Is there a tool or command which will compare two directory trees on separate computers and output a list of differences, including differences in permissions?

I was looking at http://winmerge.org/ and it didn't seem to have this feature (it seems to compares file sizes and contents, but not attributes). Took a look through the options, but didn't see a setting to change this.

I've had some problems in the past with permissions getting messed up on some driver directories after an update and it would nice to compare a working installation with a broken one.

5 Answers 5


Have you throught about using PowerShell to do this?

PS2 includes a cmdlet Get-ACL which enums the NFTS permissions (including owner) for a given folder/file.

  • Yes, I did think about Powershell - but had hoped not to use it. I don't use it often enough to get comfortable with it.
    – Sam
    Feb 3, 2010 at 15:26

You can use ICACLs.exe, Included since Vista or so to dump the permissions to a text file. Then use WinDiff or Beyond Compare, or whatever your favorite file comparison tool is, to see the differences.

Example icacls command line:

icacls C:\Folder1 /T > Folder1.txt

Can't find anything that will perform a "diff" on file permissions in Windows, but I do know that RoboCopy and Richcopy (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.04.utilityspotlight.aspx?pr=blog) will copy files while preserving NTFS attributes like permissions.


Try dedicated tools

Probably it worthwile to look at:


  • 1st one can scan folder tree & produce permission report which can be saved in Excel (having 2 reports you can do comparison in Excel),
  • 2nd can copy permissions...

Unfortunately these 2 are not free, and not do exactly what you want but may be helpful for your task...

AFAIK there are no off-the-shelf tool which can easily & conveniently do NTFS permissions comparison/copy, despite existing demand :)


I highly recommend setacl. It is a free tool you can obtain from helgeklein.com.

To compare two directories I did this:

  • Make a list of all ACLs in both folders
  • List in a text format by:
    setacl -ot file -on FolderA -actn list -lst "f:tab" > AclsFolderA.txt  
    setacl -ot file -on FolderB -actn list -lst "f:tab" > AclsFolderB.txt
  • Compare the 2 lists. I do this with diff from CygWin:
    diff AclsFolderA.txt AclsFolderB.txt

I had a problem with comparing two user folders. These folders needed to have identical ACLs except for the user who owned the folder.
I solved this by replace the username in the ACL with a common name customer. This allowed me to compare the ACL without having an obvious difference on the username itself.

  • You could also use the dos command "COMP" to compare.
    – djangofan
    Nov 15, 2011 at 23:27

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