Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Why can I only see some files on a remote computer share?

Question: I have a couple of Windows XP machines – they’re on the same
Workgroup, and I’m logged into an account with the same name and password on
each. I have a drive on one machine shared as full-control to everyone. Yet
when I view that drive from the other machine only some of the files are
visible when I do a “DIR” in a command shell. And further, some more, though
not all, are visible when I use a custom file copying tool. What’s going

OK, I’ll admit it. That was me talking to myself. Again.

As you might guess, I have several computers on my home network, and have
had this problem of files not being visible for some time. I finally got tired
of working around it and set out to find an answer.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

First, major thanks go out to the folks out at CastleCops. They’re another good resource for on-line
technical advice and answers. After a lot of Googling, I came across
this thread on their site: Cannot/ Unable
to view folders/files XP File Sharing
. Buried in there was the answer.

As it turns out, a Windows XP patch issued by Microsoft earlier this year,
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-011, is apparently
causing this exact behavior. I’ve not found confirmation of this on any
Microsoft site, only in a couple of on-line forums.

The cause isn’t enough, though. What’s the solution?

“…there is a little bit of black magic that may do as
a workaround…”

There are two solutions: you may be able to uninstall the referenced patch.
This will not work for everyone, because in some cases the patch is in fact
part of SP2, and cannot be uninstalled. And if you do uninstall it, you’ll
remain vulnerable for the other issues that the patch was designed to fix.

However there is a little bit of black magic that may do as a

Determine the IP address of the host computer which is attempting to share
out files. One way is to run a command shell, type “ping
computername”, where computername is the name of that computer.

Now on the client computer that you using to view those files remotely,
click on Start, Run, and enter
\\ followed by the IP address you just got. For example I
might enter in \\ Now press

This will open up Windows Explorer with a view on that remote computer. And,
as a side effect, you should now be able to see everything that you expect.

You may need to repeat this for each client attempting to access that

The CastleCops thread also has some
ideas on making this automatic, but in my case it’s easy enough that I’ll
simply do it manually, as needed.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

2 comments on “Why can I only see some files on a remote computer share?”

  1. I ran into this exact problem this week. When looking at a shared drive, it would only show files with extentions (filename.ext), and showed NO directories. The fix was to Map the drive as a Network drive & that resolved it! Highlight the drive in Explorer, then select Tools/MapNetworkDrive. Map the drive and reference the mapped drive in any look-ups. Worked for me! :)

  2. Hi, This is a problem I am having but I am running osx 10.4 as the client and xp hosting, would you have an idea how to achieve this workaround? I have searched and searched but can’t find the answer.

    Tom Bennett


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.