Normally we look for ways to show hidden files to make some changes. There may be cases where it can be useful to hide files and folders.
Especially when a PC with Windows 10 is accessible to multiple users, it can be useful to steal some files from prying eyes. There are several ways to hide files. We will present two of them, one simple and quick but not very safe, and one more complex but definitely safer.
How to Hide Files and Folders in Windows
Windows has always allowed setting “Hidden” as an attribute of files and folders. The “Hidden” attribute does not encrypt files in any way, it simply does not make them normally visible in Windows Explorer and Windows Search.
To hide the files by changing the attribute just:
- Select the files or folders you want to make hidden (even altogether)
- Right-click on it, and in the context menu right-click on “Properties”
- Check the “Hidden” item in the “Attributes” section
- Finally, click on the “Apply” button
We wrote “normally” because, if the “Hidden items” option is checked, at the top of the “View” tab of Windows Explorer, the files will appear with a transparent icon. By default, when installing the system, the option is not checked but it is worth checking in any case.
In the latest versions of Windows 10 there is also a useful shortcut: always in the top bar of the Explorer, in the “View” tab, there is the handy item ” Hide selected items “. To hide your files then just select them and press this button.
You soon understand why this is a very simple but at the same time insecure way to hide your files.
A safer option: make them “system files”
A slightly safer way is to make the system files, so that simple option can’t make them visible. There is actually an option to make hidden system files visible too but it is more hidden and therefore less used:
To make hidden system files visible: open the Windows Explorer, go to the top of the “View” tab, click on the “Options” button, then in the window that opens click on the “View” tab and then remove the checkmark next to the item “Hide protected system files “. Instead,
To make your files and folders system and hidden :
- Click on the Windows “Start” button;
- Write cmdand press the “Enter” key on the keyboard;
- The Command Prompt window will open, so type “ attrib +s +h” (always without quotes) and press space;
- At this point, to make your normal files system files, drag them to the Prompt window and their path will appear next to the command;
- It will be possible to press the “Enter” key on the keyboard to send the command.
To return the files to the original situation, you can use the exact same procedure, but in step 3 use the string “ attrib -s -h” in the Prompt to remove the attributes from a file or folder.
How to use the One Drive safe
The previous solutions are weak because they do not offer adequate protection at the encryption level.
OneDrive Personal Vault is a safe area for users with Windows 10 operating systems to keep their most important files. It is a personal cloud safe, accessible from a computer with Windows 10 installed, from a mobile app for mobile phones and even from a web browser, after entering your personal credentials.
Access can only be made after; authentication, which makes this area safe. Various methods are available to authenticate: via biometric data such as fingerprints, PIN or password and you are automatically logged out after a short period of inactivity.
All files are encrypted and saved on a special encrypted area on your disk on Windows 10 and in the cloud.
This convenient feature is limited by Microsoft: basic ( free ) users with the free 5 GB One Drive subscription and users with the 100 GB plan are limited to encrypting and hiding only 3 files. On the other hand, the number of files you can place in the Vault with a subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal or Family is unlimited.
To activate your Personal Vault :
- Connect to the Personal Vault page ;
- Press the “Go to My Drive” button;
- Log in with your username and password credentials (make sure they are the same set on Windows);
- Inside your Drive, press the icon with the safe;
- On the screen that appears, click on “Next” and follow the instructions. You will be asked to set the authentication method.
Your safe will be ready and will appear in your and Windows Explorer and One Drive folders. At this point, you can click on it to authenticate and paste the files of your interest. Or if you are on a mobile client or Web version, you can access the service, click on the safe, login, press the “Upload” button and select your files to be safe.