Windows XP / Beginners

Keeping Your Own Files Private

If you create a new account during setup, or if the Windows Setup program automatically creates your user account when you upgrade from Windows 98 or Windows Me, your account starts out with no password. As the final step when you add a password to your own account from User Accounts in Control Panel, Windows displays the dialog box, which offers to help you make your files and folders private. (This option appears only when Simple File Sharing is in effect and does not appear with limited accounts or accounts whose user profiles are stored on a FAT32 drive.)

Using this option to make your files private is convenient, but it's not the only way to exercise your right to privacy. Regardless of which choice you make when presented with this dialog box, you can change your mind later. You can add or remove protection from your entire profile, or apply the Make This Folder Private option to selected subfolders in your profile, as discussed in the previous section.

To protect your entire profile, follow these steps:

  1. In the Run box or at any command prompt, type %systemdrive%\documents and settings.
  2. Right-click the icon labeled with your user name, and choose Sharing And Security.
  3. Under Local Sharing And Security, select the Make This Folder Private check box.
  4. Click OK to close the dialog box and apply your changes.

Other users who log on to the same computer and open the My Computer window can no longer see the folder icon that represents your My Documents folder if you've made your user profile private. Users who try to access your profile by opening the Documents And Settings folder will receive an "access denied" error message when they double-click the folder that contains your profile. The result is the same if another user tries to open a subfolder that you've made private.

The Make This Folder Private option can't be selected.

The Sharing And Security command is available when you right-click any folder icon. Under some circumstances, however, the Make This Folder Private option appears dimmed and you are unable to select this check box (or clear it, if it's already checked). If you encounter this problem, run through the following checklist:

  • Is the drive formatted using NTFS? The Make This Folder Private option will always be unavailable on FAT32 partitions.
  • Is the folder in your profile? You cannot use the Make This Folder Private option on any other folder, including those in another user's profile.
  • Is a parent folder already set as private? If you're trying to protect a subfolder in your user profile and the dimmed box is checked, you almost certainly have already used the Make This Folder Private option on a parent folder or on the entire profile. Work your way up the folder tree until you find the folder where you set this option.

You can apply protection to selected subfolders within your user profile. For instance, you might want other users to be able to work with some files in your My Documents folder while keeping other files protected. To set up this sort of partial protection, create a subfolder and give it a descriptive name like Private. Then move the files and folders you want to protect into that subfolder, and select the Make This Folder Private option for that folder only.

To remove protection from a folder, clear the Make This Folder Private check box. You might have to log off and log back on again before other accounts recognize the change in permissions.

[Previous] [Contents] [Next]