Resetting NTFS files permission in Windows – Graphical Utility

Update 06/14/2016:

New version 1.1.6 released!

Get it from the download section below. 

The post entitled “Resetting NTFS files security and permission in Windows” is very useful to show you how to reset the files permissions from the command line.

However, not all readers are savvy with following system commands and for that reason, I made a small graphical utility to automate NTFS resetting files permissions and taking their ownership:

Reset-Permissions-1.1.5

Usage

This utility needs administrator privilege in order to run. To use it, first click on “Choose folder” to select the folder you want to reset permissions then press “GO” to proceed.

It is also possible to edit the commands, change or add new commands before you press the “GO” button.

Explanation of user interface:

The options:

  • Reset files permissions: This is the basic option. You may uncheck it if you want to carry other operations.
  • Take ownership: Sometimes it is necessary to take ownership of the files before resetting their permission. For that reason please check this option if needed.
  • Apply for all sub-directories: Use this option to apply the selected commands recursively.
  • Reset hidden and system files: This command will make invisible files visible.
  • Don’t follow links: this option applies to the “Reset files permission” and “Take files ownership” options only.
  • More options: see the section below.

The action buttons:

  • GO: executes the commands in the “Command that will be executed” text box.
  • HELP: takes you to this blog post
  • ABOUT: Shows the version and about text

Advanced

This is a new feature introduced in version 1.1.0.  When you press this button, you get two options:

  • Add to Explorer folder context menu
  • Remove from Explorer folder context menu
  • Backup / Restore permissions. Those two features are explained in details in this article here.

Note: always press “GO” after you select any of the advanced options.

When the ResetPermission utility is added to the Explorer folder context menu, you will be able to right-click on any folder and then choose a new option called “Reset Permission”.

Check this screenshot:

resetperm-ctxmenu

How it works

To keep short and less technical, this utility is just a shell that uses the following utilities from Microsoft:

All the commands that are going to be executed are showed to you beforehand.

You have a chance to tweak the commands before you press “GO” and execute them.

Backing up / Restoring the files permissions

Don’t you wish you could undo all the changes you did because your system became unstable when you misused this utility?

Now you can, with the two new “Backup permissions” and “Restore permissions” functionality. Please read more about that in this article.

Disclaimer

Please use this utility at your own risk. Backup the permissions beforehand if you have to.

I am not responsible for mishaps due to using this tool recklessly (for example trying to reset system or root folders permission), however, I display a warning when this tool is about to be used on a root folder:

ResetPermission-1.1.3-Root-Warning

Check the “How it works” section above then please refer to Microsoft TechNet site for information about the tools used.

Download

Download WifiPasswordReveal

Download the utility executable – use the password: lallouslab

Download the source code

 

06/11/2016 – Very important – ResetPermissions.exe is NOT a virus or trojan, read on:

It is a shame that even in 2016, AntiVirus solutions are very poor at distinguishing malware from good ware.

If you follow this VirusTotal link here, you will see that as of 06/11/2016, only 17/57 falsely detect the ResetPermission.exe as a virus and the remaining AntiVirus solutions detect correctly.

What is more shameful is that “top” and “reputable” AntiVirus solutions like “Windows Defender” from Microsoft and “BitDefender” do a very poor job telling which is a malware and which is not!

In the AntiVirus hacker’s handbook book that I co-authored, I explain how Anti-Virus solutions are not optimal and just give you a a false sense of security!

If you want to learn more about the Antivirus industry and how their technology is outdated, then read Part IV (Chapters 16 and 17) in the Antivirus Hacker’s handbook. Part IV is written in simple English and does not require you to be a computer geek to understand what the A/V industry is all about!

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Please support my efforts and time put into writing this utility by donating through PayPal:

Thank you.
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batchography-good-resDo you want to master Batch Files programming? Look no further, the Batchography is the right book for you.

Available in print or e-book editions from Amazon.

 

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122 thoughts on “Resetting NTFS files permission in Windows – Graphical Utility

  1. i know that it will be sounds stupid cos i lost my psswords. Here is my problem.

    I have 3 accounts in my pc. Administrator (by the system) Billy – Standard User and Grego – Standard User. Now all my work is in the desktop of Billy and i have no access since each account has his own priviliges such as No access to others users desktops cos i change permissions to all of them. I try to take ownership by the classic method using the Cagnge owner Tab but this was impossible since i changed permissions.

    Any good suggestion how do i took back my files or change priviliges while i am a standard user ?

    I have access only in Grego account and i run these commands :
    from programs (windows 7 64bit is my os) right click to cmd and run as administrator
    then i log on to c:\users\grego
    then i type the command takeown /R /F *

    after a while the command finish and now i don’t know what to do for the next step.

    is there a possible way to change this account from standard user to an administrator use so i will then and reset passwords from the other two accounts ?

    or is there a possible way to take over Billy files on his desktop ?

    thanX for your attention since i’m very confused and i lost hours of sleep til i found you !!!!
    btw your posts are awesome !!!!

  2. There is a bug in this utility. I am running Windows 7 / 64 bit.
    I wanted to reset all permissions in a drive letter “I”
    However, you utility put double Backslash ( “i:\\” ) instead of a single Backslash. Therefore the cmd shell gives error. Please fix the software, and thanks for it.

  3. good help, but I had to take away one backslash and run in a command window when I tried a full disk, ( example with choose folder: M:\ )

    takeown /r /f M:\\*
    icacls M:\\* /T /Q /C /RESET
    attrib /s -h -s M:\\*
    pause

  4. Hi! I have a problem with my HDD, if i use windows i cannot access it, i get ACCESS DENIED, but if i boot Linux or something that is not windows i can access all the files inside, I also have a windows installation in it, and when i try to boot it the screen remains black with the mouse pointer being moveable after the loginscreen, Thanks!

  5. thank you SO much for this 🙂 A few months back I followed your steps for the command line interface after I had completely messed up permissions on an internal HDD and that fixed it, but on reinstalling Windows I was completely locked out of one particular directory – this tool allowed me to unlock and reset everything with great ease.

  6. DUUUUUUDE!!!!!!!!! You saved my ass!!!!! I love you!!!!!!!! I never donate, but this calls for it!!! Thanks a million, REALLY!!!!!!

  7. Hi, a SkyDrive issue left some important files with PLO attributes. Does your utility have the ability to remove these attributes? Or do you know of a method?

    thanks

  8. Thank you so very much!
    I have a problem though, when I click “Choose folder”, the app does not let me choose the folder or drive. Instead, it just write the commands to execute and if I click GO it will tell me to select a folder.
    Can you please, check that?

    I’m on Windows 7 x64, UAC disabled and running it as Admin regardless on and Admin account.

    Thank you again!

  9. I read your post with hope in my heart, especially the part where you wrote, “the tool “cacls” that allows one to display or change ACLs (access control lists)”. I need to be able to see ALL of the twisted, layered permissions that plague my hard drive, in order to determine exactly what changes to make.

    In other words, your little gizmo is probably the cat’s pajamas for mass application of drastic measures, but how can I tell which ones to apply?

    I tired the command that the ‘help’ describes as dumping ACL data to a file. The file contains exactly one “.”. Period.

    WTF!?

    Help please,
    sincerely

    • Hi,

      I am not sure I understand what you want to achieve. Can you explain in another form?

      If I got you correctly, you just want to see the actual permission data?

      If so, just run:

      icacls \*.* /T

      Replace with the location. This will print all the ACL info of files in the given path.

      Regards,
      Elias

      • Thanks for you prompt reply!

        You’re example for displaying ACL info is helpful, though the output is cryptic. I’m sure some expert could read it as easily as reading calculus formulas …

        By way of explanation, there are files / directories on my hard drive that simply will not respond correctly to the documented manipulation processes, For example, even though my user ID is owner of certain files / directories, and have full administrator rights, commands like switching off encryption still result in permission denied errors. It seems as if there are, in effect, layers of permissions, based on ownership, access rights, group membership, and ACL / ACU, that remain incalcitrant, even in the face of (seemingly) ultimate authority.

        So, if there were a way to display ALL of the convoluted access rules that affect the contents of the file system, it would be helpful in determining what must be altered, in order to perform useful work.

        Thanks again!

      • Usually, one just resets the whole folder’s permission and starts over.
        Note, if folder encryption is involved then you cannot clear that out.
        Another thing, you may want to “[x]” check the “Take ownership” box as well.

  10. This is exactly what I am looking for, I was trying to change security permissions on group Everyone and messed up all the files on F: drive and now I get access denied. I only have one user on this home machine and it also is the administrator, I think, at least it says so. It’s telling me I don’t have enough rights to download your application, I have the same problems when I try to open up PDF files, do you have a tip to give me that security permission? Once I am over that and I can download your executable, I still have to run your software and hope to God that it works and that I get access back on my thousands of files.

  11. Thanks, this works like a charm! I fixed my security issues and was able to download your application, it worked but only on half of the files. the final comment said: successfully converted 13,883 files and 13095 files not successful. On the line item while trying it said “the handle is invalid” and now when I try to open the files that don’t work instead of access denied it gives invalid format even though they are excel. Any ideas what to do to get the rest of the files converted?

  12. Doesn’t taking bulk ownership just creates one problem to solve another problem? I.e.: there should be a way to reset acls without losing ownership info – and please don’t tell me there’s another tool which resets ownership… that just requires you to bulk change permissions!

    • Taking ownership is optional. You just uncheck the “Take ownership” checkbox from the GUI utility.
      AFAIK, just using “icacls” should just reset the permission and not the ownership.

  13. Any chance of updating to include the following options?

    Folder Selection – Drag and Drop
    Folder Selection – Remember last used folder and open on that folder
    Command Window – Allow paste, to add additional commands to be run
    CheckBox Option – Manual recursive commands, (run command on all folders found instead of using /r – the /r I’ve noticed doesn’t always work!)

    Thanks!

  14. Thank YOU SO MUCH. One of the computers I was working on caught a Virus that messes up the file permissions you program save me a lot of time I was more then Happy to donate. Though sorry its so little.

  15. You saved me thank you. I had accidentally removed “users” permission and could in no way manually fix all the hundreds of files that I had messed up it kept giving me failure to enumerate errors. Your utility worked perfectly on the second try (had to select take control)

  16. The program breaks when the path to a file or folder is too long. Any chance you can fix that? Maybe by using the 8.3 filename convention to address files?

    This is what it looks like when the it fails:
    Y:\Computer Backup\F-DRIVE-[BACKUP]\Freelance Work\Stuff I search for when I’m n
    ot working\Changes that you make to environment variables do not affect services
    that run under the Local System account until you restart Windows_files\system_
    center_advisor_psc_ad.png: The system cannot find the path specified.

  17. Your DOS commands worked very well and I could fix my problem with files permissions in my computer. Thank you very much.

    • Looks like it does, the only issue is on C:\Users as even with the /L, it seems to try to follow the link when it reaches a user folder and the bad thing is the icacls will remove the user from owning their folder so one has to manually do the ownership on the files with takeown and then doing the icacls so that all the files in the C:\Users\ are owned by that User.

  18. I think I found a serious problem in your tool. If the file structure you are processing has symbolic links to system directories, for some reason TAKEOWN will follow these links and change ownership of your system drive C:, even if you are processing files in a K: drive. It created a mess here when followed a “Documents And Settings” link in a backup.

    I think you need to apply the parameter /SKIPSL to takeown. This parameter exists at least in Windows 8.1.

  19. I want to get some clarification if you don’t mind. I perform many User Entitlement Reviews on unstructured data (file shares) for medium/large business. I am almost guaranteed to find large numbers of folders with “Broken ACL’s” where although they are Inheriting ACE’s do not match that of the parent. It would be a GREAT help to me if I could run this on a branch of a Share to ‘fix’ the ACL’s from top to bottom, meaning no matter what the current setting is on the ancestor folders! Put a different way, when this finishes are the permissions on EVERY object below the starting point “Inheriting” and have identicle ACL’s? If that is a YES, that is a great start…however there are now situations where an inheriting child had a desirable additional ACE over what it inherited…would you be able to capture that and then revisit the ACL and add again???

    • Hi, thanks for reaching out. Honestly, I cannot properly answer this question for you. The Graphical utility is a simple shell around the “icacls” and “takeown” utilities from Microsoft. I advise you go to TechNet / Microsoft support forums and learn more about the implications of using those tools. Thank you.

  20. Thanks for this app!.. But im having problems with resetting file permissions of archive files like zip and iso.. is says access denied but all other files is success.. what should I do? i cant even open any of that files anymore and also exe files.

    • Sorry for the mistake but it seems that its not just archive files thats having access denied, all kinds of file types were giving access denied.. Dont tell me that my files were corrupted because before i tried this app i ran some of that files thats and it ran without problems but after using this app I cant open my most important files anymore.

    • OK heres another update to my files.. It did gave me errors to some of my files after using this on my drive F, not folder, in the root of that drive theres this most important files that have had the probems occured and theres also somes folders with files in it, the files inside the folders dont have any errors, the only files thats having error are the ones located at the root of drive F.
      I tried moving those files inside one of the folders then there it is! The problems are gone!. How is that?
      I happy that this little app fixed our permission problems hassle-free.. But why is my drive F acting like this now?..

      • I don’t know. Is drive F where Windows is installed? I updated the tool to warn before allowing users to change root folders from now on. I also added links to the utilities used.

  21. Any way to change individual files rather than whole folders ? I have a file in system32 I want to change, and I am afraid to mod the whole folder, eg. unexpected effects if I did that. Regards, Dana.

    • I tried this, got invalid directory error

      REM Temp script location: C:\Users\Dana\AppData\Local\Temp\resetperm.bat
      takeown /r /f F:\Windows\System32\osk.exe

      pause

  22. Okay a little clarification… Why exactly is resetting the file permissions on root bad? I thought the idea was to restore them to a factory like setting before like say a virus went rampant denying access to key folders.

    I would re-image, but this is not my PC and that option is not on the table available.

    • The “normal” condition of a NTFS volume is no file permissions at all. The Windows installer defines the needed file permissions of key folders at installation. If you reset NTFS file permissions of the root folder you are erasing all defined Windows protections and only the Windows Installer knows what permissions are needed and where.

      • @zinthose, I could not explain it better than Jefferson. Messing with the operating system’s special permissions is always a bad idea. It is better to reset permissions of user folders / files.

  23. I’m very uninitiated– began changing permissions– what’s the big concern with simply selecting C: file?

    • Getting “that handle is invalid” — indicator/symptom of my prob is Firefox not booting up… nor Dropbox… both suggest permission issues..

    • The tool only knows the NTFS defaults. It knows nothing about what permissions Windows needs to operate safely. If you use the tool with the C: drive as target, even if Windows will be still working after that you are going to be hopelessly vulnerable to any and all malware.

      • INteresting point, there must be a default permission set that windows installer applies on new installs. Is it possible to get that by doing a permissions backup of a fresh install and then impress that on an old HD. Is this possible to get Windows to fuction?

  24. Out of curiosity I decided to use the free software TakeOwnershipPro to access two hidden folders – System Volume Information and Documents and Settings (they now have the padlock symbol). I thought just looking would not cause any harm but it seems that altering the permissions of Documents and Settings (I’m not sure about SVI) has caused various problems – I never altered anything within these folders.

    I tried a restore point but this didn’t work. There is a previous version of the Documents and Settings folder available but this doesn’t work as it comes up with Access Denied and I need permission from SYSTEM. To complicate things I used the “include the subfolders and files” option that the software provides.

    Is there a way of reversing what the software has done as I have no idea what the original settings were and I want to avoid using a recovery image if I can? Would my System Repair disc be of any use?

    Under the Security tab nothing is ticked apart from a greyed out Special permissions (Allow) for all four groups (Everyone; SYSTEM; Paul(Paul-PC\Paul); Administrators(Paul-PC\Administrators) and it says the owner is SYSTEM.

    I’ve contacted the company in question but their responses haven’t been that helpful yet and they’ve stopped replyng anyway. I can’t be 100% sure it was the software but everything was fine before using it.

    Would the Graphical Utility tool Reset Files Permissions help?

    I’m using a HP laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium. Thanks for any help you can give me.

    Paul

    • Hi Paul. Unless you followed the instructions mentioned in this article to first backup the permissions then there’s no way to restore them again. I am not sure if the system recovery disk will repair the errors and leave the rest of your system intact.

  25. Hi brother, having read your article, and reading all the comments, I am very much anxious in doing this. My ‘F’ drive is not accessible, which was resulted due to an improper change of permission of the same drive. My all the data is in this drive only. I have tried your software. But nothing has happened. Please help. On running your software, a set of executions are happening no, so how we ll come to know that the program has run completely. Please help me brother.

    • Hello Mohammed,

      A few things:
      (1) Follow the BACKUP instructions in this blog carefully. Take a permission backup first. Don’t “[x] Take ownership” as the backup/restore article suggests.
      (2) Instead of solving the problem of drive “F” altogether, take one problematic sub-folder and try out this tool on a single folder. If problem solved with one, repeat with others or all of them
      (3) The tool essentially will generate a bunch of commands that will be executed. If you manually run those commands one by one. Usually, you will see lots of output when you press “GO”. This is how you see if the program works. You will always get a message on the screen. Then you will see “Press any key to continue” (or something like that).

  26. Thanks for the instant reply brother. But if I try with one sub folder, how will I be able to know whether issue is solved or not. Because the drive itself is not opening

    Please help. Thanks

    • (1) No need to reboot to check if it works or not (2) based on what you say, it does not necessarily mean a permission issue. why? if it was the case you will know without doubt (3) to see if it works you should be able to access the drive without getting permission errors. (4) sorry i cannot help you beyond that point like that! ;(

  27. I am trying again as per your comments. First without Taking ownership and then taking ownership. Have just one more query if you could help. After the program has run completely, do I have to restart the system before checking whether the issue is sloved or not?

    Please advise, thanks

  28. Good morning lallouslab,
    Just a headsup: I am getting an Antivirus warning, when downloading the ResetPermission.zip
    Bitdefender has identified it as being infected with Variant.Razy.43472

  29. i get these error messages while using GUI, “Semaphore timeout period has expired”, The handle is invalid
    Can someone help me ?

    • Thank you! I wonder why they keep flagging this simple executable (it is not packed and it does not use suspicious APIs)…hmm, maybe because it needs admin privilege as described in its manifest file.

    • Gerbil, thanks again. I have updated this blog post with the appropriate text and educational material regarding the A/V industry and how broken their technology is.

    • Are you sure “/r” and “/R” are different?
      As far as I know, the command line switches are case insensitive

  30. Suggestion
    Not sure if system is doing its mojo since the PAUSE offers no feedback in the command prompt. Can there be another indicator of processing to know when it is finished?

    Can the app allow usage across machines such that when you have a trashed HD and put it into another machine, you should be able to look at the users on the HD not the savior machine, and then match the corrupted permissions with the local users on that HD, or does this do this now. It is not clear which users are being applied.

    I hosed my laptop and now got a new SSD and installed Win7 on that and am trying to do CPR on the old HD which was hosed by permission manipulation.

    oy

  31. Question, How does using this tool (which BTW I am not sure is actually performing backups, I get nothing out of backup) when the folder will still inherit permissions from its parent folder? Does Reset also uncheck the inherit function? And What is the “reset” resetting to?

    • Hello Claude,

      I was going to suggest doing a “Backup” on a good system and “Restore” on a bad system.

      The program is open source, please feel free to look at all the links and references provided in the blog post itself. Most of what it does is documented.

      Thanks

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