Secure Configuration of Windows XP Desktops


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Windows XP allows local hard disks to be formatted using the FAT, FAT-32 or NTFS file systems. Of these, only NTFS supports file level security; FAT and FAT-32 do not allow you to set permissions on individual files or folders. The result is that if a volume is formatted with FAT or FAT-32, it is basically the same as assigning the Everyone group the Full Control permission for the entire volume.

To ensure the NTFS file system is used, open My Computer, right click on the system's hard drive, and choose the Properties command from the resulting shortcut menu. Doing so will display the drive's properties sheet, which will indicate which file system is in use (see Step 3, below).

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  1. Verify all volumes are formatted with NTFS
    Windows XP allows hard drives to be formatted using the FAT, FAT-32 or NTFS file systems. Only NTFS supports file level security, so it's important to ensure the NTFS file system is used.

Hopefully, you will find that the NTFS file system is being used, but if not, there is a way to convert your current file system to NTFS. To do so, open a Command Prompt window and enter the following command:

    Convert C: /FS:NTFS
The command assumes the C: drive is being converted. If you need to convert another drive, substitute that drive's letter for the C: used in the command above.

This was first published in July 2008

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