Tech tips - Hidden files

19:48, Aug 22 2012

An interesting aspect of computers, and specifically that of their software and operating systems, is the ability for a user to perform any given task several ways.

Within the multiplicity of options, you will often find that there is no actual prescribed or correct way of completing a task.

The functionality provided within these systems has usually been developed as generically as possible, to ensure sufficiency for, or extensibility in, most applications.

Robert Holton, of Hamilton, bought a new computer running Windows 7, and used the Windows Easy Transfer program to migrate his profile over from his existing Windows XP machine.

Ever since the migration process, the Windows 7 machine no longer displays the correct icon for his local hard disk drive.

The drive icon has disappeared completely, with the operating system now using the default unknown file type icon in its place.


To his credit, Robert attempted a fix suggested on the Microsoft Answers website, but it didn't rectify his situation.

Sometimes hidden or system files affect the functionality of the operating system or installed applications. Windows Explorer, for example, provides support for display icon customisation of folders and drives through the use of desktop.ini or autorun.inf files contained within them.

To establish whether these hidden files are affecting your icon, open a command prompt, change to the drive and folder, and list the contents by typing "c:", to signify the drive name; "cd \", which asks the computer to change the directory; and then "dir /ah" (without the quotes).

If you see desktop.ini or autorun.inf in the results, then the file contents are worth further investigation to establish if an alternative icon has been specified.

David Hallett is the chief nerd of Need A Nerd in the Waikato. Need A Nerd can be reached on 0800 633 326 (NEED A NERD). To ask a question email and be in with a chance to win Norton 360 Version 6 by Symantec ($129 for three PCs).

Waikato Times