Securing XP Home Systems with XP Professional Permissions

If you’re running Windows XP Home, the Simple File Sharing is enabled by default, and unlike in Windows XP Professional, there is no easy way to turn it off. While some users will find this version of file sharing simple to use, it does lack much of the granularity typically associated with assigning NTFS and shared folder permissions for individual users. For example, with each of the 5 configurable security levels outlined in this article, the permissions assigned to the owner or other users is basically of the “take it or leave it” variety – you cannot use this sharing facility to assign unique or different permissions to individual users.

Thankfully, if you want a more granular level of control over how NTFS and shared folder permissions are assigned on an XP Home system, all is not lost. The traditional NTFS and shared folder permissions available in Windows XP and Windows 2000 Professional can be accessed on a Windows XP Home system by booting into Safe Mode, where Simple File Sharing is disabled.

Once booted into Safe Mode on an XP Home system, you can right-click on a particular folder or file, click Properties, and the traditional Security tab is exposed, as shown at right. From this interface, you’re able to see not only the permissions that Windows XP Home applies for a given security level, but also customize the permissions for individual users. For example, let’s say that you have created an additional user account named Paul on your XP Home system. You could then use the security tab to add Paul’s user account and configure the exact permissions that should be applied to this user. Although these permissions will not be visible when you reboot the system normally, the unique permissions assigned to the Paul user account will still apply regardless. The Sharing tab allows you to configure traditional shared folder permissions in a similar manner.

Consider using this method to configure NTFS and shared folder permissions when none of the Simple File Sharing security levels works for you. The solution may not be perfect (why should we have to boot into Safe Mode to access these?) but it does provide a method to get at the NTFS security structure that Microsoft has in its “wisdom” decided to hide from XP Home users.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.