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Changing Permissions for Read Only Sections of Your Storage Device

As a Windows administrator, you may find yourself inclined to believe that as such you should be in control of every file and folder on your system, but actually with newer versions of windows that is not the case. As a user you are not "trusted" to know what you are doing when it comes to program files and the windows folder. Furthermore, just setting Windows to allow you to go to these folders won't be enough.

The issue is that for the users own protection, more recent versions of windows are inherently protected by versions of a feature called 'User Account Control', this is a more grand security feature not just affecting file management, but how programs run, the firewall, and the permissions of every single process executed across the system. It was added during the boom of untrustworthy applications - memory sticks that haven't been scanned for viruses, disks with questionable sources and volatile emails looking to hide adware across the system. Unfortunately, like with society, increasing security decreases the freedoms of the individual - or the user in this case. While these features are great for a child or older person who has no understanding of what is and is not a critical system file; they are just another obstacle for a more advanced user looking to modify programs or remove unwanted files. Sometimes these security settings can even enable a safe environment for malicious software to operate by preventing the user from removing certain folders.

The good news, at least with this kind of security, is that it can be altered to allow a more customised, free experience for those who know what they are doing. First off, you can alter to what extent user account control affects your system by simply typing "User Account Control" into the start menu and running the application. Altering the slider can allow the prevention of unwanted dialog boxes when running a program you just asked to run, or opening a memory stick only you could have attached.

Unfortunately, the pain doesn't just end at the slider. If you wish to make changes to read only files, you have to delve deeper into "permissions". To allow access to a folder and its subfolders, you must first right click on the folder, and the head to the properties menu. From here, navigate to the security tab. In the security tab, you will see a list of users followed by their permissions. If you are not an administrator, click the "Users" tab and edit the permissions to check all the boxes (this will change permissions for all users of the computer) then click apply. Doing so will allow you to alter the folder and its subfolders anyway you see fit. If you still cannot alter the folder or file in the way you wish, then it is not because you don't have permission, but because the system does not have you registered as the "owner". The folder may belong to a group called "Administrators" (to which strangely the sole user of a computer does not automatically belong) or "System". To change who the folder belongs to, simply click "advanced" then click the owner tab. Following that, click you user name for example "JOHNDOE" and hit apply. You may then be asked if you want to apply the change to its folders and sub folders, and in most cases you will want to press yes. There is also a link to a slightly more complicated explanation to Windows Permissions in the Owner tab that says "Learn about object ownership".

This tutorial should have explained in a nutshell, what permissions are and how to alter them. Always double check the files you are modifying and make sure that doing so will not break anything too important (messing with permissions in the windows folder can lead to dire consequences!).


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