Your PC or laptop may contains so many important files or folder such as private documents, photos and videos you don’t want other people to read or view it. To hide folder on windows explorer, there are several ways you need to do if you are using windows platform. You can hide it, turn it into system file, hide using registry or encrypt using bitlocker.
Hide Folder/Hide Files via Properties
The simplest way to hiding file or folder on windows is via properties. You can do it by right click the file or folder you want to hide. See picture below!
Properties window will appears. Click hidden and then clock OK.
Computer users commonly hiding files or folders using this way. But your files or folder still easy to access by other users by accessing Folder Option on File Explorer/Windows Explorer. They able to see your private files/folders by accessing View > Folder Option > View and check Show hidden files, folders and drives.
So I don’t recommend this way because it too easy to break. Even beginner users knew it.
Hide Folder/Hide Files Using System Attribute via Command Prompt
This way slightly different with previous way. Now we will add system atribute on files/folders. But adding system attribute can not be added via file explorer/windows explorer. We have to using Command Prompt (CMD) to adding it. To access Command Prompt, you can press Win Key + R to show Run dialog box and then type cmd and press Enter. You can also using Search on taskbar and type cmd.
Now switch directory to drive where your file/folder are located. For example, I store my folder on drive D. So I have to switch it to D by typing D: on Command Prompt and press Enter. Now you are switched to drive D.
I have a folder named My Data. I want to hide it using hidden and system attribute. But the first thing I have to do is make sure the folder don’t has space. So I rename My Data into MyData. Now type attrib MyData +h +s /s /d and press Enter.
Now your folder is hidden with system attribute. It slightly more secure than first trick, but it still easy to break by accessing View > Folder Option > View and check Show hidden files, folders and drives. And also uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recomended).
It still easy to break, still easy for other users to see your private folder. So I don’t recommend this way.
Hide Drives Using Registry Editor (NoDrive)
The next to hide files/folders is via Registry Editor (regedit). You can access Registry Editor by typing regedit on Run dialog box. Press Win Key + R to open Run. Type regedit and press Enter.
On the right side window, right click New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Give it name NoDrives.
After you created DWORD (32-bit) Value, you have to decide which drives you want to hide. For example in this case I want to hide drive D only. Double click to open DWORD Value you just created. Then click Decimal and enter 8 on Value data.
If you want to hide another drive or multiple drives, you need to open reference on https://ss64.com/nt/syntax-nodrives.html to get the value data you should enter.
Keep in mind that hiding files/folders using Registry Editor can apply to entire drive. It means affect to all files/folders on the drive. For example, I want to hide drive D on file explorer/windows explorer. So all files/folders on drive D will be hidden.
Now restart you PC/Laptop to take effect!.
Disadvatages: It only hide drive, but not restricted access.
Hide Drives Using Registry Editor (NoViewOnDrive)
This way is almost same with previous way. On previous way, you just hide drives only. But not restricted access. Other users still able to access it by type drive letter on file explorer/windows explorer.
When you using NoViewOnDrive, It will block other users to access it. So it more safe than using NoDrives. The difference is only DWORD (32-bit) Value you add on Registry Editor.
This trick is more safe than all previous ways. It will be more powerful if you disable Registry Editor. So other accounts can’t access it.
Lock Drives Using BitLocker Encryption
BitLocker is a security feature included with Microsoft Windows. You can find it on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and of course Windows 10. But this feature is available on Pro/Ultimate version only. So if you are using Windows 10 Home, you can’t use bitlocker. You need to consider to upgrade your Windows version.
When you use BitLocker, both you or other users have to enter password to accessing the drive. The password is a key to decrypt the drive.
Following are step by step to protect/encrypt drive using bitlocker:
Decide the drive you want to protect/encrypt. Make sure your important data on that drive. There are no other users data on it. For example, I have a folder MyData on drive F. I give it label MyPrivateData for drive F. And I want to encrypt drive F using bitlocker. So other users can’t access all files or folders on drive F except they know the key to unlock the drive.
Right click on drive F and then select Turn on BitLocker.
Now BitLocker wizard appears. Check Use password to unlock the drive. Type your password for unlock the drive. Keep in mind that your password should contain combination of uppercase and lowercase letter, numbers, spaces and symbols. I use Xyz123!@# as my password. It contains uppercase and lowercase letter, number and symbols. I don’t use spaces, but it still allowed. Next to continue!
You have to backup your recovery key. Recovery key is used if you lose or forget your password. You can save recovery key to your microsoft account, usb flash drive, save to a file on your PC/laptop or print it. I choose to save to a file.
Now browse location to save the recovery key file. It will saved as txt file. So you can open it using Notepad. For example, I save it to D:\MyDocuments.
Now choose either Encrypt used disk space only or Encrypt entire drive. I recommend to chose Encrypt used disk space only. When you choose first option, bitlocker will encrypt used space. All files and folders on drives will be encrypted. But someday if you add file on this drive, bitlocker will encrypt new files automatically. You can chose second option. But it will make encryption progress take longer. Because it encrypt both used space or unused space on the drive. Next to continue!
Now choose which encryption mode to use. New encryption mode is compatible with Windows 10 only. if you choose it, the encrypted drive can’t be decrypted on older version of Windows. So at this moment I choose Compatible mode. It suitable for HDD or usb flashdisk. When your HDD removed of your PC/laptop and use it as USB HDD, the encrypted drive still can be accessed using older version of windows. Next to continue!
Now BitLocker ready to start encrypt. I highly recommend to close all applications before start encrypting. Because this process will take high resource of CPU. Don’t make you PC/laptop hang or your data will be lost. Click Start encrypting. Speed of encrypting progress depend on your Computer resources. Faster CPU and Harddisk will make encrypting faster. Using SSD will faster than HDD. Click Start encrypting.
Be patience! Wait until 100% completed.
If encrypting progress is completed then will show following notification.
Now your drive has been encrypted using bitlocker. I think this is the best way to hide folders and files with a password.
Now try to reboot your PC/laptop and see once you access locked drive
That’s all I know about hide folder, file or drive on windows explorer. I think your data will completely safety if you use bitlocker than other ways. But keep in mind sometimes if you lock USB drive using bitlocker, it can’t be read on another platform. For example, I connect my encrypted USB to android smartphone. But android detect my USB flashdrive as damage USB and android ask for format it. But overall your data will safe using bitlocker. I think it’s better to lose data than it’s stolen.