Accessing user files from old Vista HDD


I need to pull some files over from an old vista machine that is OOA, had 32-bit vista home premium OEM on it. Standard SATA2 drive, connected it to my motherboard, and booted up into Windows 7 home premium 64-bit.

I can access program files and non-protected files on the HDD without any problems, when attempting to access g:\users\*username* I run into an admin privileges prompt, stating to press continue to be able to access these files. I hit continue, at which point some process starts. The completion bar crawls along, but after an hour of waiting it's sitting at the end without completing.

So; any good suggestions as to how to get into my userfiles? No password prompt or similar item is displayed, when examining properties the size of the user folder is declared as 0 bytes.

I have verified the integrity of the HDD. I have not attempted to boot into a linux distro via CD and access the files from there. Any ideas would be appreciated!

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  1. First, the default settings for Vista and 7 are to prompt for admin authorization. Authorization is granted by means of authentication, or proving you have admin rights by supplying a password. Even for Home versions of V/7, this type of security is in place to make Windows more secure. The explanation of this goes beyond the scope of your inquiry, but just FYI.

    Now, were you the Administrator of the old computer, in which x86 Vista was on? If so, did you turn off the UAC? The UAC, if you don't know, is what prompts users if they're sure they want a certain action to execute. This also helps prevent viruses from installing themselves.

    Also, V/7 now locks the Users\<user name> directory to prevent intrusion. Meaning, if there are multiple users on a computer, each user will only be able to access what is in the Public directory, or the contents of C:\Users\<their respective user name>, even if you are the sole user of the computer with two distinct user names. Windows doesn't know the difference. This is enabled by default and only Administrators can access any or all C:\Users\<user name> directories.

    So, what does all this mean for you? All though the files are now in G:\Users\<user name>, the security policies are still in place. What you need to do is put the G:\ back into the system where it was originally. Then you must disable UAC (if you're the administrator) and change the security setting on the C:\Users directory, not just the C:\Users\<user name>. Remember, by default, sub directories inherit the permission settings from the parent directories.
  2. UAC was off, and the old system doesn't work at all :p. It's rather perplexing given that the process to unlock the directory begins, just never finished. I eventually gained access via use of a few circumvention techniques; I'm still curious as to what the problem was, but that's for another day. Atleast I know microsoft has upped their security a bit now *remembers the triviality of passing the password prompt in 95*.
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