always worth fixing these issues to prevent viral pranks that can be a nuisance for PC owners who are not tech-savvy.