If you have multiple computers on your network and want to use shared folders between them, you can add additional protection by creating a hidden Windows Share. This guide is fairly straightforward and assumes that you are working in a Windows workgroup or domain. Hidden Shared Folders are useful when you want to share a folder but want only the people you have given the shared name to have access to.
Of course, a hidden share does NOT guarantee that someone can’t access the folder if they put in enough effort. It is best used as an additional security step in conjunction with other network security policies. If you are on a Windows domain, such as a corporate network, you will find that 99% of the time your local hard drives are shared. In IT jargon, they are called Administrator Shared Folders. Basically, it is configured in such a way that any administrator can connect to any computer on the network and access all local files.
Administrator shares are also hidden, so anyone who browses the network will not see them. You can see if your local drives are being shared by going to My Computer, right-clicking the local C drive (or whatever letter you have) and choosing Properties. Click on the Sharing tab and you will see that Share this folder is selected and the shared name is C $.
The $ after the share name makes the folder hidden on the network. As you can see here, my entire C hard drive is being shared as I am on the corporate domain. Remember, this means that any administrator can access all of your files at any time! So you don’t really have any privacy on the Windows domain.
Of course, to share a folder on your home network or even in your office, follow the same procedure as above. By default, when you click Share This Folder, the share name is populated with the folder name. In Windows 7 and Windows 8, click the Advanced Sharing button to get all the sharing options.
Just add the $ immediately after the share name without spaces. It should be noted that you can only create this hidden share the first time you share the folder in Windows 7 and Windows 8. For some reason, you cannot change the share name after you have shared the folder, so to change it, you need to delete the share first and then re-share the folder.
Also, if you want people to be able to add and remove files in the folder, you will need to click the Permissions button and select Edit or Full Control.
Changes are usually sufficient because they allow people to add files and remove files. Full Control allows someone to change the permissions on the folder itself.
To access a hidden share in Windows, you need to go to Windows Explorer (My Computer) and enter the full UNC path to the folder. If that didn’t make any sense, the UNC path is just the name of the computer and the name of the folder you want to access. So if I share the MyFiles folder as MyFiles $ on a computer named Comp1, I can access that folder by going to My Computer and typing in the address bar:
\ Comp1 MyFiles $
As long as everything was set up correctly, the contents of the folder should pop up without issue! Please note that if you browse the network through explorer and click on this computer, you will not see this shared folder in the list because it is hidden. You can only access it manually by entering the full path as shown above.
And it’s all! You have now shared a hidden network folder! If you have any questions or setup issues, please leave a comment and we’ll try to help. Enjoy!