How to Restrict Access to Files or Folder on Windows XP

You have a computer which share with others (friends, children, etc.). You’re using Windows XP and you need to customize permission of files or folders on certain users. For example, you want to restrict access your child not to access some folders which have your sensitive information. Or you may want to restrict access on disk drive D: to a certain user.On Windows XP, you can customize either to allow or deny permissions on certain users or groups for a specific files or folders easily. But you need an administrative privilege to perform this task. So in the following section, I’ll show how to customize permissions of files or folders for certain users.

Customize permissions requires administrative privilege so if someone besides you has an account which has administrative privilege, he/she can also customize permissions of files or folders, too.

Note: You shouldn’t customize permissions on the system files or folders for example, Windows Folder (C:\WINDOWS), Program Files (C:\Program Files), Disk Drive C: (Windows System Drive), etc. If you remove permissions that are used by Windows system, the process or service that depends on it may error.

I wrote articles about reset administrator’s password years ago. So you should be aware that someone can gain administrative privilege and override your configuration. To prevent the situation, you have to restrict CD-Rom drive and USB drive to only trusted users because one of these devices is required to reset password.

Step-by-step to restrict access to files or folder

In the example below, I’m going to customize permissions to allow only “linglom” (a regular user) to access the folder C:\Restricted. And I have created another account which also a regular user “ling” who hasn’t the privilege to the certain folder to test access the restricted folder.

  1. Login to Windows XP with an account that has an administrative privilege.
  2. If your PC isn’t on a domain, you have to disable simple file sharing first. See
    [Solved] Missing Security Tab on Windows XP for detail steps.
  3. Select folder that you want to customize the permission. In this example, it’s C:\Restricted.
  4. Right-click on the folder and select Properties.
    Open Folder Properties
  5. On Properties window, select Security tab.
    Select Security Tab
  6. On Security tab, you can customize permissions on a certain user or group.
    Customize Permission
  7. To determine if a name is a user or group, observe at icon in front of the name. If it’s a person, it will be a user. Otherwise, it will be a group.
    User and Group Icons
  8. By default, these permissions are inherit from root (C:\) which I don’t want it so I’ll remove the inheritance. Click Advanced.
    Permissions are inherited
  9. Uncheck “Inherit from parent the permission entries that apply to child objects. Include these with entries explicitly defined here“.
    Remove Permissions Inheritance
  10. The pop-up message appears, you have 2 options: Copy and Remove. In this example, I select Copy for ease of customization. If you select Remove, all permissions wil be removed so you have to configure it from scratch.
    Copy the existing Permissions
  11. Now all permissions are customizable. You notice values on Inherited From columns are <not inherited>. Click OK.
    Permissions are customizable
  12. Back to Security tab, remove Users (BKKTEST01\Users) by select the name and click Remove. This is the Users group which permissions are configured to allow access on this folder.
    Remove a User
  13. Next, add a local user “linglom”. Click Add.
    Add a User
  14. On Enter the object names to select section, type “linglom” and click Check Names. It finds the account that match the name. Click OK.
    Select User Account
  15. Now I have an an user account “linglom” with default permissions (Read & Execute, List Folder Contents and Read) to this folder. Click OK to close the Properties window.
    The User is added with default permission
  16. Test the configuration by login as “ling”, the account which hasn’t permission to access the permission customized folder.
    Login as 'ling' User
  17. Open My Computer -> C:\ -> Restricted. You’ll see the error message:
    C:\Restricted is not accessible.
    Access is denied.

    Access is denied
  18. Then, try again with the user account “linglom”.
    Login as 'linglom' User
  19. You’ll see that you can open the folder and read files but you can’t create a new file or modify existing files on the permission customized folder. This is because that you didn’t give Write permission to the user account on step 15.
    The Folder is Accessible

Summary

You should now get concept about permissions configuration. You can apply to customize permissions (Read, Write and Execute) to certain users on files/folders/disk drives. But keep in mind that if someone besides you has an account which has administrative privilege, he/she can also customize permissions of files or folders, too.

14 Responses to “How to Restrict Access to Files or Folder on Windows XP”

  1. nengsihfitria

    @linglom… i just change the security property of my folder, and the account as administrator with permissions “Read & Execute, List Folder Contents and Read”

    and now, i can change the permission into the default for an admin -> “full control”

    what must i do, to change it again linglom??

    thnx linglom…. ^__^

  2. linglom

    Hi, Nengsihfitria

    I’m not quite get your question. You can change permissions as much times as you want.

  3. nengsihfitria

    Linglom, i am sorry….

    after i change the permissions, one of my folder into “Read & Execute, List Folder Contents and Read”

    and i can’t change the permission back to “full control”

    i change the permission for the administrator account…

    really thanx… =)

  4. nengsihfitria

    Linglom, i am sorry….

    after i change the permissions, one of my folder into “Read & Execute, List Folder Contents and Read”

    and i can’t change the permission back to “full control”

    i change the permission for the administrator account…

    really thanx… =)

  5. linglom

    Hi, Nengsihfitria

    If you are an administrator but you are not an owner of file/folder, you can take ownership to you to reset the security permissions that have been set.

    To Take ownership of a folder

    1. Right-click the folder that you want to take ownership of, and then click Properties.
    2. Click the Security tab.
    3. Click Advanced, and then click the Owner tab.
    4. In the Name list, click your user name, or click Administrator if you are logged in as Administrator, or click the Administrators group. Then, select the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects check box.
    5. Click OK. There will be a warning message, click Yes.
    6. Click OK, and then reapply the permissions and security settings that you want for the folder and its contents.
  6. ian

    i got a restriction on my folder like the one above but, user can delete my folder with a restriction.
    How to prevent user accessing and deleting my folder?
    pls. help me…

  7. nanda

    i need to configure ms outlook for my company .. how to create using domain name… dey created using google apps

  8. RikB

    How to I control permissions on the current local computer for users on other computers in my LAN? When I click “locations”, it only shows the local computer, and there’s no “add” button. (I want to allow full access for users on my LAN, but deny access for others who share my internet connection via wifi)

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