Figure out who is deleting files from windows operating system

File OR folder from windows operating system (client/OS) might miss due to many different reason. A user may logon to system interactively OR remotely then delete the file OR a malicious process may also delete the file. If you are unsure who is deleting files/folder then windows auditing is the best way to figure this out.

Follow this sequence to understand the concepts.

Enable windows auditing from Local Security Policy (run – secpol.msc). If you are doing against multiple servers then edit group policies from domain controller.


You can use following PowerShell to automate this step.

secedit /export /cfg c:\secpol.cfg
(gc C:\secpol.cfg).replace("AuditObjectAccess = 0", "AuditObjectAccess = 3") | Out-File C:\secpol.cfg
secedit /configure /db c:\windows\security\local.sdb /cfg c:\secpol.cfg /areas SECURITYPOLICY
rm -force c:\secpol.cfg -confirm:$false


Update group policy using following command.

gpupdate /force

Select folder that needs to be audited. In my example, I am enabling auditing for Delete action on c:\temp\temp folder


You can use below PowerShell

#Uncomment if foder you intending to be audited isn’t created so far.
#New-Item -type directory -path C:\temp\temp
$Folder= "c:\temp\temp"
$ACL = Get-Acl $Folder
$ar1 = New-object System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemAuditRule ("EveryOne","Delete","3")
Set-Acl $Folder $ACL


Now if anyone (user/process) delete your file then event will be generated in your event viewer. For e.g. I am deleting File1.txt using windows explorer (right click \delete) second file using PowerShell.

RM -Force C:\Temp\TEMP\File2.txt -Confirm:$false


Open Event viewer and search Security log for Event ID 4656 with “File System” task category and with “Accesses: DELETE” string. “Subject: XXXX” will show you who has deleted a file.

Log Name: Security
Source: Microsoft-Windows-Security-Auditing
Event ID: 4656
Task Category: File System
Level: Information
Keywords: Audit Success
User: N/A
Computer: server.domain.local
A handle to an object was requested.
Security ID: domain\user1
Account Name: user1
Account Domain: domain
Logon ID: 0x98B5C
Object Server: Security
Object Type: File
Object Name: C:\Temp\Temp\File2.txt
Handle ID: 0x774
Resource Attributes: -
Process Information:
Process ID: 0x4c4c
Process Name: C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe
Access Request Information:
Transaction ID: {00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}
Accesses: DELETE
Access Reasons: DELETE: Granted by D:(A;ID;FA;;;BA)
ReadAttributes: Granted by D:(A;ID;FA;;;BA)
Access Mask: 0x10080
Privileges Used for Access Check: -
Restricted SID Count: 0


OR you can below basic PowerShell to query system event viewer log.

Get-EventLog -LogName Security -InstanceId 4656


#new-item, #uncomment