Have You Looked for These ‘Super-Hidden’ Files on Your Computer?

Most of you may have heard of hidden files on your computer, but do you know about "super-hidden" files? These specially hidden files are well worth taking a look at, as they have the potential to cause your machine serious problems.

Hidden files and protected system files are the two common ways data is hidden from view on Windows machines. There is, however, another way that information can be obscured from view, which is even more hidden and takes some extra steps to find. This week, technologist Joseph Thio is back once again to explain to us what "super-hidden" files are, why they could be a problem, and how to find them. As computers and storage are usually an integral part of a photographer's life, having a better understanding of this area can only be a good thing.

The video starts by explaining that these "super-hidden" files are actually called alternate data streams and how they can't be viewed by Windows Explorer. Thio then goes on to talk about how viruses could maliciously use these data streams to store large files, which could result in the clogging of your hard drives without you even knowing.

Thio then goes in depth, showing real-life examples of how to hide files in one of these alternate data streams as well as how to find and delete them. He then recommends some tools that can be downloaded to accurately view and manage these streams. Lastly, the video talks about some of the legitimate uses for these "super-hidden" files and what the point of them is in the first place. All in all, this video is a worthy watch if, like me, you're keen to know about the ins and outs of your computer. While this subject may not be the most exciting of topics, keeping your machines running smoothly and your precious files safe should always be a priority for photographers.

Did you know about these "super-hidden" files already? Did anyone find anything untoward while looking in these alternate data streams? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  

Lead image by Michael Treu, used under Creative Commons.

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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In all my decades of using Windows, never knew about 'em.

I like the WizTree app he referred to. I've been using WinDirStat for the longest time.

I don't have the prerequisite black hoodie and guy fawkes mask...