Inheriting Permissions

When you assign permissions directly to an object, you create an explicit permission. Assigning explicit permissions to every individual folder, file, registry value, and Active Directory object would be a ponderous task. In fact, managing the massive number of ACLs that would be required would significantly impact the performance of Windows Server 2003.

To make managing permissions more efficient, Windows Server 2003 includes the concept of inheritance. When Windows Server 2003 is initially installed, most objects only have inherited permissions. Inherited permissions propagate to an object from its parent object. For example, the file system uses inherited permissions. Therefore, each new folder you create in the root C:\ folder will inherit the exact permissions assigned to the C:\ folder. Similarly, each subkey you create in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFT-WARE\ key will inherit the exact permissions assigned to the parent key.

After you set permissions on a parent object, new child objects automatically inherit these permissions. You can override this default behavior, however. Using the file sys

Security Alert Explicit Allow permissions always override inherited Deny permissions.

tem as an example, if you do not want child folders to inherit permissions, click the Advanced button on the Security tab of the folder's properties dialog box and use the Advanced Security Settings dialog box to add permissions. Then select This Folder Only in the Apply Onto list when you specify permissions for the parent folder, as shown in Figure 2.2. To specify permissions that do not apply to the parent folder, but exist only to be inherited, select Subfolders And Files Only, Subfolders Only, or Files Only. Other objects, such as the registry, provide similar functionality.

Tip If the Apply Onto list is dimmed, the permission was inherited from the parent. You can only change inheritance for explicit permissions.

Figure 2.2 Permissions are inherited by default, but this behavior can be manually overridden

You can also control inheritance from the child objects. If you do not want a child object to inherit the parent's permissions, open the Advanced Security Settings dialog box and clear the Allow Inheritable Permissions From The Parent To Propagate To This Object And All Child Objects check box. You will be prompted to copy the inherited permissions to explicit permissions, or to simply discard the inherited permissions. If you choose not to copy the permissions, you will need to immediately assign explicit permissions so that users can access the object.

If you do disable inheritance on a child object and later want to re-enable inheritance, you can do so from the Advanced Security Settings dialog box of the parent folder. Simply select the Replace Permission Entries On All Child Objects check box, and Windows Server 2003 will remove all explicit permissions on all child objects and replace them with inherited permissions. This is an excellent way to recover files, folders, or registry values that users have made inaccessible by removing inherited permissions.

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