Windows, by default, hides certain files from being seen with Windows Explorer or “My Computer”. These are known as hidden files. This is done to protect these files, which are usually system files, from accidentally being modified or deleted by the user. Unfortunately viruses, spyware, and hijackers often hide their files this way making it hard to find them and then delete them.
Most viruses, malware and Trojans, take exact same name, file size and properties of these system files thereby making it hard to know which one to delete.
By following the steps below for each version of Windows you will be able to change the operating systems behavior so that you can see hidden and protected files. In this way you will be able to delete or replaces files for troubleshooting purposes.
Below, we look at how to see these hidden system files.
Windows 8 & 10
- Open the control panel app. Windows key and R. Type control panel then click Enter.
- When the Control Panel opens, scroll to find File explorer options.
- This will open up with a dialog box showing three tabs; General, view, search. Click on View.
- Under the View section, scroll down to where you find a radio button labeled Show hidden files, folders or drives.
- Next, Remove the check-mark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).
- Press the Apply and Ok button to save changes made.
- Now, to see if your hidden files are shown, open Local disk. This is usually labeled drive C:. It is the default operating system drive in any windows computer. When this is open, a list of folders will show up. You can now see your system files shown.
Note: that you will now see icons that were not previously visible. One of the most common concerns is that you will see a file called desktop.ini throughout your computer. These are legitimate hidden files and can be ignored.