On my computer running Windows XP Pro SP3 I have a folder on my desktop that is very important. How can I lock it so that I can alter anything in it, but the folder itself cannot be removed without resetting a (lock/unlock?) switch?

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    Your folder is obviously not that important if the only copy you have is on the desktop of a single computer. You should always assume that your data will be completely unrecoverable the next day, and plan as you would if that were to be the case. Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 0:15
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    Where does it say I don't have it backed up?
    – Xavierjazz
    Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 2:19
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    I assumed that a person who wants to keep a folder from being deleted because it is important, that the person doesn't have backups, because if any of my important folders are deleted, I would just restore from backup. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 0:44
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    This is no answer or help. Did you read the question?
    – Xavierjazz
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 14:21
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    And because it is not an answer or help I put it in a comment instead of an answer. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


You can set the "Delete" and "Delete subfolders and files" permissions to "Deny" under Properties → Security → Advanced.


  • This requires XP Pro and will not work on the popular Home version.
    – paradroid
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 21:29
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    You would still be able to access this menu by booting Windows XP Home Edition into Safe Mode. Since you only need to make the change once, it wouldn't be too much of a hassle.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 21:30
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    @Xavier: 1) It's not different, I just didn't include the username prompt. You can use "Everyone" as a name. Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 22:05
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    @Xavier: 2) Yes. Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 22:06
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    @paranoid: Try seeing if changing the SharingWizardOn value in HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced will get you the screen in normal boots.
    – user541686
    Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 0:10

I'm afraid this is not possible.

Either you remove write permissions, and then it's read-only, or you allow writes and then it is also possible to delete (since this is considered as a write operation).

What I'd recommend if you have very important data is that you back it up, either locally or to be safer on a remote location; one good and easy option to achieve that would be to register for a dropbox account - that will allow you to recover the files if they happen to be deleted, and if you only use up to 2GB of data it is completely free.

Edit: For Windows (I read a bit too promptly), it is indeed possible to specify the permissions in a more fine-grained manner in the Security settings of the folder/files. You can not prevent an admin to assign itself the delete permissions though. In any case, if you're afraid of someone else deleted the files, I'd say a backup is still recommended. And if you're afraid of accidentally deleting the files.. Well back it up either way :)

  • Thank you for your suggestion (+1) and response. This file is much too large to be "clouded" freely. I suspect you are correct, but I will wait a while before I accept your answer, just in case. Regards.
    – Xavierjazz
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 21:14
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    Re "it is also possible to delete (since this is considered as a write operation)": This may be true for POSIX, but not for NTFS, which has distinct "create folders", "create files", "delete" and "delete child" permission bits. Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 21:20
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    Also, "Deny" permissions do apply to administrators. (However, administrators can always take ownership of any object, and the object's owner can always read and change the object's permissions.) Nevertheless, +1 for making a backup. Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 21:29
  • @grawity: Fair enough. I just glared at the basic permissions and forgot to check the detailed list. Thanks for correcting.
    – Seldaek
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 21:29
  • If you're just trying to prevent accidental, non-malicious deletion, Grawity's answer will work fine, and it is completely possible. Obviously, if somebody is trying to delete the file and has admin access, there would be a way to do so, note he says "without resetting a (lock/unlock?) switch".
    – nhinkle
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 21:32

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