These days most computers come with at least 2 partitions on the hard drive although it’s quite common for you not to be able to see all of them because they have been hidden for various reasons. Windows can create a hidden boot partition of around 100MB and OEM manufacturers will often install a recovery partition of a few Gigabytes which again is often hidden away so you don’t cause any damage to it.
If you are letting someone temporarily use your PC for a short period of time and would rather they didn’t have access to any of your personal files, one of the easy and quick ways to do it is to hide the drive or drive letter so it cannot be accessed from My Computer or Windows Explorer by the average user.
It’s also the case that sometimes the inexperienced user will poke around on other partitions and perhaps delete files without actually knowing what they’re for. One of the favorites is created backups from the Windows Vista and 7 backup function for example, which would obviously go on another partition or drive and an ordinary user might not realize what it is.
Hiding a chosen partition by removing the drive from it completely or simply hiding the drive letter from Windows Explorer but still making it accessible is easy to do and there is a variety of different ways to achieve it. Here’s a selection of 7 different ways to hide drive letters or partitions.
1. Drive Manager
Drive Manager is useful tool to perform several drive related functions, one of which is to hide a selected drive from My Computer and Explorer for the current user. The program is also portable.
Simply run the program, click on the drive or partition to hide and select Hide from the toolbar. Alternatively, right click and choose Hide Selected Drive. After a reboot or log off, the drive will be hidden but still accessible much like how TweakUI works (no. 4).
2. Using Partition Manager Software
Using a piece of partition manager software to mark the partition as hidden is a slightly more secure way over the Computer Management console because once you have done this, Computer Management cannot access the partition at all. Although you can still see the partition through it, right clicking it will not allow you to add a drive letter to make it accessible, only an option to delete the volume is available.
There are many other free partition management tools available such as Parted Magic or Partition Wizard Home Edition, but for the purposes of this guide, we’re using EaseUs Partition Master Home Edition. The method to hide is broadly the same whichever software you choose.
1. Download and install EaseUS Partition Master Home Edition.
2. Right click the drive letter or partition from the list or graphical layout and select Hide partition. Or click on the option in the side bar if available. Accept the warning that the drive letter may change. Then click Apply when ready and Yes to confirm.
In GParted the option is in right click -> Manage Flags, and for Partition Wizard it’s in the right click -> Modify sub menu. To unhide again simply reverse the procedure.
3. NoDrives Manager
NoDrives Manager works in Windows XP, Vista and 7 (including 64-bit) and also comes with a couple of useful functions as well. Firstly it hides the drives for all users and not just the currently logged on user, and secondly it’s available either as a portable or setup installer program.
The program is pretty simple to operate, just tick the relevant boxes for any drives you wish to hide, or untick an already ticked box to unhide a currently hidden drive. Then tick Save Changes.
The password option when set will ask for a password when you run the NoDrives Manager program which is enough to stop the average user running it and enabling the drives again. More advanced users won’t have too much trouble bypassing it though as the password is simply stored as a value in the registry.
Once you have logged off and come back into Windows, the drive letter will be gone from My Computer and Explorer but still accessible from the address bar, Command Prompt or the Run dialog etc.