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I am working with a small business that has a domain set up with Windows Server 2008 R2. The owner of the company would like the ability to see ALL of the files on each of the computers in the domain without having to log into each computer individually. What service/role/feature do I have to enable or modify to give the owner of the company complete access to all files on all of the the computers in the domain?

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How does he want to see the files? By size? Type? Content within the file? – Wesley Aug 17 '11 at 21:47
Block write access on the local machines other then \users, setup roaming profiles, and redirected folders. Then everything will be in one easy to find place. – Zoredache Aug 17 '11 at 21:57
up vote 4 down vote accepted

What for? If people are saving documents to the local drives, and he needs access, a better idea would be to redirect the "Documents" folder to a server share which he can access.

If he wants it to see what people are doing without his knowledge, then he will need an account with administrative rights (by being in the domain group "administrators") so he can connect to other computers and get onto \computer\c$ without logging in again. Try to do it with a second account so he has to log out of his computer and back in once to see all, otherwise he will be running as an administrator all the time, which is a bad idea for general safety and reliability. Will he be OK with manually going to \c$? You may have to share the drives out with only him allowed to access them so he can find them.

If he actually wants some kind of audit of what files, just to see they exist, you could schedule a task to list all files (or all non-system files) on every computer and build them into a report page fairly easily.

Otherwise, how about a tool like Dameware NT Utilities (costs money) which allows connections to remote machines and viewing files among other things. He would still need an admin account, but would not need to remember the hidden admin shares...

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Just to be able to see what they are saving to the computer and so that he can open documents/spreadsheets etc. Having access to c:/users and all subfolders would be sufficient. – advis12 Aug 17 '11 at 22:21
What about enabling roaming desktop for each of the computers? – advis12 Aug 17 '11 at 22:23
  1. You keep using the phrase 'all files'. You probably really don't mean that? What exactly is it they want to view? Assuming you're just talking about business data...

  2. With a domain already in place, if the business wants to keep the business data in a manageable state then lock down local file access and place the data on a file server share (or sharepoint, or in SQL or whatever) on a server you can control, where doing things like this and managing both data security and backups suddenly became a hell of a lot easier.

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He basically just wants to see everything in C:/users for each of the computers. – advis12 Aug 17 '11 at 22:19
Would enabling roaming desktop work? – advis12 Aug 17 '11 at 22:23
Enabling roaming profiles would mean that the "c:\users\person" folder is copied from the server every time they logon, and back to the server when they logoff. It would work, but does add slowness and more administrative complications. Probably don't enable it unless you are somewhat familiar with it. Redirected My Documents folders would be neater, if the files are small enough that people can work on them on a network share (e.g. Excel documents, not CAD drawings). – TessellatingHeckler Aug 17 '11 at 22:33
Thanks, I already got it working. Great information! – advis12 Aug 17 '11 at 23:04

The domain administrator capability has the ability to do this via the hidden share C$, D$,... on each computer in the domain.

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I looked into this a little and it looks promising. The owner of the company already has domain administrator access. How do I actually go about viewing this hidden share? – advis12 Aug 17 '11 at 22:26
Press win+r to open the Run dialog, type \\computername\c$\ and click OK. – TessellatingHeckler Aug 17 '11 at 22:34

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