Almost everything that you do on a computer is stored as a file in a folder on the hard drive. This also applies to the Microsoft Windows operating system itself. Many people don't think too much about Windows after initially purchasing and setting up a computer system. That may very well be the intentions of Microsoft, making sure that end users do not experience hassles and problems as they get started, but imagine driving a new car off the dealer's lot and the engine suddenly experiences problems as you pull into the driveway at home; most people would be confused and maybe even furious that they have to open the hood to inspect the problem.
If you are having trouble finding the folder on your hard drive that holds the Windows operating system, it's because it's rare that most users need to directly access these files. In fact, Microsoft programs the OS to automatically hide files associated with Windows so that users don't mistakenly tamper, or worse, delete files that are critical components of the operating system.
Windows files are accessible, but you have to perform a few preliminary steps to get to them.
Click on the start button in the bottom left hand corner of the desktop to begin the process of accessing the Windows folder. This step reveals the Start Menu. Click on the icon at the top of the Start Menu that is labeled Computer or My Computer. Another window opens on your computer screen.
Click on the Computer icon in the left pane of the window. This should show all of the hard drive letters that the Windows operating system recognizes on your PC.
For example, the C: drive is the folder that usually stores the OS. You may also see the D: and E: drives, for the DVD drive as well as removable storage media, such as USB flash drives and SD memory cards.
Select the "Organize" button at the top of the window. Click on "Folder and Search Options" from the menu. This opens a new dialog box that is titled Folder Options. This utility controls folder properties and actions in Windows.
Click on the "View" tab in the dialog box. Uncheck the box that is titled "Hide Protected Operating System Files." Click the Apply and OK buttons in the dialog box. This tells the Windows operating system to unhide the folder on the hard drive that is storing the OS files.
Click on the C: drive in the Computer or My Computer window. Look for the folder that is labeled "Windows" and there you have will find the folder that stores the OS files.
- Do not change or delete files in the Windows folder.
Sources and Citations
- " Change folder options." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Change-folder-options>.
- " Create a system repair disc." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Create-a-system-repair-disc>.
- " Find a file or folder." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Find-a-file-or-folder>.
- " Folders: frequently asked questions." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Folders-frequently-asked-questions>.
- " How do I remove the Windows.old folder?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/How-do-I-remove-the-Windows-old-folder>.
- " Install more than one operating system (multiboot)." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Install-more-than-one-operating-system-multiboot>.
- " Install or remove a hard disk drive." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Install-or-remove-a-hard-disk-drive>.
- " Show hidden files." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Show-hidden-files>.
- " What are the system recovery options in Windows 7?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/What-are-the-system-recovery-options-in-Windows-7>.
- " Where are my files and folders after upgrading from Windows XP or Windows Vista?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Where-are-my-files-and-folders-after-upgrading-from-Windows-XP-or-Windows-Vista>.