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Locked out of my own files after XP re-install

Posted on 2006-04-02
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** I had asked this question a couple of weeks ago. There were a couple of comments back and forth, but then the thread died**

Background:
My computer was set up with two user accounts - one for myself ("Administrator" rights) and one for guests ("User" rights). There was a folder on my C: (but not within my Documents and Settings\My Profile folder) that I did not want to be accessed when logged in with the guest account. Before I made any changes, if one was logged in under the guest account one could see all the files, and could also make changes to them if one wanted to. This was no good! I didn't even want the guest user to be able to open the files (let alone manipulate them), so I tried to manually apply restrictions on the folder. After attempting this, one could STILL do whatever they wanted to this folder and its files.

I recently needed to re-install Windows for other reasons, so I made a back-up of all my profile files and also the folder mentioned above onto Lucy (external HD). I then wiped out my C: drive and reinstalled Windows (using the same disk from the previous installation). I moved all of my backed-up profile files from Lucy back to my Dell with no problem. When I tried to restore the folder mentioned above from Lucy, however, I got an error! For some reason, the permissions that were applied to this folder did not succeed in locking out a guest user in my last installation, but have succeeded in locking ME out in THIS installation.

I have tried everything I could think of - my account username is identical to what it was before, the computer name is the same as beforea, and I think even the workgroup name is the same as before. I've gone to the backed-up folder on Lucy and tried to manually re-apply permsissions, giving myself full control. I have also seemingly successfully given myself full ownership. When I do this, I get no error messages, but when I try to access the files I still get the same error message.

Is there anything that I might be able to do to regain access to these files, or am I completely screwed?
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Question by:ggunnigle
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 16355608
Doesn't matter if your user names match - Windows basis everything on Globally Unique IDs which are randomly generated initially so they won't match up.  

What you need to do is take ownership of the folders and subfolders/files.

Reference:
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=308421
http://www.winxptutor.com/ownership.htm


(Note- if you are using XP Home, you'll need to do this in safe mode).
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by:ggunnigle
ID: 16356348
As I said in the last paragraph of the description, I have already tried this, and it has done nothing.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 16356369
It did, what do the permissions say when you look at them (in safe mode)?

You may have to now Assign yourself rights to the files, owning them doesn't necessarily grant you access - though it does sometimes - I haven't quite figured out what determines this.  Nevertheless, you should be able to now change the permissions and set them to "Everyone".
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 16356373
Note my second link, the last bullet under Take ownership of a folder:

"Click OK, and then reapply the permissions and security settings that you want for the folder and its contents."
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by:Giuseppe "Pino" De Francesco
ID: 16360030
May I ask what error message do you get exactly?
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Author Comment

by:ggunnigle
ID: 16366414
I have just tried to give full rights to Everyone for the folder, with the same result. If I go to one of the files within the folder, I see the change of Everyone being added, but I still can't access any of the files.

What's strange is that most of them are locked, but some of them are not. For the ones that I cannot access, their respective text appears in green, not black. Also, when I was backing up the files in the first place, I lost power to the entire system. I doubt this has any relevance, but since none of the suggestions so far have worked I figured I'd mention it.

GDeFrancesco, I tried opening a random tutorial file in the folder and Windows Media Player gave me the message of "Windows Media Player cannot access the file. The file might be in use, you might not have access to the computer where the file is stored, or your proxy settings might not be correct."
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r-k earned 500 total points
ID: 16366520
Are these by any chance encrypted files?
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Author Comment

by:ggunnigle
ID: 16370625
No, they are not encrypted.
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by:Giuseppe "Pino" De Francesco
ID: 16371209
If you see the text in green these files ARE encrypted ;)
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Assisted Solution

by:Giuseppe "Pino" De Francesco
Giuseppe "Pino" De Francesco earned 500 total points
ID: 16371247
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Author Comment

by:ggunnigle
ID: 16373611
Ah, yes they ARE encrypted. I guess I accidentally applied encryption when I was trying to protect them. Well, I have ownership and full control, and I tried to remove the encryption, but on each and every file I get this:

_______________________________________
Error Applying Attributes
An error occurred applying attributes to the file:

Path:\Filename

Access is denied
_______________________________________


I realize I have a different certificate thumbprint since the reinstall of XP. Does this mean I'm absolutely hosed?
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Expert Comment

by:Giuseppe "Pino" De Francesco
ID: 16375914
I suppose you already tried to access them from the Safe Mode (the F8 menu at the machine boot), right? If not, just try, and if you get the access copy the folder to C:\ (do not move them, just copy) then remove the damaged folder. Otherwise the only thing I can suggest is to create a fresh and basic XP installation on a different hard disc, boot from that and MOVE the folder to C:\
Let us know ;)
Cheers
Pino
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Author Comment

by:ggunnigle
ID: 16383096
I just tried it in Safe Mode. When I tried to copy, it said Access Denied.

As far as your other suggestion, since it's an external USB drive would it suffice to just plug it into a different machine, or does it absolutely need to be a fresh XP installation?
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by:Giuseppe "Pino" De Francesco
ID: 16383395
plug it on a different machine is just fine ;)
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by:r-k
ID: 16383430
Recovering encrypted files can be a tricky matter. See the data recovery sections of the following document:

 http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/deploy/cryptfs.mspx

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