5 Best NTFS Permissions Reporting Tools in 2020

Managing sensitive files and folders is challenging because it requires constant monitoring to avoid unauthorized access. Since modern file systems support inherited permissions, restricting access and implementing the principle of least privilege can be challenging without the use of proper permissions management tools. In this article, we’ll discuss how organizations can manage files in their NTFS-formatted drives and ensure security and compliance.

What Is NTFS?

New Technology File System (NTFS) is a way of organizing a drive. It’s a common file system first introduced by the Windows NT operating system. It’s used to store data, including files, users, and other information used by the system (hidden files). With an efficient NTFS permissions reporting tool, organizations can quickly identify the access rights given to users to proactively prevent misuse and data breaches. NTFS permissions tools focus on the following:

  • Enhancing performance through file compression
  • Providing secure access control by granting permissions and restricting access to mission-critical data
  • Disk space utilization
  • Running audits to gain insight into the number of files added, modified, or deleted on a drive
  • Generating easy-to-read reports listing the permissions granted to a user or group of users

NTFS permissions tools help IT personnel and system admins provide visibility into access rights across their network, manage permissions, and prepare compliance reports. Here are a few tools designed to save time on report generation and export data—including NTFS permissions granted to a user—for quick monitoring.

Top 5 NTFS Permissions Reporting Tools

  1. SolarWinds Access Rights Manager
  2. SolarWinds Security Event Manager
  3. ManageEngine ADManager Plus
  4. FolderSecurityViewer
  5. CJWDEV Permissions Reporter

1. SolarWinds Access Rights Manager

screenshot of solarwinds access rights manager's risk assessment dashboard

SolarWinds® Access Rights Manager (ARM) manages and audits access rights across an organization’s IT infrastructure. It’s a best-in-class NTFS permissions reporting tool capable of helping you more easily ensure internal security, prevent disastrous data leaks, and demonstrate compliance with GDPR, PCI, HIPAA, and other regulations. The tool delivers Azure AD and customized Active Directory reports, helping IT admins understand the inheritance of access rights given to users. ARM not only helps reduce IT workloads but notifies system administrators about file breaches and suspicious activities. Teams can look into the most critical aspects of user access with the help of a comprehensive and automated custom reporting system. ARM offers a 30-day free trial with full functionality.

Features Include:

  • Ability to identify and monitor high-risk accounts
  • Ability to understand and act on high-risk access
  • Ability to identify the permission access rights given to users
  • Reduced impact of insider threats
  • Change detection to improve compliance
  • Fast, accurate account provisioning

2. SolarWinds Security Event Manager

screenshot of solarwinds security event manager's dashboard

SolarWinds Security Event Manager (SEM) is a folder management tool designed to improve network security. With its prebuilt connectors, the tool gathers logs from various sources, parses the data, and transforms it into a readable format. Admins can quickly identify and track the changes or modifications in the registry keys in real time. Alerts can be created and customized to track different types of access rights, including write, create, delete, and modify permissions. The built-in file integrity monitoring (FIM) capabilities in SEM help admins monitor suspicious events in files and folders. SEM comes with a 30-day free trial period with rich features, free configurable monitoring tools, and customizable tracking templates capable of competing with any other NTFS permissions reporting tool.

Features Include:

  • Built-in file integrity monitoring
  • Centralized log collection
  • Integrated compliance reporting tools
  • Simple and affordable licensing
  • Automated threat detection
  • Intuitive dashboard and user interface

3. ManageEngine ADManager Plus

screenshot of manageengine admanager plus's dashboard

ManageEngine ADManager Plus is an Active Directory management and reporting solution. It helps IT administrators efficiently manage access permissions and keeps track of the number of file shares and access given based on inheritable permissions. The tool also helps administrators granularly assign permissions for individual files and folders. ADManager Plus provides more than 150 preformatted reports for file auditing purposes and aids admins with AD controls. Additionally, this tool automates tasks like AD cleanup and provisioning. Businesses can choose between its free version and its standard or professional versions depending on their requirements.

Features include:

  • Rule-based account creation and modification templates
  • Built-in report library and custom reports
  • OU- and group-based delegation
  • Multi-approval workflow
  • Customizable dashboard
  • Active Directory group management
  • Active Directory cleanup
  • Active Directory logon reports
  • Time-bound access management
  • Automated stale account cleanup

4. FolderSecurityViewer

screenshot of foldersecurityviewer showing access control list of a folder

FolderSecurityViewer enables teams to track the access permission rights of files and folders assigned to various users in an organization or within a network. The tool generates detailed NTFS permission reports in Microsoft Excel or HTML.

Features include:

  • Report comparer
  • Ability to load and save permissions reports
  • Ability to exclude security groups in permissions reports
  • Ability to translate access control entries (ACE) in permissions reports
  • User permissions reports
  • Ability to compare security settings of all subfolders in permissions reports

5. CJWDEV Permissions Reporter

screenshot of cjwdev's saved user permission report

CJWDEV is a powerful tool designed to view the NTFS permissions of an organization’s directory tree. It gives a detailed report of which groups and users have access to which directories. The tool features a highly customizable filtering system to filter different attributes such as account name, account type, domain type, and inherited permissions. It also displays this information in a tree- or table-based format, making the tool highly scalable and easy to use.

Features include:

  • Ability to view group members (nested and primary) directly within the report
  • Intelligent caching feature
  • Ability to generate permissions report to see permissions for the full directory tree
  • Highly accurate results
  • User-friendly dashboard
  • Ability to quickly export report results to a file
  • Multi-domain friendly tool

The Bottom Line

The tools above can help trace file permission access rights for groups and individuals, and they offer customizable and configurable features. Unlike free tools with restrictions and requiring more manual input, the free trials of premium NTFS permissions reporting tools provide more functionalities, better UI, and customizable templates and filters. SolarWinds ARM is a perfect example of a premium tool with user-oriented dashboards, built-in reporting capabilities, and role-based access rights configuration. It offers a 30-day free trial equipped with all the standard features required to monitor NTFS permissions.