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How to Manage File Security in Windows Vista

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/14/2009

Read on to learn how to configure file permissions in Windows Vista to maximize file security.

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    Thanks to Windows Vista’s Sharing and Discovery function, files and folders can be shared among different users on a network. However, the way in which you set up file sharing on your computer can strengthen or weaken your system’s overall security. If, for example, you share a folder and give everybody on the network the ability to read, write, and execute any of the files in that folder, this can make your computer highly vulnerable to attacks.

    Before you begin sharing files across a network, it is important to understand Vista’s system of file permissions.

    File Permissions

    Files permissions are rules that are setup up for each shared folder or file, which allows or denies access to the folder and its sub-folder or to a particular file across the network or locally. File permissions can be modified to suit your security needs.

    The documents of each of the users on a network are stored in a separate folder in the C: drive, in the C:\users folder. While one user can’t access another user’s documents, they can, by default, access any of the other files and folders on the C: drive, unless you specifically deny access to a file or folder. Changing file permissions for a specific folder or file is a simple and straightforward process.

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    How to Change File Permissions

    1. Click the Start button and open the Windows Explorer. Locate the folder for which you want to set File Permissions.
    2. Right-click the folder and then select Properties. Select the Security tab and highlight the user that you wish to set limits on.
    3. Click on the Advanced tab under Permissions for that particular user. This is located near the lower right corner.
    4. Select the user once again and click Edit.
    5. Select a level of access: Full Control, Modify, Read and Execute, Read, or Write.
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    Quick Tip

    Most of the folders that you wish to freely share should be placed in the Public Shared Folders directory, which can be located using Windows Explorer. The files on your Public Folders directory can be freely accessed by anyone on the network.