Accessing Old Hard Drive files off NTFS

By ebueckin ·
I am working on someone's new VISTA pc and their old XP system died. They asked me to transfer their old files from the old computer to the new one running Windows VISTA. I thought that would be easy, so I took the hard drive out of the old computer and hooked it up to an external drive enclosure, and then connected it to the new VISTA computer via a USB cable. I can check the properties of the user's profile and it shows 200+ MB but when I browse into the documents folder nothing shows up. I am guessing that NTFS is hiding the files from me??

Can someone please tell me how I can get the files off the old hard drive? I am at a loss...
The old computer is DEAD so there is no possibility of just starting it up and saving the files to a USB key.

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There a re a couple of things that you need to do here

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Accessing Old Hard Drive ...

Generally speaking Vista Will Not read XP Drives and will want to format them up using the Vista Formatting Tool. If you need to get data off a XP Drive it's faster and easier to copy it to a XP Computer or on an XP Computer across a LAN onto the Vista Machine unless Windows Encrypted File System was being used as I don't think that Vista will accept an XP Encryption Key.

If they had a Password on the XP system you need to take ownership of the files by following the directions here

If the machine had XP Pro installed on it there is the possibility of Windows EFS is being used so look here to see if you can copy an Encryption Key across off the Old HDD

If you can find a Encryption Key you really need a Cloned Copy of XP that you can **** away and recover without reloading XP and needing to reactivate it which is both slow and painful. What you'll need to do is copy all the data across including the E-mail, Favourites List & the My Documents Folder install the Encryption Key as per the instructions and then backup the data files unencrypted and transfer then to the VISTA computer across a LAN. When this is done you can **** away the copy of XP that you have on your working computer and clone back the OS & Software Load without the Encryption Key and be ready to use it again.

It's also a great idea to show or suggest that the owner start a DR Plan now so that they don't have this problem latter and if they are using some form of Encryption make sure that you tell them not to save the data encrypted as there is no guarantee that future versions of Windows will be able to recognise the Encryption Method used and then the data will be useless junk.


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