Solved

How to unlock a read only database

Posted on 2004-10-14
21
1,082 Views
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
A number of databases were created by an ex-employee. The employee's account has since been deleted. He created several MS Access applications that we now need to re-engineer or connect to from an external program (perl, but that is not relevent).

I can run the applications and use it to update the database etc.

I can open the applications, view the tables, forms etc, but only in read-only manner. Try as I may I cannot open the tables or forms to modify them.

I tried asking IT to give me an account with the same name as the ex-employee but that did not work. I asked an admin user to see if he could open the Access application and that did not work.

What do I have to do to gain read-write access to the MS Access applications?

Regards
ICD
0
Comment
Question by:icd
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3
  • +4
21 Comments
 
LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:grayderek
ID: 12306205
How do you know it is read only?  

If it tells you when you open it then you should check the file properties in explorer they may be set as readonly, administrator should be able to change.

or try To open the database with exclusive access, click the arrow next to the Open button, and then click Open Exclusive

Failing this create a new database and import all tables etc into it.

Have fun
0
 
LVL 84
ID: 12306693
I'm assuming this is an .mdb file and not an .mde ... if you open the db window (where you see the listing of all the tables, forms, etc), is the Design button enabled when you select a Form? If it's not, then the file is an .mde and you won't be able to modify it (it's basically a "compiled" database, meaning all design changes are unavailable). If it's an .mdb file, then you may be able to get into it.

You didn't say what version of Access you're using; in 97, you could open/modify a database while others were using it - in 2000+, you MUST have exclusive access to the db to make changes.

Another thing to try is Compact and Repair - again, depending on your version this is implemented differently.
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:Bat17
ID: 12306721
Do you get a warning telling you "You dont have pemission to modify XXX " when you try to go into design view for a table?

This would indicate that Userlevel security has been setup for the database and you will need to locate the original MDW file that was used for it. As you have already deleted the ex-employees account you have probably destroyed it already though.

if you search Google for "Access crack user level security password" you will find software that claims to be able to break this security but I cannot vouch for it as I have never used it.

Peter
0
 
LVL 5

Author Comment

by:icd
ID: 12306794
The file is in Access 2000 and is an .mdb file.

It looks like user level security, if I open the file with the /user command line option and the username of the ex-employee I get a 'enter password' screen. If I open it normally, or with admin user I don't get a password screen but I can't modify the forms or tables (read only)

Now that I know how to open the database with the correct username I am hoping that the ex-employee can be contacted and divulge his password.

I have already looked at password cracks, Cain & Able looked to be the best but it only seems to crack password protected databases, it claims that this one is not password protected (I suppose a different level of password than user level) and so it is of no use to me.

Compact and repair is what I need to do (an application I am writing to read the database fails, indications are that I need to C & R to fix this) but I can't do this without getting past the user level protection.

Importing all the tables into another application would be an option but I don't think this imports the forms?
0
 
LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:Arthur_Wood
ID: 12306903
Yes, you can import EVERYTHING (Forms, Reports, Queries, Modules...) from the SOURCE MDB.

It is rather strange, but if you go to Tables/New, and then IMPORT---you will get a dialog to import all of the objects from the source database.

AW
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:Bat17
ID: 12307052
If the databases are secured at userlevel then you will probably be blocked from importing from them :-(

As a quick test if userlevel is applied you could goto Tools>security>User and Group Permissions... and see if you can change the setting.
It will soon let you know if you cant.

peter
0
 
LVL 5

Author Comment

by:icd
ID: 12307400
I am able to import a few tables, but no forms or queries so Bat17 was correct.

I can't change permissions either so it is clear that user level security is applied.
0
 
LVL 5

Author Comment

by:icd
ID: 12308117
Since it appears that user security is held in the system.mdw file, not it the database, then that complicates the issue. I have copied the file to another machine (which will have a different system.mdw file) and I still can't see how to get access.

In theory the 'admin' user should be able to get access, with default password '' but I can't seem to get anywhere with this either.
0
 
LVL 9

Accepted Solution

by:
Bat17 earned 84 total points
ID: 12308320
If security was implemented properly then then a new MDW file would have been created and used. If you still have any backups from when the employeee was there you could look for other MDW files, but you will still need the password.

Peter
0
How to run any project with ease

Manage projects of all sizes how you want. Great for personal to-do lists, project milestones, team priorities and launch plans.
- Combine task lists, docs, spreadsheets, and chat in one
- View and edit from mobile/offline
- Cut down on emails

 
LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:Mighty_Silly
ID: 12315515
ICD,

So is the DESIGN button greyed out when you're in Tables / Forms / Modules object groups?  LMS brought that up and I couldn't find a direct answer to his question - I read the posts twice and I saw you re-emphasized the tables are read-only.

Truly, if the DESIGN button is greyed out, then personally, I think we're out of luck.  IF the DESIGN button is NOT greyed out, then there's still slim hope.

Please confirm the status of the needed DESIGN (button.)

-Silly-
; )-
0
 
LVL 3

Assisted Solution

by:StuartSanders
StuartSanders earned 83 total points
ID: 12316466
If user level security was used, then it is possible he used a custom .mdw file for doing design changes and set the normal Admin user (default in Access) to read only.

If this is the case, you will need to locate the system.mdw file that he used.  If you still have access to his old computer do s PC wide search for *.mdw.  You may then need to crack it using a tool like Passware's Office Key.  http://www.lostpassword.com/office.htm?id=offkey_5_7_481

I believe they have a demo version which should tell you if it has more than the standard users.

You can create a shortcut to an MS Access database that uses command line parameters to specify a different .mdw file so if you locate it and find the password you can then get into the database to make changes.  See the Acccess help and use "command line" in the index.

 Personally I'd consider removing the protection and distributing an mde file if you want to stop users from changing things.  Otherwise this situation will likely crop up again for the next admin of the databases.

Stuart
0
 
LVL 5

Author Comment

by:icd
ID: 12316659
Mighty Silly

The Design button is not greyed out in Tables/Forms/Modules, but when clicked I get 'You don't have permission to modify XXXX.... open as read only?'
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:StuartSanders
ID: 12316686
Sounds like it might be user level protection.  

Stuart
0
 
LVL 5

Author Comment

by:icd
ID: 12316874
I have now found some .mdw (and some .mdb) files. I will see what I can do with them.

0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:StuartSanders
ID: 12316901
Try downloading the demo and see if it can tell you how many users are in the .mdw files.  if not Passware, then some other unlock software may.  They do this to show that they can crack the files.  So a potential buyer can setup a custom .mdw and see what it says about it.

Stuart
0
 
LVL 84

Assisted Solution

by:Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE ) earned 83 total points
ID: 12317598
icd,

If you can open the db with your user/pass but do NOT have permission to modify, then either (a) the .mdw file you found is correct and the user/pass combo you have, while valid, won't get you into design view or (b) the db isn't properly secured (meaning you can log in with any .mdw file). Of course, the developer could have developed this application with the default system.mdw file (with a specific user added to the file and then removed before distribution).

Stuart - just a friendly heads up - you're walking a thin line by providing links to hacking/cracking tools. The Mods don't look too kindly on this and it technically it is a violation of EE guidelines
0
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:StuartSanders
ID: 12317644
Thanks for the heads up.  While I consider these legitimate tools for organisations to use in recovering their own data I understand the sentiment.

Stuart
0
 
LVL 5

Author Comment

by:icd
ID: 12317783
Stuart
I too appreciate the problem of providing links to hacking tools. I have spend many years developing tools to *prevent* programs from being hacked. I would however class Passwares Office Key as a legitimate corporate tool (if only because of the cost of $399!)

I will be spending a few days looking at my options, seeing if I can get access via any of the strategies outlined above, don't panic if it is next week before I can get back and grade this answer. In the mean time thanks everyone for all the ideas and advice.
0
 
LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:Mighty_Silly
ID: 12318362
icd,

Thank you for clearing up the DESIGN button issue.  Now we can rule out the Compile option.

Thanks!

-Silly-
0

Featured Post

How to improve team productivity

Quip adds documents, spreadsheets, and tasklists to your Slack experience
- Elevate ideas to Quip docs
- Share Quip docs in Slack
- Get notified of changes to your docs
- Available on iOS/Android/Desktop/Web
- Online/Offline

Join & Write a Comment

In a multiple monitor setup, if you don't want to use AutoCenter to position your popup forms, you have a problem: where will they appear?  Sometimes you may have an additional problem: where the devil did they go?  If you last had a popup form open…
Describes a method of obtaining an object variable to an already running instance of Microsoft Access so that it can be controlled via automation.
In Microsoft Access, learn how to use Dlookup and other domain aggregate functions and one method of specifying a string value within a string. Specify the first argument, which is the expression to be returned: Specify the second argument, which …
With Microsoft Access, learn how to start a database in different ways and produce different start-up actions allowing you to use a single database to perform multiple tasks. Specify a start-up form through options: Specify an Autoexec macro: Us…

747 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question

Need Help in Real-Time?

Connect with top rated Experts

12 Experts available now in Live!

Get 1:1 Help Now