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Windows Server 2016: Assigning Permissions to Folders & Files

Instructor: Conor O'Nolan

Conor has been programming since 1981 and created games, apps and websites. He used computers as complex AV systems and tweaks every device he owns.

Windows Server 2016 has permissions at 'Share' level and 'NTFS' or file system level. By using both techniques, we can guarantee strong security in the company. This lesson will explain the permissions of architecture and their assigning methods.

Windows Server 2016 Permissions

Windows Server 2016 has permissions at 'Share' level and file system level, otherwise known as 'NTFS.' Let's take a look at them one by one below.

Share Permissions

Traditionally Windows systems provided access permissions based on Share Permissions. They manage user access to shared folders on a network, but not for files locally on the machine or local users. Share permissions apply to all sub-folders and files within a folder. With this technique, restricting access to specific files is impossible, unless the file is in a folder with its own set of permissions on a shared drive.

Share Permissions have three types of share:

  • Read - View files, subfolder and read data in those files
  • Change - In addition to 'Read' above, users can add and delete files, subfolders or even change the data
  • Full Control - This is the default administrators role which allows change to NTFS permissions

NTFS Permissions

NTFS Permissions are for the file system used in Windows systems since Windows NT 3.1. As it's based on the file system, it offers granular control of who can access the file. As a consequence, it requires more administration or operational processing compared to Share Permissions.

NTFS Permissions apply to users locally on the machine as well as for the network users. The set of permissions granted to users when they login to their Windows system and also applies to individuals.

NTFS Permissions have five basic types of permission:

  • Write - Edit a file or add files in a folder
  • Read - View files, folders, and their properties
  • Read & Execute - Read files and run executable scripts
  • Modify - View, modify, add and delete files and their properties
  • Full Control - add, modify and delete folders and files and change their permissions


Permissions can be set to deny or allow
Permissions can be set to deny or allow


Share v NTFS

The two types of permission are not competing in nature; rather, they are complimentary. However, there is scope for confusion when assigning these permissions.

For any file or folder, the most-restrictive-permission is the one that overrides the other. For example, a folder with Share Permission set to 'Read' overrides an NTFS Permission that was set to 'Modify.'

There are a few other differences to consider:

  1. Drives on FAT and FAT32 systems can use Share permissions (although these are less likely to be encountered.)
  2. Share Permissions allow a restriction on the number of users of a folder, while NTFS does not.
  3. We can access Share Permissions in the 'Advanced Sharing' under 'Permissions' tab. We configure NTFS Permissions under the 'Security' tab of any file or folder properties.

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