A hidden share is a shared folder that administrators create on any Windows operating system. The difference between the normal shared folder and a hidden shared folder is that the shared folder that is hidden is not visible to the users who access the file server or the computer, on which the hidden shared folder resides. Even if network users use UNC path to the target computer, the folder that is shared as hidden is not visible. The only way to access the hidden shared folder is to type the exact UNC path to the folder itself.
A shared folder can be made hidden by specifying the share name to the folder followed by a ‘$’. If a shared name does not contain ‘$’, it is shared normally and is visible to everyone who uses the UNC path to access the target computer.
Benefits and Scalability of Hidden Shared Folders
Shared folders are kept hidden so that they can be prevented from any unauthorized access from anywhere throughout the network. The best way to get the most out of the hidden share feature is to share the folder, and make the share hidden by adding a ‘$’ at the end of the share name of the folder. Once it is done, the exact UNC path to the hidden shared folder must be given to the individuals, who the administrators want to allow the access to the folder.
This remarkably increases the security of the data stored in the shared folder, and protects it from getting stolen by reducing the vulnerabilities.
While sharing the folder, administrators can specify multiple shared names and all or some of the names can be kept hidden. While users access the UNC path to the target computer, where shared folders are located, the users can see all the shared names of a single shared folder as a separate entity. For example, if folder ‘A’ is shared and the administrators have assigned two share names to it, namely ‘Y’ and ‘Z’, users who access the target computer using its UNC path would see only the shared name of folder, which in this case are ‘Y’ and ‘Z’. While sharing, if the administrators have added another share name to the folder and have kept it hidden, the hidden shared name does not get displayed whatsoever.
Making a Hidden Shared Folder
In order to create a hidden shared folder, administrators of a Windows 7 computer must follow the steps given below:
- Log on to Windows 7 computer with administrator account.
- Navigate and locate the folder that has to be shared and hidden.
- Once located, right-click the target folder, and from the context menu click Properties.
- On the folder properties box, go to Sharing tab and click Advanced Sharing button.
- On the opened Advanced Sharing box, check Share this folder checkbox.
- In the enabled Share name field, leave the default shared name intact, but add a $ to make the share hidden.
- Click OK when done, and close all the opened boxes and windows.