Ignore NTFS Permissions?

I would like to be able to access data on hard drives pulled from "dead" computers (computers with bad motherboards, etc). This never really gave me any trouble when I was using XP on my computer, I could view files on hard drives attached to my machine with a USB adapter.   Now using Windows 7, this is proving to be quite difficult; needing to take ownership of files and folders to be able to view/copy their contents.  There doesnt seem to be an easy way around it.

I work at a computer repair shop and very recently, we had an issue with a customer leaving their laptop with us and the state police came looking for it.  The state police showed warrants and such that they needed access to this customer's laptop to scan it for whatever they were looking for.  They could not take the laptop from our shop unless they found whatever they were looking for.  So for four hours, they sat with the customer's laptop's hard drive connected via usb adapter with a write blocker to their laptop, running Windows 7.  A write blocker is needed so that files and time stamps wont be modified while they do their investigation.  

The state police were able to access all of this guy's files without being able to write (change permissions) and they were running Windows 7.  The customer's laptop, I believe, was also Windows 7.

So, I'm wondering how they did it.  The quick and easy answer would be that they were using some kind of specialized software.  I'm looking for a more specific answer.

Any ideas?
crc-techAsked:
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Patrick BogersDatacenter platform engineer LindowsCommented:
Did you turn off UAC?
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crc-techAuthor Commented:
I checked to confirm, UAC is set to "Never Notify" through msconfig.
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Patrick BogersDatacenter platform engineer LindowsCommented:
Please turn it of in control panel - users
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crc-techAuthor Commented:
Can you be more specific? Every way I get there, it will bring me to the same "User Account Control Settings" window with the slider bar turned all the way down to "Never Notify".  If there is something else I need to do to disable this, I am not familiar with it.

Please explain where you are referring to.
UAC-Settings.jpg
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Patrick BogersDatacenter platform engineer LindowsCommented:
This is the right setting. I would expect you could access external hdds without the need to take ownership.
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crc-techAuthor Commented:
My UAC has been set to Never Notify for quite some time and I am still unable to "freely access" hard drives connected to my computer with a USB adapter.  I will keep searching  for a solution to my problem. I hope we can get some input from some other users in the meantime.
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crc-techAuthor Commented:
Does anyone think these Write Blocker boxes have anything to do with ease of access of data?

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crc-techAuthor Commented:
I've discovered that if you enable and log in to the actual Administrator account in Windows 7, you do not get the permission errors and you don't have to take ownership.  I hope this gem of knowledge helps someone in the future.
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crc-techAuthor Commented:
It occurred to me when accessing the C$ share on another PC.
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