So this is irritating. Somehow I lost permissions over the root C: drive on Windows 8. Windows 8 loads, and the Windows Apps all work (such as Windows Store apps; anything except Desktop programs). My account has administrative access to the PC.
I've tried the usual methods of fixing the issue, thus far with no success:
1. I went to the desktop and launched explorer. The C: drive is visible on the list of hard drives. When I double-click it, I get the error message: "C:\ is not accessible. Access is denied." Expected. I right-clicked on the C: drive, selected Properties, and went to the Security tab. It gives me the standard "You must have Read permissions to view the properties of this object. Click Advanced to continue." I clicked on Advanced, and it shows that it's unable to display the current owner. When I click on "Change," I get the error message: "Can't open access control editor. Access is denied." When I click the "Continue" button under "Click continue to attempt the operation with administrative permissions" on the Permissions tab, I get the same error message.
2. I can run cmd within Windows 8, but not as administrator. The command prompt loads normally. When I right-click the Command Prompt shortcut (instead of double-clicking it) and select Run as Administrator, I get the error message: "Windows cannot access C:\windows\system32\cmd.exe." Grr...
3. Next, I opened Settings > Change PC Settings > General. Under "Advanced startup," I selected "Restart now." When the "Choose an Option" screen appears, I select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt. The administrative command prompt loaded fine, and I attempted to run the commands:
X:\>takeown /F C:\*.* /A /R
ERROR: Access is denied.
X:\>takeown /F C: /A /R
ERROR: Access is denied.
X:\>takeown /F C: /A
SUCCESS: The file (or folder): "C:\" now owned by the administrators group.
Any use of ICACLS fails with Access Denied.
4. At this point, I concede that any effort to fix permissions will not work, which is irritating, because I know these methods work under other Windows versions. Going back to the "Choose an option" screen, I selected Troubleshoot > Refresh Your PC. I accept the warnings and it starts to do its thing, but then it fails almost immediately with the error message: "There was a problem refreshing your PC. No changes were made." Argh...
Is there any way for me to salvage this at this point? I'm not very familiar with Win8. At the very least, I want to extract the data contained in my documents and pictures folders before doing the restore option to blow everything away, so I'm probably going to have to go with booting Ubuntu or something off a USB drive.