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How do I track file access in Windows folders?

How do I track file access by users? I need to find out which users are accessing certain files in a specific folder.

This is relatively simple to accomplish if you use the auditing functionality of Windows XP and Windows Vista. To get started, open Control Panel, and then:

  1. Click Performance and Maintenance
  2. Click Administrative Tools
  3. Double-click Local Security Policy
  4. Expand Local Policies in the left pane and select Audit Policy
  5. Double-click Audit Object Access in the right pane
  6. Check the Success box
  7. Click OK

Now that you have enabled auditing, right click on the files and folders on which you want access audited and select Properties. Navigate to the Security tab, and click Advanced. Navigate to the Auditing tab, click Add and then enter the user or group whose access you want to research, and click OK. Then, select Successful for each of the actions you're interested in, and then click OK.

This was first published in January 2008

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