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Invisible files in Windows XP.

Alastair Grant | Monday 2 January 2006

I've recently switched to using Windows XP (over Windows 2000), which was not really a smart move, but hey, I was bored.

One bug that I have noticed is that files over a network can appear to be Invisible. When viewing a directory (or folder if you will) through Network Places, the files simply do not appear. But, if you try and load one up in Notepad or something by typing in the full path or URI, then they load.

You can go back to the host machine and check if the file exists, and it does. Surely this means it must be marked as hidden? No, it's not a hidden, nor system file. So no clever little setting to hide it away from idle thumbs.

It doesn't matter if you are running on Peer-to-Peer, or a fully fledged domain network with all the trimming such as file servers and such. Personally, I use Windows XP client machines connected to a Samba domain controller (I don't *think* the problem will appear on files stored on a Samba share though).

It seems the problem first appeared with a Microsoft security update (joy, another bug creator). The specific fix is KB885250. Although this is a part of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. Solutions on the net seem just to be to uninstall SP2 or the hotfix. This not being a really useful suggestion I took a look more into MS and they have finally fixed it.

You will need to apply patch KB896427, which seems to resolve the issue.

After installing the above patch and restarting the problem seems to go away and your files become visible again.

Gotta love Windows XP and file-sharing.

Breaking from the voyeuristic norms of the Internet, any comments can be made in private by contacting me.