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User Account Control: Virtualize file and registry write failures to per-user locations

Updated: November 15, 2012

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows XP

This security policy reference topic for the IT professional describes the best practices, location, values, policy management and security considerations for this policy setting.


This policy setting enables or disables the redirection of the write failures of earlier applications to defined locations in the registry and the file system. This feature mitigates applications that historically ran as administrator and wrote runtime application data to %ProgramFiles%, %Windir%, %Windir%\system32, or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\.

Virtualization facilitates running applications based on operating systems earlier than Windows Vista that historically failed to run with standard user privileges. This feature can be disabled for applications on computers running at least the Windows Vista operating system because it is unnecessary.

Possible values

  • Enabled

    Setting this value facilitates the runtime redirection of application write failures to defined user locations for the file system and the registry.

  • Disabled

    Applications that write data to protected locations fail, as they did in versions of the Windows operating system earlier than Windows Vista.

Best practices

  1. If you run applications that are not Windows Vista-compliant, enable this security policy to prevent the possibility that these older applications could write data to unsecure locations.

  2. If you only run at least Windows Vista–compliant applications, this feature is unnecessary so you can disable this policy.


GPO_name\Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options

Default values

The following table lists the actual and effective default values for this policy. Default values are also listed on the policy’s property page.

Server type or GPO Default value

Default Domain Policy

Not defined

Default Domain Controller Policy

Not defined

Stand-Alone Server Default Settings


DC Effective Default Settings


Member Server Effective Default Settings


Client Computer Effective Default Settings


Operating system version differences

There are no differences in this security policy between operating systems beginning with Windows Vista.

Policy management

This section describes features and tools that are available to help you manage this policy.

Restart requirement

None. Changes to this policy become effective without a computer restart when they are saved locally or distributed through Group Policy.

Group Policy

This policy has no impact in Windows operating systems earlier than Windows Vista.

Security considerations

This section describes how an attacker might exploit a feature or its configuration, how to implement the countermeasure, and the possible negative consequences of countermeasure implementation.


Earlier applications might not write data to secure locations.


Enable the User Account Control: Virtualize file and registry write failures to per-user locations setting.

Potential impact

None. This is the default configuration.