NTFS rights on Windows 2003 and Windows 2008: copy vs. move

February 16 2010

Windows 2003 and older (using CMD OR File Explorer):

  • Same partition/drive.
    • Copy/paste – files/folders will inherit the rights of the folder it is being copied to..
    • Cut/paste (move) – files/folders will retain the original permissions (even if the files/folders have the “Include inheritable permissions...”/“Allow inheritable permissions from parent to propagate to this object...” checked). This is because when the files/folders are on the same partition, they don’t actually move rather the “pointers to their locations” get updated.
  • Different partition
    • Copy/paste OR cut/paste files/folders will inherit the rights of the folder it is being copied to.

Windows 2008 or later (using CMD)

  • Same partition/drive
    • Copy/paste – files/folders will inherit the rights of the folder it is being copied to.
    • Cut/paste (move) – files/folders will retain the original permissions (even if the folders have the “allow inheritable permissions for the parent to propagate to this object...” checked)
  • Different partition
    • Copy/paste OR cut/paste (move) – files/folders will inherit the rights of the folder it is being copied to.

Windows 2008 or later (using File Explorer)

  • Same partition/drive OR different partition
    • Copy/paste OR cut/paste (move) – files/folders will inherit the rights of the folder it is being copied to.

CONCLUSION: Microsoft has changed how File Explorer works in Windows 2008 and newer systems. A cut/paste (move) using File Explorer now actually treats it as a “copy, paste then delete” process even though in same partition/drive situations, it is still only updating the “pointers to the locations”. While I tend to agree that the new process makes more sense (and is ultimately easier to administer), they should have changed the CMD process as well to make everything work the same!