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Hiding / Unhiding windows folders on the harddisk

Application General PC Version 1.00
Author OfficeHelp
Tested on versions: Any Windows - should work on any Windows version from 2000

Sometimes, it is nice to be able to keep some secrets from prying eyes. It is possible, in a very simple manner, to hide windows folders so that they don't become visible when browsing or searching the harddisk.

It is very easy to hide folders in Windows. These folders are not visible under the regular Windows folder settings, but in fact they may be made visible with a single tweak. This is very basic privacy. There is, however, the stronger possibility of encryption and the utilization of extra software to add an extra degree of privacy.

Checking how the disk is formatted - Not all formats allow for hiding / encryption

To be able to Encrypt folders, you need to have your hard disk formatted in NTFS. Hiding will work with other formats. This disk format is only available on Microsoft® Windows® 2000 and Microsoft® Windows® XP (forget the old Windows® NT). While the usual standard on Windows XP Professional, many Windows 2000 and XP Home still use FAT32, an older system inherited from Windows 95/98. Only regular hiding will work for FAT32.

This tricks, other than hiding, will NOT WORK with Microsoft® Windows® versions older than 2000.

To check if your disk is formatted in NTFS, do this:

  1. Open (click at) the My Computer icon on your desktop (or Start Menu)
  2. Put the mouse over the desired disk and click on it - XP should display the disk format on the left side of the window (see picture)
  3. Use the right-mouse button and click properties. The properties window will show the disk format type (see picture)

Disk Format

Regularly hidding/unhidding Windows folders - Using the trick EVERYBODY knows

There is a regular way to hide Windows folders. It is very simple but the problem with it is that almost everyone knows how to unhide them - It is also easy.  To hide a Folder, all you need to do is:

1) Select the Folder you want to hide and pout the mouse cursor over it:

2) Use the right mouse button to select Properties:

Hide it from the Properties menu

3) Active the hidden property and apply:

The folder is hidden

But anyone can unhide it again: Just do the opposite and uncheck (deactivate) the Hidden property.

Hidden folders are not always hidden - It depends on the folder settings

Windows by default will hide hidden folders (that's the purpose). But actually its behavior will depend on a system setting that users can normally change. In not hidden, "hidden" folders will be dimmed (lighter in color). The effect is the following:

Hidden folder settings

To change these settings, do this:

1) Select Folder Options on the Tools menu:

Open Folder Options on the Tools menu

2) Select Show / Do not Show and click on the OK button:

Select sheet to hide

Using Encryption - Encoding files so that only your windows user will be able to read them

Instead of hiding (or on top of it, as they can be used both on the same folders and files) it is possible to encrypt files so that only the Windows username used to encode them will be able to read the files. Other users of the same computer will not be able to read them, even if they do see the files on the disk.

This is, of course, true only for users who have their own usernames and passwords on the computer/network. It they use the computer with the same username (common at home), then they are, for the computer, the same person!

To encrypt a file, do this:

1) Select the Folder you want to hide and pout the mouse cursor over it: Select Properties on the right mouse button menu:

Hide it from the Properties menu

2) Select Advanced on the dialog box:

Select sheet to hide

2) Activate the "Encrypt content to secure data" box. Press OK to activate (close both dialogs):

Select sheet to hide

Using extra software

There is also the option to use extra software to protect or hidden your files. Searching Google for it will show some soluctions. For pure hidding purposes, here is a (commercial) solution1:

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