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Using the Command Prompt to Reveal Hidden Files

Posted By jacqui On November 7, 2011 @ 5:50 PM In File & Disk Management,Security Help | 27 Comments

Some viruses leave behind nasty side effects, even when your antivirus program has cleaned the actual virus from your computer. If your desktop icons are missing and your C: drive appears blank, don’t panic — your files haven’t gone permanently AWOL. Common viruses, such as the Windows 7 Recovery virus, will hide your files in an attempt to coerce you into paying for the virus’s removal. When you view your desktop or click on your C: drive, it may appear that all of your files have been deleted, but they haven’t — the virus has simply hidden them. You can restore them easily using a simple command prompt trick that works in Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Click the Start button in the lower left corner of your task bar. Type cmd in the search box at the bottom of the menu and press Enter. If you’re using Windows XP, click Run and type cmd into the Run box.

You will see this screen:

Command prompt

Type attrib -s -h -r c:/*.* /s /d and press Enter to execute the command. The command prompt window should look like this after you’ve typed the command:

Command prompt after entering the command

Allow the command to finish executing (it may take a few minutes). When it’s done, close the command prompt window and check your desktop — your files, hidden by the virus, have been restored. You can use the same trick to restore files the virus may have hidden on other drives, including removable storage such as flash drives and external hard drives; just change the drive letter in the command above to the drive letter of the storage device with the hidden files.

~Jacqui Frye


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