Warning: Geek alert ahead.  If you don’t care about technical implementation details, don’t worry. You won’t be quizzed on this material.

For those of you who already playing with the WLM 8.0 Beta, you may notice that we’ve added quite a few places to find your Sharing Folders:
  • Within "My Computer"
  • From the main window, clicking the sharing folders button near the top of the window
  • On the contact card for buddies you have a sharing relationship with
  • Using the Share Files button in a conversation window
  • Various menu entries, etc.
Clearly, you can find your sharing folders. But can you really find it? Truth be told, your Sharing Folders live in a very weird-sounding hidden location on your hard drive:
C:\Documents and Settings\<Your Windows Username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Messenger\<Your Passport Email>\Sharing Folders\
Whew! What a mouthful! Aside from being masochistic developers who like to type a lot, there are actually a few good reasons why we chose that mouthful as the location to store your Sharing Folders:
  1. It’s guaranteed to be a spot we can create and write to. With more and more users starting to run Windows as a non-Administrator, we needed to pick a spot within your user profile where even as a non-Administrator you have read/write access to your files.
  2. It’s a good spot for application-specific data. That’s why "Application Data" is in the path.
  3. It shouldn’t change outside of our own control. There’s a similar location (C:\Documents and Settings\<Your Windows Username>\Application Data, if you must ask!) that accomplishes a similar purpose. The problem with that path is that a few users have roaming profiles, where the same Application Data is used on multiple machines. Internally, we keep track of your synchronization state for each buddy based on the machine they’re currently using. Very Bad Things would happen if some other computer you also used logged on and updated your folder for you.
  4. We didn’t want users accidentally deleting the only copy of the files they have. When you add something to your sharing folder, we try very hard to make sure you copy it there, not move it. Given that your buddy can delete the files as well, we didn’t want to leave you stranded without a backup if your file disappeared. Additionally, we weren’t sure whether people would think that deleting a file from their sharing folder as "deleting the file completely" or "just a way to stop sharing a file."

We’ve received a few very frequently asked questions related to this, which I’ll answer right here:

Q1: Can I move this location to someplace else? My C: drive is almost full and I’d rather have it on my D: drive!
A1: Not at this time. There are a few tricks advanced users may be able to pull off using hard links, but the files still have to be on your C: drive and this kind of a setup is completly unsupported and may not work in the future. We know you want a real solution, and we’re working to make it happen.
Q2: I looked at this hidden directory, and it’s taking up 8GB of disk space! No wonder I’m out of room!
A2: Sorry, we’re not the disk space hog you thought we were. There’s a file that reportedly takes up 8GB of disk space, but it’s actually a sparse file that only uses about 1MB of actual space on disk. (The rest of it is just a bunch of zeros – think of it as being highly compressed.) You might even see this file go away completely in later releases.
Q3: It sucks that I have to make 5 copies of my files to share it with 5 of my friends. I should be able to share one file with a group of friends without copying it to every user’s folder!
A3: I think it sucks too, and we hear you!  All is not lost, however – there’s still
FolderShare available today for such tasks.