Sep 122005

What do you do when you need the answer to a question and Google doesn’t deliver? Ask on the blog of course… I would really like to know the answer to this one, as it would save a large amount of irritation and I assume others have the same problem. I’ve spent hours buried deep in search engine results with no luck.

As befits a family with jobs in the computer industry, we have a few computers spread around the house, all connected with a decent home network and protected with a good Linux-based firewall (which also serves this blog). The computers run a number of operating systems – Windows 2000, Windows XP, Mac OS X, Solaris. The problem only appears with the Windows XP boxes – or rather, between them. For some reason, one Windows XP box can’t see all the files and folders on the other Windows XP box, although they’re quite visible from both Windows 2000 and OS X. The odd thing is that some files and folders are visible, often some files in a given folder will be visible but the others won’t, and to my eye there are no differences in security settings, ownership, or ACLs. Mind you, I’m obviously missing something somewhere or I’d be able to see all those files from every machine in the house! I tried copying some of the files to new directories; sometimes that lets me see them across the network, and sometimes it doesn’t. I have no idea what settings are being put in place to stop me looking at such dangerous files as .css and .html in particular directories; the system seems capricious – as does any system when you haven’t figured out the rules by which it operates. The innate ability of the human brain to figure out patterns has decidedly failed me in this instance.

Help would be much appreciated, not only for me but for the rest of the family who have to put up with my imprecations each time I want to transfer files from one box to the other, only to find that they’re not visible from the box I want to transfer them to.

  13 Responses to “Invisible Files”

  1. Windows Explorer should only hide two types of files, hidden and system. You can choose to view either of these types in “Folder Options”. If it is not this and the security, etc. looks ok then I don’t know the answer.

  2. Do you have it setup as a shared forlder? I’ve seen similar things on my home network. Not sure why it shows up, but I’ve found if I unshare the folder and then share it again everything shows up. Not really an answer…

  3. Hi Lauren,

    I was struggling with the same problem, and while I still can’t see files from one on the other, a post last Saturday by Bill de hÓra did solve my main problem, which was how to copy a large number of files between two XP machines:


  4. i had all sorts of problems with windows xp home – it can’t seem to talk to anything. microsoft’s “simple” home networking is a big pain and i had a lot less trouble when i installed xp professional instead.

    ooh, like your live preview by the way! 🙂

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Nathan, none of the files are hidden. The security setting look fine to me.

    Parand, that was a good idea – I have the entire C drive shared, so I deleted the share and then set it up again, making sure I had all the permissions set to Full Control for Everyone. Didn’t work. Sigh.

    Bob, thanks for the tip – I’ll try that next. I usually use FolderMatch to sync files between the XP machines, and it’s not seeing the files and directories either, which is what first alerted me to the problem (sync onto a laptop to take work with me, discover at my destination the .xml and .xsl and .css files didn’t make it). And my next step was going to be looking for a tool to sync onto the Solaris box, so Unison looks good for that as well.

    Ben, I do have XP Professional on both machines, so it’s not an XP Home artifact. BTW, the live preview comes with WordPress by default, which is one of the reasons I like it.

  6. I don’t have a ready answer, but I might have some google keywords for you to try out. There seems to be a connection between this problem and Windows security update KB885250 from 2/8/2005.

  7. Just to reignite an old thread, I have found the same issue too. You are not alone, and it is quite strange indeed. Seems one way to refresh the file listing is to use the host’s IP address instead of the DNS/NetBIOS name for sharing.

    Seems to be related to the above article, but with SP2 on XP I don’t think you can remove it. Another great joy of Microsoft. I knew there would be ANOTHER good reason not to downgrade from 2000 to XP…

  8. don’t know is it related directly, but recently I had similar problem, it started when I disabeled short file names (8.3) support. Seems that problem had gone when turned back on.

    command line to turn off:
    fsutil behavior set disable8dot3 1
    and on:
    fsutil behavior set disable8dot3 0

  9. Hi, ok guys I’ve found the problem, well, after posting onto a newsgroup – someone answered my problem for me, and knowing how frustrating this is (completely messes up network use) I thought I’d help.

    Basically, the windows patch that most of you will have installed through windows update – patch number 885250, is causing the problem.

    Microshaft have obviously fucked something up here – causing the invisible files / folders problem.

    So, add remove programs, check the show updates box, and scroll down untill you find patch 885250 – and uninstall it. Do this for all of the machines on your network.

    Sure removing a windows update patch isn’t the greatest of solutions, but it’s solves the problem and I doubt that I’d benefit from having that patch installed anyway, the benefits of using my home network as it’s supposed to be used are far greater.

    Problem solved!!!

  10. This problem has been bugging me for a while now as well.
    Very frustrating as I’m sure you are already aware.

    Unfortunately, 885250 sounds like it fixes a pretty critical flaw so uninstalling it is probably not ideal.

    This comment was my first stop at finding (hopefully) a solution to this problem so Thank you so much for that. As you found its kind of difficult to know how to even begin searching for a problem like this.

    Anyways, I found the article relating to this exact issue and it provides a HotFix for it. Why it doesn’t get installed automatically with Windows update to correct this issue is beyond me, but there you go thats MS for you.

    Hope it helps.

  11. Thanks Deon, the hotfix worked! I had to apply it on both computers running XP (after “verifying” Windows XP yet again). I agree removing a patch is not ideal, so I’m pleased MSFT did finally fix the problem. Finding things in the knowledge base is always an issue, although since it looks like they fixed the problem some time after I first posted about it, I don’t feel too bad about not having found anythying useful that probably didn’t exist at that time.

  12. What about for Windows x64? I tried installing the hotfix and it tells me that it was created for different hardware platform.

  13. I had a similar problem that I fixed by moving the files to a new subdirectory:

    z:\ dir

    (none of the files I was looking for were listed, just some stuff that was old & junk & none of the desired files showed in Windows Explorer)

    z:\ dir jb2007*

    (all of my files were listed!!!)

    z:\ mkdir 2007

    z:\ cd 2007

    z:\ move ..\jb20070* .

    z:\ dir

    (all my files were listed & I could see them in Windows Explorer as well)

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