Take the 2-minute tour ×
Server Fault is a question and answer site for professional system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a huge directory on an NTFS filesystem (i.e. a top-level directory containing tens or hundreds of millions of descendant nodes, with the file nodes probably on average about 3 levels deep) that I need to change permissions for. In particular, I need to give a new user (or group) read-only access to absolutely everything in the directory tree.

The most obvious place to do this is in Windows Explorer, by right-clicking the top-level directory, and going to the security tab of the directory properties window. However, when I try the obvious things there, Windows Explorer seems excited to recursively traverse the whole directory tree and try to modify something or other about the permissions of each node in the tree. This is extremely inefficient for such a large directory!

Can anyone offer any tips for changing permissions without this recursive descent? Do I need to click something particular in the UI? Do I need to use command-line tools? Could this potentially be the result of a previous sysadmin doing something weird to the permissions in this directory?

I also need to enable network sharing and let the user/group mount the directory over the network. Haven't tried that yet, so I don't know if there's a similar can of worms when I try to enable sharing.

This is Windows 2008 Server if it matters.

EDIT: People are right that it probably makes more sense to give permission to a domain group rather than a particular account, so I've made note of this above. (That's what I was doing anyway. I don't know why I specifically asked about adding a user in the original question. Sorry for the sloppiness.) But of course adding a group to a folder's permissions list isn't any faster than adding a user. (None of the existing groups are assigned read-only permissions.)

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

In this case, there's no need to mess with the NTFS permissions.

Just create a Share to the top-level directory and add the users or groups to the share with Read-Only (or if you want Write) permission.

Even if Everyone has Full Control NTFS permissions on the top-level directory, the most restrictive permission (Share or NTFS) will be used.

share|improve this answer
    
But if an appropriate group (eg Everyone) does not have permissions at the NTFS level he will still need to add those permissions, regardless of the share permissions. –  Martin Rennix Aug 7 '09 at 4:06
    
That's a pretty poor way of managing a file server. Most likely this user is not the only one that needs access and NTFS permissions are far more granular than Share permissions. Traverse Directory comes to mind as a big miss if you go strictly with Share permissions –  MDMarra Aug 7 '09 at 4:40
    
It's a simple option in small networks. I do normally set NTFS permissions, but for groups only. The problem he stated is giving "new user read-only access to absolutely everything in the directory tree." –  Gordon Bell Aug 7 '09 at 4:59

You really should consider creating a Local or Domain Group and set it's permissions on the top-level directory, then you just add users to the Group as needed.

share|improve this answer
    
How will that speed up applying permissions? That group will still need to be applied to every file and folder. –  Martin Rennix Aug 7 '09 at 4:09
    
Yes, but just once. –  Gordon Bell Aug 7 '09 at 4:54

There is no quick way to do this. Explorer will happily trundle off for hours (days?) applying the new permission to every file and folder (if inheritance is set).

Enabling a share is much easier, the user just needs at least read permissions on the share. The underlying NTFS permissions will determine what the user can actually do. Note that if the share permission is read-only, then that is the maximum access even if the NTFS security is set to modify (r/w).

share|improve this answer

If you want the user to have read permission on a folder and all sub-folders, then the permissions of the sub-folders must be changed as well. It sounds like inheritance is already set and you just don't want to wait for this inheritance to propagate to all of the child objects. The only thing you can do besides wait is add the user to an existing group that has the appropriate permissions, assuming such a group exists.

share|improve this answer
    
I just did the same thing today on a folder with about 10,000 items (not 10 million) and I just set it and went away to do something else. When you start putting millions of items in folders, that's when a file system starts to buckle... –  Mark Henderson Aug 7 '09 at 0:32

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.