Thursday, February 14, 2008

How to hide files and folders on Windows the easy way

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You will find a number of tricks and utilities to hide folders containing your personal and some very personal files, on Windows. These tricks ranges from simply checking the Hidden attributes in the properties of the folders to using tools that password protect the folders or camouflage the folders. These tricks are good, but all of them suffer from one problem - they prevent you from quickly accessing these folders when you need it.

If your folders are simply hidden, you will have to go to folder options to enable viewing of hidden files and then make sure you disable this option when you shut down your computer. This trick is too easy and everybody knows it, so it's useless. If you use folder locking software, then some require you to type the password every time you open the folder - very annoying. Some need to be unlocked only once per session; not very secure either when your snooping friends drop by when your folder is unlocked. Also even if the folder is locked and nobody knows the password except you, a locked folder is sure to get everyone curious. No, we don't want anybody to suspect anything. We want to keep our files totally hidden and still access it as easily and quickly as any others.

The best way to do this is to hide an entire drive or partition. Create a separate partition on your hard disk for you all important files. You can assign any letter to the drive but it's better if you choose a letter that's far from your last drive letter. Say for example, you have drives C, D, E, and F. Then don't assign G to the drive you intend to hide. Instead assign something like P.

Now open the registry editor by going to Start>Run and then typing regedit. Navigate to the following locations:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
\Policies\Explorer

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
\Policies\Explorer


On the right hand panel, right click and create a new DWORD and name it NoDrives. Now you have to assign a code to NoDrives depending on the drive you want to hide. The following is the decimal value associated with each drive letter:

A: 1, B: 2, C: 4, D: 8, E: 16, F: 32, G: 64, H: 128, I: 256, J: 512, K: 1024, L: 2048, M: 4096, N: 8192, O: 16384, P: 32768, Q: 65536, R: 131072, S: 262144, T: 524288, U: 1048576, V: 2097152, W: 4194304, X: 8388608, Y: 16777216, Z: 33554432, ALL: 67108863

If you want to hide drive P, then put the value 32768. Make sure you select the radio button Decimal when you save it. If you want to hide drive P and D, then you will have to use the value 8(D) + 32768(P), i.e. 32776.

For the change to take effect you have to restart your computer, but there is an easier way. Open Task Manager and select the tab Processes. Now terminate the process explorer.exe. Once you do that all your open windows, the desktop icons and the task bar will disappear. Now click on the tab Application in the task manager and click New Task. Type explorer and hit Enter. The desktop will return and the drive is now hidden.

The hidden drive will not appear in explorer. Nobody will ever now it exist. To access this drive open explorer and type the drive letter followed by a colon (:) and press enter. Bingo! Your drive is back. You can now open files folders and do all other tasks you normally do within explorer. Close the explorer window and your drive is gone. You should type the correct drive letter to open the drive, otherwise it remains hidden. Of course, it's isn't as foolproof as encrypting the files but you can rest assured that nobody will accidentally stumble upon your hidden files.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I have been using "free hide folderr" which is quite useful. As you told, there is an overhead of remembering the password. But I guess it's not that big a deal. The passwords are encrypted I believe, so nobody can hack it that easily. :)
    http://www.skipser.toolsbysk.com/p/2/p/how-to-really-hide-files-in-windows.html

    ReplyDelete

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