How to track file/folder creation and deletion in Windows?

Tracking file/folder creation and deletion is mandatory for ensuring data security and meeting compliance mandates' requirements. It also helps administrators to keep tabs on the files/folders present in the file server. In case of a security attack, if the hacker deletes files/folders in your file server, it would be easier to track them during the investigation.

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  • With Native AD Auditing

  • With ADAudit Plus

One-click report to track file/folder creation and deletion with ADAudit Plus

ADAudit Plus provides comprehensive reports to consolidate all the information you need about files/folders being created or deleted in your servers. These reports can be exported and also scheduled to be automatically generated, at the specified times, and delivered to your inbox. You can also configure alerts to notify you when permissions of critical files/folders are deleted. This way you can take action immediately.

Login to ADAudit Plus → Go to File Audit tab → Under File Audit Reports → navigate to Files Created report to view the files/folders created.

The details you can find in this report are:

    1. Name of the file/folder created
    2. Which server it was created in
    3. Who created it
    4. When it was created
    5. Objects properties including ACL
    6. Client machine from which the file/folder was created
    file created report All that with just a single click. This report also includes a graph representing the servers with the highest count of file creation. A similar report is available to consolidate file deletion actions. Navigate through File Audit Reports to find the Files Deleted report. The details found in this report include:
    1. Name of the file/folder deleted
    2. Which server it was deleted from
    3. Who deleted it
    4. When it was deleted
    5. Client machine from which the file/folder was deleted
    file deleted report In case you want to filter the files/folders created/deleted based on the server in which the files/folders reside, simply switch to Server Based Reports and navigate to Files Created and Files Deleted reports. These reports are similar to the ones explained above, filtered based on the server you choose. To view the files/folders created or deleted by a specific user, go to User Based Reports and explore the Files Created and Files Deleted reports.

Native auditing

Here is how you can audit file/folder creation and deletion:

  • Step 1: Enable Audit Object Access policy:

    Open Local Security Policy. Go to Security Settings and select Local Policies.

  • Under Audit Policy, select 'Audit object access' and turn auditing on for both success and failure.

  • Step 2: Edit auditing entry in the respective file/folder

    Locate the parent directory or folder in which you want to track creation and deletion of files/sub folders. Right click on it and go to Properties. Under the Security tab click Advanced.

  • In Advanced Security Settings, go to the Auditing tab and click Add to add a new auditing entry.

  • In the Auditing Entry for Active Directory dialog box, enter the following details:

    1. Principal: Enter the names of the users whose access you wish to audit.
    2. Type: Select the type of access you want to audit. It is preferable to audit "All" changes.
    3. Applies to: Select whether you want to audit file/folder creation and deletion only in this folder, or in all sub folders.
    4. Basic permissions: Choose the types of permissions you want to audit. Click Advanced permissions button on the right and choose t the following:
      1. Create files/write data
      2. Create folders/append data
      3. Delete sub folders and files
  • Step 3: View audit logs in Event Viewer

    Every time a user accesses the selected file/folder, and changes the permission on it, an event log will be recorded in the Event Viewer. To view this audit log, go to the Event Viewer. Under Windows Logs, select Security. You can find all the audit logs in the middle pane as displayed below.

  • To filter the event logs to view just the logs about the file/folders created and deleted, select Filter Current Log from the right pane. Simply search for the event ID 4656 which indicates that access handle to an object was requested.

  • Unfortunately these filters don't simply give you a list of files/folders created. They would need to be coupled with access masks to understand exactly which files/folders were created or deleted.

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