PuTTY, Vista and the annoying security warning

I’ve been living for months now with the annoying security warning generated when you open an executable you just downloaded, such as PuTTY.exe. From time to time I’d try to uncheck the “Always ask” checkbox only to have it return on the next run, and periodically I’d search for the anwer.

Turns out there are two ways of getting rid of the warning. First is to use the installer version of PuTTY. But I had done that already. And true enough, it didn’t used to happen until I downloaded PuTTYtray, which didn’t come in the installer.

The only way to fix things is to open the file properties window while it’s in the original download location and unblock the executable. How very annoying.

Fortunately, all my browsers store the downloaded files in the same, default location, which is C:\Users\myusername\Downloads. So I moved the file there, and ta-da, the unblock button appeared in the properties window.


This is one of those times I really have to say a feature of Vista sucks, big-time. I mean, security-wise it’s a good thing that verifications like this are done, but UI-wise it’s insane to hide the option if the file is moved and not tell about it in any way, shape or form.

Obviously the information about the original location of the file is stored somewhere, otherwise the button couldn’t have appeared when I moved it there. Hence the UI should at the very least tell me what is wrong, and where I need to move the file to fix things. Something like this, perhaps:

UI concept: the file properties dialog with information about the problem

The wording and placement of the message could and should be improved, but the key things are: something is not right – there is something about this file you need to know. This is why it’s happening – you shouldn’t have to guess at what’s wrong. And most importantly, this is what you can do about it. Armed with that information, I can make the informed decision on what, if anything, I should do about it.

I’m sure Raymond Chen can give me a dozen reasons why this is technically impossible, or a bad idea security-wise. Still, if the UI is going to refuse to obey me, it should let me know why and let me know how I can fix it. This is making my computer so secure I can’t use it properly either.


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