Accessing Administratively Shared Drives in Microsoft Windows 7

In Microsoft Windows operating systems the concept of administrative sharing is available in which administrators of computers can access the objects on remote computers using Universal Naming Convention or UNC path even if they are not being shared manually. When a Windows operating system is installed on a hard disk drive, Windows automatically configures ‘C:\Windows’ location and all volumes (partitions) of the drive for administrative sharing. However administratively shared drives are always hidden. In case administrators want to access administratively shared drives from remote computers they must provide the UNC paths to the drives followed by ‘$’ and when prompted, they must provide the administrative credentials in order to access the objects remotely.

The matter of fact is that all administratively shared objects are always hidden as a $ is always added to their shared names whereas it is not necessary that all the hidden shared objects are administratively shared. For example if an administrator of a computer shares a folder and use a $ after providing the share name, the folder would be hidden and shared but would not be administratively shared, i.e. no administrative credentials would be required to access the folder.

Default administratively shared objects can be seen by clicking ‘Shared Folders > Shares’ in ‘Computer Management’ snap-in.

Default Administrative Shares

Limitations and Benefits of Default Administrative Shares

Administratively shared entities are always kept in the operating systems to help administrators access the objects via remote computers using UNC paths. This eliminates the requirement of manually sharing the drives/objects that administrators normally do with other entities in the operating systems. Since all the drives and some sensitive locations of the operating systems (for example C:\Windows) are by default administratively shared, administrators can directly access the objects without making modifications in the default configurations of the operating systems.

For security reasons and to make things obvious, whenever an administratively shared object is accessed via network, the operating system displays a box where administrative credentials must be provided. In case wrong credentials are provided or the fields are left blank, access to the object is straightaway denied by the operating system whatsoever.

Accessing Administratively Shared Drive from a Remote Computer

Process of accessing an administratively shared drive is identical to the process of accessing any hidden shared folder with the exception that administrative credentials must be provided to access administratively shared objects. This means that direct UNC path to the desired object must be typed followed by a $. In order to do so steps given below must be followed:

  1. Log on to Windows 7 or any operating system.
  2. Press Windows + R keys simultaneously to initiate Run command box.
  3. In the available text field type the UNC path of the drive of a remote Windows 7 computer followed by a $ (\\FileServer01\C$ in this example).

    Administrative Share

  4. Once done, press Enter key and on the displayed box provide the credentials of the administrator account of the remote Windows 7 computer.
  5. Click OK to access the drive.
Author: Vivek Nayyar

Works as Systems Admin in Siskin Technologies, India. Corporate trainer on Microsoft and Cisco platform. Specialized in Virtualization Technology. LAN Consultant for some local organizations.