When is the best time to web.AllowUnsafeUpdates vs SPSecurity.RunWithElevatedPrivileges? Specifically when dealing with updating an item in a list or updating the list itself.

Is it safest to use both?

What are the differences between the two when it comes to executing item.Update() or list.Update()?

  • 2
    In a nutshell, if you find yourself using AllowUnsafeUpdates, you need to think to yourself 'is there another way to do this?', because you're probably not following best practice.
    – James Love
    Jan 29, 2012 at 22:42

3 Answers 3


The two items are not really related.

AllowUnsafeUpdates will allow changes to the content database happen on a GET request instead of a POST request. This is a very bad idea. It is very trivial to write a script to perform 1000s of GET requests per minute, which would update your content database with duplicates. The actual use cases for AllowUnSafeUpdates is very, very limited.

RWEP also has very limited use cases. The example in the previous answer is actually better solved by impersonating the system account. Use RWEP if you need to access non-SharePoint resources that are accessible by the application pool identity. If the resource is inside SharePoint, impersonating the system account will likely suffice.

In both impersonation and RWEP scenarios, you sould validate the form digest before performing any updates. Most responses on the internet omit this, advocating AllowUnsafe instead.


You use SPSecurity.RunWithElevatedPrivileges when you have a piece of code which requires higher privileges than currently logged in user. For example, your code wants to check if current user belongs to "Approvers" group and Approvers group is configured such that only members of Approvers group can see the membership. You will need SPSecurity.RunWithElevatedPrivileges so that code would run even if the code is hit by a person in Visitors group. Another example, list.Update() probably requires more permissions (because it changes the list schema) than item.update() so you may need to use it while calling list.Update() AND you anticipate that your code may run by people other than site owners with full permissions.

It is important to note that if your application design is such that Visitors would never hit the code that calls list.Update() or item.Update() then you better not use it. I prefer to avoid design choices where I need SPSecurity.RunWithElevatedPrivileges.

ON the other hand, Microsoft would not allow certain updates under certain circumstances even if user has permission to do so. Microsoft is protecting us from security attacks by requiring to call AllowUnsafeUpdates to true. Check this article for detailed explanation:What You Need To Know About AllowUnsafeUpdates (Part 1)

  • In the scenario you describe, impersonating the system account is a much better solution. AllowUnsafe is rarely a good idea. Jan 29, 2012 at 21:49
  • 1
    I have never referred a scenario which requires AllowUnsafeUpdate, I just referred a link which best described when and why. Jan 29, 2012 at 22:01

The two are totally different things as explained here:

AllowUnsafeUpdates vs RunWithElevatedPrivileges



Gets or sets a Boolean value that specifies whether to allow updates to the contents database as a result of a GET request or without requiring a security validation.




Executes the specified method with Full Control rights even if the user does not otherwise have Full Control.



  • If i use runwithelevated previlizes in the coe...I neeed to use allow unsafe update=true? and how can we find 'Get' and 'Post'requests in sharepoint 2010?
    – suresh
    Aug 23, 2012 at 6:38
  • no it depends on what your doing! Iv just added another link for you AllowUnsafeUpdates vs RunWithElevatedPrivileges that is a smiple explanation when you would use the two! AllowUnsafeUpdates is when you need to turn off the security when you need to update the contents database whereas RunWithElevatedPrivileges you need to use to elevate a user to admin level just to perform an action that their accound doesnt have rights to. In some instances you would need to use both.
    – Ali Jafer
    Aug 23, 2012 at 8:15
  • for your second question check this out :) dotnetfollower.com/wordpress/2011/03/…
    – Ali Jafer
    Aug 23, 2012 at 8:18

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