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2,851 Tutorials

How to access files on a defunct PC

Reaching the parts other PCs cannot reach

QUESTION The motherboard on my old PC died, but I need to access a folder on the hard drive. I used a drive enclosure to access the data from another machine but, when I attempt to open the My Documents folder on one of the user accounts, Windows reports: ‘J:\Documents and Settings\Neil is not accessible. Access is denied’. Can you help? Elizabeth Oliver

HELPROOM ANSWER This problem relates to file permissions, but it’s easy to get around. Copy the folder to your local hard drive, then disconnect the USB enclosure. Reboot the PC into Safe mode and log in as an administrator.

Find and right-click the My Documents folder you downloaded earlier and choose Properties, Security, Advanced. Select your own account (or the administrator account) on the Owner tab and tick the box for ‘Replace owner on sub-containers and objects’. Click Yes, Ok, then restart the PC.

You should now be able to access all the files within from your normal user account.

See also: How to fix everything: the ultimate guide to fixing technology

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