How To Take Ownership of Files or Folders or an Entire Hard Drive

In this tutorial we will look at how to access files or folders (Take Ownership) when connecting an external hard drive from another computer or a stand alone hard drive. This can be a USB memory stick, memory card from your camera or an entire hard drive that you wish to access the data held within but are getting a permissions error or no files are showing, yet you know they are there.

Firstly, if you are wishing to connect a hard drive from another computer to your one, then there a couple of ways to do this. If this is a stand alone external hard disk with USB input, then simply plug it in to the back USB ports of your desktop and the device will show itself in My Computer. The reason for using the USB ports at the back is that they are connected directly to the motherboard and not via a separate USB card inside the desktop. If you are connecting it to your laptop, then any of the USB ports will do.

If the device you are attaching is a standard hard drive (IDE or SATA) then you can either connect it directly to your computer by opening the side up of your computer and should you have a spare SATA data cable and power adapter cable then just plug it in and reboot. If it is a IDE, then again make sure you have the IDE power cable and IDE data cable and set it to Slave. You will see how to set it to Slave on the back of the hard drive itself or consult the manufactures website.  Please note that in my pictures of the IDE data cable, my motherboard connector is red. Most are actually blue in colour. The IDE power connector end should already be present in your desktop as it should be attached to the PSU (spare one)

IDE Cables

SATA Cable Leads

A much simpler way to do this though, it to purchase a hard drive enclosure or a USB to SATA/IDE Adapter with a Power adapter which is what I use as it can connect 2.5″/ 3.5″ HDD’s be them IDE or SATA. It only cost me £17.99 ($29.00) and is an invaluable bit of kit. Here are some links should you wish to purchase any, but note that the links may change over time, but a simple look on Amazon or Newegg will find it for you:

Once you have connected your device, you will next need to Take Ownership of it. Please note that sometimes you may not have to do this and can access all files and folder with in. If you are unable to access certain files, you will get a permissions error or the files that you know are there seem to be hidden. There are two ways to get around this. Firstly if you try to access a certain folder/ file you might get the error message below:-

No Permissions Notice

Now you can either click Continue and let Windows grant access to that particular folder which will give you access, but it might not grant access to all files and folders as well on the hard drive. So to do this we must change the ownership of the drive to yourself. Plug in or connect your drive and then locate it via My Computer. Right click on the drive and select Properties which will show the following window:

Disk Properties

Now click on the Security tab and then on the Advanced button at the bottom:

Note: The Security Tab will not show if the HDD that you are trying to access is FAT or FAT32. It must be NTFS. Also, for the Security Tab to be shown in XP you must have Simple File Sharing unchecked in Folder Options, which can be found via Control Panel>Folder Options>View. In XP Home this is enabled by default, so to get a workaround, boot the computer into Safe Mode and log in via the admin account. You should now see the Security Tab. (Cheers to commenter Matt for pointing this out, as I forgot to add it)

step 3

The Advanced Security Settings window for the drive in question will now show:

step 4

Now click on the Owner tab and click on Edit as shown in the image below:

step 5

Now depending on how many user accounts you have on your computer, you will now want to select the user that will be the new owner of the device. Check the ‘Replace owner on sub-containers and objects’ box and hit Apply.

Replace owner on sub folders

A Windows Security window will pop up, just click Yes.

warning

Windows will now start the process of changing ownership of the files and folders on the drive:

changing ownership

Once the process has finished you will see the following message:

security message

That’s it. You should now be able to see and access all of the files on the drive that you wish to save or use. In my case it belonged to a friend of mine, who’s motherboard had died, and needed personal files like family photos saved.

drive to take over

Note: This was done using Windows 7 Ultimate, but the procedure is very much the same in XP and Vista. If you have any questions, please ask below.

  • John Lee

    Got an error trying to open a folder (Documents and Settings) after performing the procedure described.
    The error says “G:\Documents and Settings refers to a location that is unavailable. It could be on a hard drive on this computer, or on a network. Check to make sure that the disk is properly inserted, or that you are connected to the Internet or your network, and then try again. If it still cannot be located, the information might have been moved to a different location.”
    Explorer does show the drive as G: drive.

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi John Lee,

    When you right click on the folder>Properties>Security, is everything ticked under ‘Allow’?

    Also, are you running as admin?

  • John Lee

    When I do that, there is no “security” tab available. (Just General, Sharing, Web Sharing, Customize)

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Are you running XP, Vista or Windows 7?
    Is the folder on the HDD you are trying to access NTFS.

    Check in Group Policy that it hasn’t been disabled. Windows Key+R and type ‘gpedit.msc’ (no quotes) and hit OK. On the left navigate to Windows Explorer settings via:
    User Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components>Windows Explorer. Select Windows Explorer on the right to show the settings available on the right. Now scroll down (on the right) to ‘Remove Security tab’. Double click it to see the properties for it, and make sure that it is set to ‘Not Configured’. Hit Apply and OK.

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    You should note that the Security Tab will not be present on a HDD that has been formatted as FAT or FAT32. It must be NTFS.

  • John Lee

    Sorry I have been off line for a while.
    Indeed the drive has Windows Vista on it and was working on it on a Windows XP machine.
    I moved the drive to a Windows 7 machine and performed the operation.
    Now, the “(H:)\Document and Settings” folder can be opened, but it looks like the content has been replaced by the stuff in “c:\Document and Settings” on my Windows 7 machine. Original content is no where to be found!!! How can I get them back?

  • John Lee

    Further testing shows that the “Document and Settings” folder on the external drive points to the folder of the same name on the c: drive.
    This is what I did. I took another drive from a Windows 7 PC, plug it in as external drive using an adapter. (now I have 2 external drives). The “Document and Settings” folder on this 2nd external drive also points to the “Document and Settings” on theC: drive.
    May be you can help me out with this? TIA.

  • Mr. Garcia

    After getting to the Advanced settings window, I click on the profile I wish to set as the owner and then a window pops up that says:
    “Unable to set new owner on Microsoft Office Click-to-Run 2010 (Protected) (Q:).

    Access is denied.”

    Note: This is an external hard drive I got from a friend and it has been used on my laptop before but is not working now

  • http://gravatar.com/matthias9119 matthias9119

    Just had to deal with this while trying to copy files off a HDD pulled out of a dead laptop.

    For me, changing the ‘owner’ of the folders didn’t help. It looked like Windows was going through and doing something useful, but I still didn’t have permission to access some of the folders, even though if I looked at the drive it said the account I was logged in as had ‘full access’ and was the ‘owner’.

    What did work was setting the permissions for ‘Everyone’ to have full access. If user ‘Everyone’ is not listed in the set of authorized users for the folder/drive in question, you’ll need to add it.

    Obviously not a good idea if you still need security permissions, but at least it should let you copy files off a hard disk that has weird permissions.

    (lead to the answer by this: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-networking/error-mapping-network-drive-between-vista-and/24bdf172-2dbc-43b8-995d-a99b6a81413c )

    (another suggested solution that I didn’t try: http://www.vistax64.com/vista-file-management/143139-cant-change-permission-full-control-access-denied.html )

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi matthias9119,

    Thank you for the information. I will take another look at the tutorial and add to it.

  • Jo Pethig

    Hi came across this as been searching for an answer to my issue, I am running XP but also have another hard drive with win 7 home premium on, so other day decided to have a look (as not really ready to move over to win 7 at present), whilst logged in there, I took ownership of files which I still need on XP, but as you can imagine I now try to open the files in XP and access is denied as win 7 has the files, is there anyway I can undo what I have done, as now cannot access Vuze/films/piccies/CV’s etc on XP :(

    Thank You

  • Kevin

    First, thank you so much for you information above. It has gotten me quite far.

    I have gotten to the point of starting the process of changing ownership, but the process just stops. I do not get the last message saying:

    “If you have just taken ownership of this object, you will need to close and reopen this object’s properties before you can view or change permissions.”

    When I close and reopen properties, I still cannot access my folders.

    I am running XP S3 and trying to read an external hard drive with NTFS format. I am logged in as administrator.

    I have also tried giving permission to EVERYONE but that has also not worked. I can see the top-level files on the hard drive, but I cannot see any of the folders. Any ideas? Thanks again for your great work!
    Kevin

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Kevin,

    Sorry, but I have been pretty busy at work lately, hence the late replies.

    Did you check the ‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’ box and hit Apply. Just prior to starting the taking of ownership? Make sure that box is checked.

    • Kevin

      Hi,

      You wrote back to me on less than 24 hours- thanks for that!

      Yes, I had checked that box before starting to take ownership and tried it again after your reply, but it is still stopping without showing the box that says:

      “If you have just taken ownership of this object, you will need to close and reopen this object’s properties before you can view or change permissions.”

      I can see the names of the missing folders as it tries to transfer ownership and Windows Explorer shows the same size, 227GB free on a 1TB Transcend external hard drive. So at least is seems that the files are still there, just inaccessible.

      I have tried all tried almost every possible combination I could think of through the security tab, including ejecting and rebooting the hard drive and re-starting the computer between changing ownership and trying to read the files.

      Three questions:

      1. I have not tried clearing all permissions and owners, restarting the computer and then trying to access the drive. Is that a good idea? I was afraid that clearing all owners might not even let me get to the security tab. What do you advise?

      2. Would it be worth installing Windows 7 instead or would the permission problems just follow me there?

      3. As an extreme measure, if I reformat the laptop and start from scratch will that solve the problem? I don’t know if the problem with the permissions is on the laptop or on the external hard drive.

      I have about 780Gb of data on the hard drive that has taken me years to collect. The data on the hard drive is much more important to me that the data on the laptop itself.
      Also, there are no encrypted files on the drive, mostly pdf’s and videos of university lectures.

      Sorry for the long post, I am getting desperate.

      Thanks again!

      Kevin

      • http://techfleece.com thegift73

        1. I have not tried clearing all permissions and owners, restarting the computer and then trying to access the drive. Is that a good idea? I was afraid that clearing all owners might not even let me get to the security tab. What do you advise?

        You will always be able to access the Security tab as long as you have ‘Use simple file sharing [Recommended]’ UNchecked

        2. Would it be worth installing Windows 7 instead or would the permission problems just follow me there?

        You could do this as the OS is significantly better than XP, but to be completely honest, I can’t be 100% if this would solve your problem. If you already have Win7 then you could try it to see if that helps, as it would do what you are asking in Q3. Just remember that you can’t upgrade to Win7 from XP, as it will require a Clean install which will wipe all information from the laptop. You could however, install Windows 7 on a separate partition on the laptop, but it would be far simpler to have just the one OS (pref Win7)

        The data that you have on the external HDD is safe, it’s just getting permission to access it. A lot of the time, granting access to the external isn’t required as it will be plug and play. It’s only when the original OS has implemented security to that HDD you run into permissions problems. Windows 7 though, I have to say, does make the whole thing simpler.
        I take it you can still write to the external HDD? If you are going to install Windows 7 (doesn’t take long) then dump all your important data (bookmarks,PDF’s, music etc) onto the external HDD and then try to access it via the newly installed Win7 OS.

        Lastly, when you right clicked on the external HDD in My Computer, and went Properties>Security; have you made double sure that all of the boxes are ticked under the Allow heading (Full Control, Modify, Read, Write etc). If not, click Edit, and get them all ticked.

        Popping out now for a reunion, but will try to look in via my mob.

  • Kevin

    Hi,

    Thanks for your lightning-fast response. I am surprised that anyone can even type that fast, much less give an intelligent answer!

    I am currently in Laos, so it is after 1:00 am. I will get some sleep and then try your ideas in the morning. Enjoy your reunion and no need to follow up right away, as I will be sleeping.

    I will write back with an update tomorrow.

    Cheers!

    Kevin

    • Kevin

      Hi,

      Here is an update on my situation:

      1. I have not been able to get Windows 7 yet, but i hope to get it tomorrow.

      2. I did try to read the hard drive from a friend’s laptop that was running Windows 7 and it did not work. i had the same problem as before, the folders were not visible.

      3. I scanned the hard drive with Kaspersky, which found no viruses.

      4. I noticed one thing when I tried again to take ownership. I had clicked through it before, but now I think it may be a significant part of the problem: When I tried to take ownership through the OWNERSHIP tab in the ADVANCED SECURITIES SETTINGS FOR TRANSCEND F: window I got a message saying I did not have access to something like volume 3 (my external hard drive) “##aswsnx private storage”. I cannot give you the exact wording because when I tried again to answer ownership, the message did not pop up. I tried to look up this ##aswsnx private storage and I can’t really make sense of the Google results I found. Is it a virus? Is it a piece of Avast, which I have never installed on my laptop? From what I have seen online, others who cannot see their folders on external hard drives have seen the same messages, so I suspect it may be the culprit. However, I have not found any source that explains clearly how to fix the problem. I cannot see the ##aswsnx private storage file among the top level items I can see on the hard drive. I have also tried searching the drive and it did not show up in the search results. Then again, none of my other invisible files show up in the search results either. I have also tried clicking the SHOW HIDDEN FILES box and none of the missing folders show up.

      Any thoughts?

      Thanks again,

      Kevin

      PS – I hope you had a good time at your reunion!

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Kevin,

    I think that ‘##aswsnx private storage’ is the Sandbox for Avast.You may have installed Avast a while back and just forgot to remove it, or it was installed with another program.

    There is obviously something preventing/ protecting certain files on the external HDD which is why the permissions are unable to be set correctly for you to take full ownership of the HDD.

    I know that in the past when I have bought external HDD’s, that they came with a protection ‘locking’ type program that is installed at the root of the drive. This meant that anything placed onto the external HDD would be protected by that program. Can you see if there is something like this on your external HDD.

    When you right clicked on the external HDD in My Computer, and went Properties>Security; have you made double sure that all of the boxes are ticked under the Allow heading (Full Control, Modify, Read, Write etc). If not, click Edit, and get them all ticked.

    Have you tried, disabling your Antivirus and Firewall and then going through the process again, to make sure that either of those aren’t causing an issue?

    I take it that you only have 1 Anti-virus installed.

    Richard.

    P.S Thanks, I had a good time catching up with old mates.

    • Kevin

      Richard,

      Thanks for getting back to me.

      1. Is there any chance that the ‘##aswsnx private storage’ is a malicious file with a fake name? Here is a related link to someone who detected it as ROOTKITS, whatever that means:

      http://forum.avast.com/index.php?topic=64698.0

      2. I checked the Storejet Elite software that was on the top level of the HDD. Nothing had been clicked to hide or encrypt any files. I have nothing sensitive in the files and made a point of trying NOT to encrypt or hide anything.

      I did find a file called AUTOLOGIN.DB. It is a small file, only 9kb, but I am unable to take ownership of it. Do you think this file as any bearing?

      3. In the SECURITY screen I made sure that all of the boxes were clicked. FULL CONTROL and all of the other boxes were ticked, except for SPECIAL PERMISSIONS. When I try to click on that nothing happens. Is that normal?

      I also went to the EFFECTIVE PERMISSIONS tab and made sure that when I type in my user name everything is clicked, including TAKE CONTROL.

      4. Yes, I tried disabling both the firewall and the antvirus and taking permission again, but that did not help. I have been safely removing the HDD and rebooting my laptop between every change in configuration, just to leave no stone unturned.

      5. With the information you have now, do you think the problem lies with the laptop or with the HDD? Any educated guesses?

      6. I have learned over the years that going to a computer repair store in pretty much useless in southeast Asia. It seems that all they know how to do is reformat a HDD and replace genuine operating systems with pirated software. So, I have to solve this online.

      Please let me know if you have any new ideas.

      I am a writer and linguist. If you help me solve this problem, I promise to compose an epic poem praising you. I will inscribe it onto baked-clay tablets and bury them in Mesopotamia, where they will be found by archaeologists in a few thousand years and your glory will live forever!

      Seriously, thanks for your time!

      Kevin

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    3. In the SECURITY screen I made sure that all of the boxes were clicked. FULL CONTROL and all of the other boxes were ticked, except for SPECIAL PERMISSIONS. When I try to click on that nothing happens. Is that normal?

    Yep, I don’t have that checked either.

    Download and run Malwarebytes (it’s a free program, and the best out there) When you install it it will ask if you want to try the trial version of the software, just say no (as you already have an anti-virus) and run a scan on your laptop (C: drive) and External HDD (probably E: or F:). The reason that I want you to run Malwarebytes, is to make sure that there isn’t anything dodgy on your drives that maybe causing the issue. It will also find any rootkits.

    When you right-click on the HDD and go Properties>Security>Advanced>Permissions. Select the user that you are going to give permissions to (like Owner etc) Then click Change Permissions>Edit and make sure that all of the boxes are checked. Uncheck any in the Deny field.

    Run Malwarebytes first, so that we can make sure that the PC is clean.
    http://www.malwarebytes.org/

    Also, make sure that any sign of Avast is also removed. You already have Kaspersky as your main anti-virus, so making sure that all elements of Avast are removed would be a good idea.

    http://www.avast.com/uninstall-utility

  • Kevin

    Hi,

    I ran the Avast Uninstall utility as you suggested. I also ran Malwarebytes (Full scan) on all of the drives. It did find three registry problems:

    Hijack.ControlPanelStyle – Registry Value
    PUM.Hijack.StartMenu – Registry Data
    PUM.Hijack.Help – Registry Data

    I don’t know if any of these are related to my problems (I don’t think so, from the names of the files). In any case after removing these items I still cannot see the missing folders. I also notice that if I try to do a search on the external HDD for one of the missing file names it comes back with no results in about half a second. That is not long enough to search a 1TB HDD, so it looks like the search function is only searching through the few dozen top-level files.

    Sorry to eat up more of your time on this.

    Thanks!

    Kevin

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Kevin,

    Those finding by Malwarebytes could be false positives.
    Can you give me the make and model of your Transcend external HDD? I’m wondering if the hard drive itself has a fault. It may be fine, but it’s another area to check as we have tried quite a few diffent things now.
    http://www.transcend-info.com/Support/DLCenter/index.asp?LangNo=0&Func1No=3&Func2No=205#L2
    There should be a diagnosic tool for the hard drive, which can give a health check on the drive itself as well as having a recovery tool. If you do use these tool, be careful that you DON’T reformat the drive in any way shape or for. That is the last thing you want.

  • Kevin

    Hi,

    I have already removed the three items that Malwarebytes found. Even if they were false positives, removing them has not yet had any effect, positive or negative, on my system.

    My HDD is a StoreJet 25H2P USB 2.0, with 1TB capacity. It was not dropped or exposed to water, extreme temperatures or anything like that. It was working fine until I had some kind of black screen error where I could not boot up. After having the OS re-installed the folders were no longer visible. I will try the diagnostic tool from the Transcend web site and then get back to you.

    By the way, is it okay to use your first name when I respond to you. You signed of with your name once but I don’t know if that was by mistake and if you would rather not use it in these messages. Please advise.

    Thanks again!

    Kevin

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Kevin,

    Looking at the software that they supply for that HDD, the only software that may help, is the Transcend Elite software. Don’t use the other two as they mainly deal with formatting.
    The Transcend Elite software has a data recovery tool, which you can use to check to see if the software is able to see the data.

    One other thing (seperate to the above) When you browse through the files/ folders on your external HDD are you able to drag any files over to your laptop?

    No worries about using my name by the way. Most people either know me as Richard or Dickie. Either is OK.

  • Kevin

    Hi,

    I found some recovery software called RecoverRx on the Transcend site:

    I am missing about 720GB of data but I only have a 250GB HDD on my laptop. I will try to find a computer with enough space, so I can copy the files to the other computer and see if it works. It may take me some time to find a computer with a big enough HDD here in Vientiane. I will let you know as soon as I am able to try it out, hopefully within a few days.

    Thanks again for everything. I will let you know if it works.

    Kevin

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    You could also try running a check disk on the external hdd. To do this, locate the devive in My Computer. Then right-click on it and Properties>Tools>Error Checking>Check Now. Tick both boxes and hit Start. You shouldn’t have to restart to perform this as it’s not the system drive. (If you were to do this on your C: drive then a restart would be required) It’s a good idea to run this check on your HDD every now and then, so also run it on your C: drive (system) as well, after running it on the external one.

  • Kevin

    I did try to run Check Disk a few days ago. It took many hours and I fell asleep when it was 94% finished. When I woke up, my computer had been automatically restarted and I did not see the Check Disk report. I will try to run it again and stay awake to see the result!

  • http://www.google.com Hans

    Superb explanation

    • http://techfleece.com thegift73

      Thank you Hans.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/Stutski Andrea

    You saved my entire drive. Prior to reading this, I was not clicking on a certain little important checkbox ‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’. Thank you SO incredibly much.

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hey Andrea,

    Glad to hear that it helped you and your data is safe. Now just make sure that you have it backed up somewhere on-line, just in case the hard drive fully dies.

  • Lee

    I followed all the procedures above, and the hard drive is now NTFS with my current computer as the owner, but I still cannot see My Documents. The only file in the drive is Program Files.

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Lee,

    Have you tried giving ‘Everyone’ full permissions until you are able to see the folder, making sure that all the boxes are checked (Full Control, Modify, Read, Write etc)

    You state that, ‘and the hard drive is now NTFS’. What was it before?

    • Lee

      Thank you for responding. I have changed all permissions. And, I shouldn’t have made it confusing by specifying it was NTFS. I don’t know what it was before, I only know that it is NTFS now.

  • rudy martinez

    Thank you very very much, your article regarding this application was extremely helpful, we need more people like thoughs in your organization. I am also a person with integrity and am very helpful if you want or need me to be. When needed I will share this with others. Thank you once again.

  • perfekt

    hey thanks a lot worked for me ! greetings from france baby

  • Ross

    Hi, Thanks so much for the advice but I’ve hit a brick wall in my attempt to access a drive I took out of a dead laptop.
    When I get to the stage when it should start the process of taking ownership I get a pop-up window telling me “An error occurred while taking applying security information to . The data is write protected.”
    There is a continue button but I get this pop-up for every single file it reaches. I tried pressing continue over and over for 5 minutes in the hope that maybe it was only the files in one folder that would have this problem but it seems to be everything.
    Do you have any advice of how to get around this problem?
    Thanks very much in advance!

    • Ross

      Oh… and just in case it makes a difference…. because the external drive wasn’t appearing in my computer when I plugged it in, I am having to use ‘Find and mount’ to get into the drive.

      • thegift73

        Hi Ross,

        Couple of things to try in this case (I take it that you made sure that you gave the new owner ‘yourself’ Full Control, when trying the normal route here):

        You can remove the Write Protected attribute in the registry, or use DiskPart:

        For the registry way see Afzal’s reply here:
        http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-security/usb-hard-drive-is-write-protected-and-will-not-run/a413d47c-6586-484b-92fb-ce77d7821bbb?tab=AllReplies#tabs

        If that doesn’t work, see RealBeast’s way using DiskPart here:
        http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/284414-14-removing-write-protection

        Hope that helps?

      • Ross

        Wow, thanks for the fast response!
        The first option made no difference unfortunately. I was trying the second option using DiskPart but I’ve come against the problem that when I see the list of volumes, the one that is my external HDD isn’t listed (as far as I can see). When I mounted it I named it drive A and it’s not in the list of drives offered to me. I have Volume 0 (E) which is the DVD-ROM, Volume 1 (no letter but has the label ‘System’), Volume 2 (C – boot), Volume 3 (D – recovery), and Volume 4 (no letter but with the label HP_TOOLS). I thought Volume 4 could be it but the size is only 103MB whereas my external HDD has 122 GB on it.
        Has this got anything to do with using Find and Mount? I don’t really understand what it is to be honest and rather than copying folders from the drive onto my computer I’m trying to access them whilst mounted. I have tried copying the folders but it doesn’t seem to work as the window that pops up shows ‘0 bytes copied’ and just stays at that…
        Perhaps the question about DiskPart I should ask to RealBeast in that forum?
        Many thanks again for your support!

      • thegift73

        “When I mounted it I named it drive A and it’s not in the list of drives offered to me.”

        Drive A is/should be the floppy drive if it has one? Have you tried giving your external hdd another letter (like M for example) It may have nothing to do with it, but it may be causing an issue calling it A?

        Volume 4 is the system reserve partition at a guess (depending on your setup) 103MB sounds correct for this.

        I will try to have a look around for more information that may help. Sorry I don’t have a definitive answer for you.

      • Ross

        I think I’ve done it!
        I found that when I went to Disk Management, the external drive was offline because of something to do with the signature. This may be due to the fact that the HDD is out of a laptop of exactly the same make and model as the laptop I was now using to access it (my girlfriend and I both bought the same laptop on the same day). Anyway, all I had to do was bring it online and now I have access all of a sudden! No need even for Find and Mount!

        Thanks for all the effort you put into finding a solution for me. Let me know if there’s any way I can get some kind of payment to you for your time. It’s a brilliant service you’re offering.
        All the best,

        Ross

      • thegift73

        Hey Ross,

        Thanks for posting back with the solution, as that may help future posters. I have to admit that I have never had a ‘Signature Collision’ issue before so I had a look at some articles relating to it. Mark Russinovich (creator of Sysinternals) has written a great article on the issue here:
        http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2011/11/08/3463572.aspx

        P.s No need for payment, as this is a free site and the tutorials are a resource for people. I do this as I enjoy helping people out, as people helped me out on forums and such when I first started out.

        Post back if you have further problems.

        Richard

  • Magnus

    I just followed this for both of my external hard drives (permissions and ownership got screwed up on them both immediately AFTER a clean install). I still do not have full permissions or ownership – I followed this procedure EXACTLY, not one missed step.

    Drives are properly formatted, NTFS and I am running Windows 7 Ultimate x64. The Clean Install was performed correctly, also. The hard drives were working perfectly prior to this to and this is the first time I have ever had this issue out of countless factory image restores (however, this was my first clean install -apart from the original RTM install-, my OEM OS restore image refused to work after replacing the system’s dead hard drive with an “Advanced Format” drive [so I had to run out and get the full retail version]- and these external hard drives are standard types and they were working fine alongside the main system “Advanced Format” drive all this year up until after this clean install.

    So… what do I do now? I know this is a permissions problem, owing to the fact that BOTH externals are affected, so I’d really appreciate the help on how to gain full control of the drives since this ownership thing did not work (even after it claimed it was changing the permissions on all files on them). Problem is, there are DOZENS of entries in the “Select User or Group” tab, so I’m unsure which one is actually THIS account, to manually change the actual permissions (which, in any case, are apparently FALSELY claiming I already DO have ‘full control’???).

    Please help! Thank you.

  • http://facebook.com/djchango.htx Christian V.

    Well, attempting this method, i came across an obstacle. i have a 250 gb HDD that also has a Back up drive of 10 gb, known as a recovery Drive. Now, when i Connected the HDD, i Used a Goflex Seagate External HardDRive’s Connection, which fit perfectly to My laptops old Hardrive. problem is, only the recovery drive is accesible. and the other drive appears empty. my desktop runs on Windows 7, so u could usually see the memory usage on My computer, but its blank. all it says is “OS (F:) NTFS and nuthing more. i tried to go to its properties, but i dont see the tab that consists of Ownership. Im stumped. help plz.

    • thegift73

      Hi Christian,

      When accessing the external HDD via My Computer, right-clicking on it, select Properties>Security>Advanced (at the bottom) There is no Ownership tab showing?

  • Jenessa

    I’m having an issue with my external drive. I just built a new pc and am running win 7. I previously had full control with no issues with my external, but when i built my new pc I now have no access. I use my external for music, pictures, videos, and my backups of my internal drive. I was able to change the permissions and gain ownership of most my stuff, but the music file and video file keeps having a security error. Do you have any suggestions on how to fix this?

    • thegift73

      Hi Jenessa,

      What did the security error say?

      Did you check the ‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’ box and hit Apply. Just prior to starting the taking of ownership? Make sure that box is checked.

      • Jenessa

        the error told me access was denied. yes i did check replace owner on all subcontainers and objects and applied settings. looks like i can go in to each individual folder and set each individual song or video to full access for administrators, but that would take forever.

    • thegift73

      Hi Jenessa,

      Try downloading the reg file below. Unzip by dragging the 2 files to your desktop. Double click on the ‘InstallTakeOwnership.reg’ file. Hit Yes and OK when asked.
      Now right-click the parent folder where your files are, for example Music Folder which also contains subsequent child folders, and choose Take Ownership.

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

      • Jenessa

        thank you! you just saved me a lot of time!

  • Maria

    Hello. Your website is awesome and I have found information that is extremely useful.

    I have two internal drives which were plagued by viruses. I did clean them up using Avast and Malaware and removed one of them from the computer case and placed them in in hard drive enclosure. However, I can’t see the files. My OS is Win7 64. I have followed the steps in taking ownership to no avail. When I get to the last step from the first part and it is changing ownership it comes back with “K://Boot Access Denied”. I continue and I continue to get other errors such as “K:\bootmg The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error,” or K:\BOOTSECT.BAK The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.” I am not very computer savy but I know some where I can fix some problems. However, this one is out of my league.

    Any suggestions or solutions?

    Thanks

    • thegift73

      Hi Maria,

      Sorry for the late reply.

      “I have two internal drives which were plagued by viruses. I did clean them up using Avast and Malaware and removed one of them from the computer case and placed them in in hard drive enclosure. However, I can’t see the files. My OS is Win7 64. I have followed the steps in taking ownership to no avail.”

      I’m wondering if when you were hit by a virus, the virus may have hidden some of your files by adding the +H attribute. Running Malwarebytes or Avast may well remove the infection, but won’t unhide the hidden folders.

      The latest release of Unhide.exe now runs on connected USB’s and drives as well. It may be worth running the program (its free) on your system with the problem drive attached. Then re-do the Taking Ownership process again.

      http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/unhide/dl/6/

      When dealing with a virus infection that may well still be present, I would advise heading to a decent forum that will give free advise regarding your PC. The two forums that I prefer are:
      1] Tech Support Forum – http://www.techsupportforum.com/forums/f50/ (read the posting instructions first)
      2] Bleeping Computer – http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/forum103.html

      The Security people who help on these two forums are excellent at helping clean your system, and will also give advice on how to prevent future infections.

      • Maria

        Thank you for all the information. I did download the Unhide.exe and ran it but I did not achieve the results I was hoping for. The results are below:

        Program started at: 07/23/2012 03:19:20 PM
        Windows Version: Windows 7

        Please be patient while your files are made visible again.

        Processing the C:\ drive
        Finished processing the C:\ drive. 624126 files processed.

        Processing the D:\ drive
        Finished processing the D:\ drive. 84749 files processed.

        Processing the E:\ drive
        Finished processing the E:\ drive. 67 files processed.

        Processing the G:\ drive
        Finished processing the G:\ drive. 0 files processed.

        Processing the K:\ drive
        Finished processing the K:\ drive. 6 files processed.

        Processing the L:\ drive
        Finished processing the L:\ drive. 0 files processed.

        The C:\Users\Bimby\AppData\Local\Temp\smtmp\ folder does not exist!!
        Unhide cannot restore your missing shortcuts!!
        Please see this topic in order to learn how to restore default
        Start Menu shortcuts: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic405109.html

        Searching for Windows Registry changes made by FakeHDD rogues.
        – Checking HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Explorer
        – Checking HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
        No registry changes detected.

        Restarting Explorer.exe in order to apply changes.

        The two drives in question are E and K. At this time, drive E is coming up with an error message that reads: “The recycle bin on E is corrupted. Do you want to empty the recycle bin? In addition, E shows 29.6 mb used; 70.3 mb free and a total of 99.9 mb.,

        K on the other hand shows 62.5 mb used; 37.4 free and a total of 99 mb. This particular drive is 1gb. Either I lost the documents or they were erased somehow.

        But I cannot see any files still. Drive K will not allow a new owner.

        Can I reformat and maybe used them? I think I already lost my files anyway.

        Thank you for all your help.

      • thegift73

        Hi Maria,

        No, don’t reformat.

        The output from unhide.exe seems normal ans is just telling you what operations it carried out. I just wanted to double check that nothing was still being deliberately hidden.

        I take it that the computer you are typing from is perfectly fine, but it’s the external HDD that you have attached to the computer are the ones with the issues. When you have the drive/s connected and you go Start>My Computer>’right-click’ on the E Drive and select properties>Security>Advanced>Owner>Edit (select your user name in the change owner to box below) and tick the ‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’ box. Hit Apply and OK until it starts to run. Is that what you tried before without luck?

      • Derek Elphick

        I have tried everything and nothing works. I’M TRYING TO TAKE CONTROL OF A 1TB external hard drive. I’ve enabled the administrator account, tried takeown from an elevated command prompt, tried icacls from an elevated command promt, tried lock hunter in case there were any issues with a program blocking access, opened properties-security-Advanced-change owner, tried changing permissions, tried downloading the reg file, tried administrator options-disk management etc etc and nothing is successful. I can take ownership of individual files and folders but can’t inherit those changes. I keep getting “an error has occurred while trying to apply security information to:” So with several thousand files the only way seems to be an extremely long process of doing every file individually. The only solution seems to be to buy another external hard drive and copy the entire contents over which is my next step. I’m starting to hate windows :( If there are any other fixes solutions programs etc that may fix this I’d be most grateful.

      • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

        Hi Derek,

        Did you check the “replace owner on subcontainers and objects”, box during the process?

        There is a great little write up over at TechNet by user ‘GeorgeOfTheJungle2006′ that addresses this error, which should help you. Link below: (3rd reply to OP’s question)

        http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/1b55a043-3f37-4060-a562-8109d4a00c98/an-error-occurred-while-applying-security-information-to-cboot-cbootmgr-chiberfilsys?forum=winserversecurity

  • Maria

    I had a suspicion that the HD was still infected. I will check the two forums and post back. I’m at work now but will post with hopefully a resolution.

  • Maria

    Yes, I did. I have ownership for E drive since I see my name as the owner. But I cannot see the files I used to have.

    The one which is giving me serious problems is the K drive. The K drive is the one in the HD enclosure attached via USB. Every time I turn it on (the enclosure has an ON/Off button) my PC begins to act up. And you are correct, the desktop I have now is the one with a new HD. The K drive is the former C drive, which got corrupted with some viruses and Trojans. I can’t re-own it and can’t see my files. I believe it may have some seriously infected files.

    Thanks for all your help. I have bookmark the forums that you suggested and they are very informative. I’ll keep on reading until I find out what’s going on.

    • zontar

      This tutorial was made in 2011 but to help a poor soul struggling in 2014 and on: I had the same thing and didnt get it to work.

      Turns out i had my AVG anti-virus software installed incorrectly, it was installed directly on the D: partition without a map like D:AVG in between. i could not use my whole D: partition after that. Solution is to turn off your antivirus for a min or two, use the trick described above and change what you need (in my case an extra folder) and then turn it back on.

  • Matt

    To thegift73.
    I just did that and got into my files, thank you!
    The only problem was there was no security tab on my hard drive properties.
    The solution for that (in Win XP)is to click on: Tools, Folder options, view. At the bottom, “simple (file sharing?)” should not be checked. That fixed it.

    • thegift73

      Hi Matt,

      Ha! I can’t believe that I never spotted that I forgot to add that. Will edit and update, cheers.

      Richard

  • Matt

    OK, I now see you had that in the replies, but it looks better in the instructions.

    • thegift73

      Hey Matt,

      Yep, I also added it to the main article this evening. Thanks for spotting that I missed it out.

      Richard

  • Adam

    Well, I’ve followed these instructions to the letter, and tried it the other way, and I STILL cannot gain access to the files. Although, one thing that’s changed is there are little padlock icons on all the folders and files, and I’m assuming that’s something to do with my old computer requiring a password.

    either way, I HATE windows 7 with a passion and the worst thing i ever did was buy a laptop with windows 7 in it.

  • Rene

    I just followed your procedure, and everything went along to the letter EXCEPT – every now and then during the swap, it would pop up “access denied,” as though there were particular files or folders that it still won’t accept. Any ideas?

    • thegift73

      Hi Rene,

      Did you make sure to check ‘‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’ when going Start>My Computer>’right-click’ on the *E Drive and select properties>Security>Advanced>Owner>Edit (select your user name in the change owner to box below)

      There is also another way to do this which is by adding a ‘Take Ownership’ option to the right-click menu and doing it that way. Try downloading the reg file below. Unzip by dragging the 2 files to your desktop. Double click on the ‘InstallTakeOwnership.reg’ file. Hit Yes and OK when asked.
      Now right-click the parent folder where your files are, for example Music Folder which also contains subsequent child folders, and choose Take Ownership.

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

      * Drive may differ for you

  • Anonymous

    Genius! thank you!!!!!!!

  • YouKnowWho

    Thank You. It worked like magic and easy to follow.

    • thegift73

      @YouKnowWho

      Glad it helped :-)

  • Craig Wilson

    I had a similar problem with an external hard drive I store my music and movies on when trying to access it from someone else’s machine (which kind of defeated my purpose in storing them there, since I wanted the library to be portable).

    The short term solution was just to activate the hidden administrator account on the machine I was using, switch-user to that account and then access anything at all (by opening a command prompt as admin, typing “net user administrator /active:yes”). NOTE: When done, don’t forget to switch-user back and disable that account (same procedure, just substituting “no” for “yes” at the end of the command line). Someone who doesn’t know what they are doing can do an incredible amount of damage with that account – which is why it is disabled by default in Windows 7.

    To permanently get rid of the error message and allow anyone to access any file on the drive from any machine, you can open a command prompt as admin (as above) and type “icacls G:\* /T /C /grant everyone:(OI)(CI)F and press enter (where G: is the dive letter of the external drive, of course). Be prepared to wait a loooooong time if it is a big drive with a lot of files on it, however. Mine is a one terabyte drive with about 70,000 songs and 350 movies, and it took many, many, many hours to finish the job.

  • daniel

    Dear Richard,
    I am not very tech saavy. My computer recently died, but my hard drive still is ok (though it is clocking at a hot temp). The local shop can retrieve my data for me for $150, but it seems like I could do the same thing with a Plugable USB 3.0/2.0 SATA Hard Drive Docking Station. I do not want to lose my data and it is tempting to pay the money to not risk losing my data, yet of course I much rather save the money. Is this a pretty straight forward task or do the risks of losing the data run higher for the average Joe like me? The shop said that I could come across the problem of “taking ownership” like your article mentions. It seems like a doable fix according to your article. I have the additional concern that I will get a message that reads: “Do you want to initialize this drive” like an SD card can. How likely is this? If so, then what? Are there other concerns I could run into by retrieving the data myself? Once I am able to read the data, will it be like looking onto my previous drive or will I have to dig to find things? I am sorry for all of the rambling. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.

    • thegift73

      Hi Daniel,

      I have the additional concern that I will get a message that reads: “Do you want to initialize this drive” like an SD card can. How likely is this? If so, then what?

      I have taken ownership of quite a few hard drives in the past, but have yet to come across a machine asking me that question. That said, if there is a physical problem with the HDD then it may happen. If you do ever get that message and there is data on the HDD that is important to you, then DO NOT allow the computer to initialize the HDD (Don’t click OK), or else you will lose the data. Now if it does come up with that message, then there are other ways that we can get to the data like using a Ubuntu Linux livecd to access it. If that is the case then I will walk you through that as well.

      As for the other question of whether or not you would be able to take ownership of the HDD yourself, even though you are not that tech savvy, then sure you will be able to do it. I am more than willing to help you step-by-step if you like.

      Just let me know when you are ready to start taking ownership of the drive and we’ll go from there. It is fairly simple to do, but I guess that at first it can be quite daunting. It was the first time I had to do it.

      I am on UK time and currently at work, however I will keep an eye out for this thread to see when you are ready.

  • Anonymous

    I had to retrieve my files from my hard drive after my laptop’s motherboard fried. I used the Manhattan drive enclosure to retrieve my hard drive to my new computer but I couldn’t open the files. I used your procedure to take ownership and was able to see my files I did get a lot of “access denied ” messages and I downloaded you take ownership zip file. Thanks for help with this.

  • Anonymous

    hey, my motherboard failed on my old hp laptop, i now have a new laptop and just go a caddy for my harddrive when i try to open this it says it is not accessible when i get to the taking ownership part it then says, unable to set new owner! help!!

    • thegift73

      Hi,

      You will need to be running as administrator in order to Take Ownership. Have you checked to make sure that you are?

      There is also another way to do this which is by adding a ‘Take Ownership’ option to the right-click menu and doing it that way. Try downloading the reg file below. Unzip by dragging the 2 files to your desktop. Double click on the ‘InstallTakeOwnership.reg’ file. Hit Yes and OK when asked.
      Now right-click the parent folder where your files are, for example Music Folder which also contains subsequent child folders, and choose Take Ownership.

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

      * Drive may differ for you

  • Terry

    Highly appriciate, article presented in practical manner, without any difficulty. It solved my problem that was a hardle for me since two weeks, besides much browsing on net.

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Glad you got it sorted out Terry. Thanks for the comment.

  • Quni

    hey. i installed my old hdd in my new computer. I followed the instructions to a T. when every thing was finished, and i wanted to exit the properties menu the next poped up :an error occurred while applying security info to : D :Documents and settings . access is denied. continue /cancel. when i clicked continue . it runs through changing the owenership. once finished i try to exit the properties menu again, and the same happes. i restarted. now at the properties im the owner of the hdd. but i still cant acses the data of ‘my documents’ of the old hdd? any sugestions?

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi Quni,

      Did you make sure to check ‘‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’ when going Start>My Computer>’right-click’ on the *E Drive and select properties>Security>Advanced>Owner>Edit (select your user name in the change owner to box below)

      There is also another way to do this which is by adding a ‘Take Ownership’ option to the right-click menu and doing it that way. Try downloading the reg file below. Unzip by dragging the 2 files to your desktop. Double click on the ‘InstallTakeOwnership.reg’ file. Hit Yes and OK when asked.
      Now right-click the parent folder where your files are, for example Music Folder which also contains subsequent child folders, and choose Take Ownership.

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

      Let me know if that helps.

      • Quni

        retried the whole proses, and tried the take ownership. doesnt work. still cant open the data? al that changed is the icon now has a lock?

      • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

        Hi Quni,

        Did you also try the ‘Take Ownership’ reg file linked at the bottom of the first reply?

        The reason that you have a padlock on the folder may be due to the fact that the folder isn’t being shared with anyone and is a sharing issue. I haven’t personally come across this myself, but have had a look around and this seems the same issue that other people have had when taking ownership sometimes.

        Are you on a network or single user PC? Try right-clicking on the file Properties>Share With>Specific People> and then select yourself. Or Try right-clicking on the file Properties>Share With>Specific People> Home Group (read/write)

        Another thing to double check is to see that when you are taking permission (changing ownership) is to make sure that all the boxes are ticked for the permissions section.

  • Phil

    This looks great but I have one question which I hope you can answer. I have taken the hard drive out of a laptop that had water spilled on it and am able to read it after connecting to another laptop. If I take ownership of the drive or individual files, will I still be able to read it if I reinstall it to the original laptop (assuming I can get it to boot after it is fully dry!) ?

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi Phil,

      Yes, you will still be able to access the files should you reconnect the HDD back to the original computer. However you may well have to take ownership again. In either case you should still be fine.

      If you do get any issues, let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

      • Pea

        Hi Richard,

        Recently my windows crashed and I could not log in to windows. Hence, I removed the HDD from my laptop and connected it to another laptop via sata adapter and after taking ownership of the drive, I could copy all my data to the second laptop. I didn’t change ownership back after this. Now I put the HDD back in first laptop and did a clean install of windows xp home edition. I created an account for myself when it asked during set up and while surfing through chrome, it downloaded few files which when I see in explorer, shows in C:/Documents and Settings/Administrator/Desktop. But when I go to safe mode to access Administrator account, it doesn’t show on desktop. So I went to C:/Documents and Settings and noticed that there are following accounts:

        All Users

        Administrator
        Administrator.EliteBook
        Default User

        XYZ (the account I had created while set up)

        The file I downloaded shows in the Administrator account and not in Administrator.EliteBook but at the logon prompt, when I type Administrator, then it logs me in the Administrator.EliteBook

        And when I type Administrator.EliteBook, it doesn’t accept it.

        Please help. Thanks a ton!

  • http://www.facebook.com/neilly.burns Neilly Burns

    Hi, Im trying to recover my files from a harddrive on a laptop were it wouldnt boot up beyond the windows startup screen. Ive plugged in my enclosure USB to another laptop with this harddrive and I have followed the steps to get ownership to the files that I want to recover. But I was wondering how long this process can take, I started it at 2.30pm and its now 23.30pm and still going. the “changing ownership of” thing is still going through files so it hasn’t frozen and i’m only trying to access the user file which wasn’t particularly big in size either.

    Any help would be great, thanks!

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi Neilly,

      To be honest it shouldn’t take more than 10 mins at most. The ones I have done are usually between 3-10 mins, but I guess that it comes down to the size of the HDD you are working on and the speed of the PC that you have the HDD connected to. The amount of time that your is taking would indicate something is wrong (physically) eith the HDD. You said: “I’m trying to recover my files from a harddrive on a laptop were it wouldnt boot up beyond the windows startup screen”.

      The reason that your laptop couldn’t boot past the Windows start screen may well be down to a faulty HDD which would also probably be why the Changing Ownership is taking such a long time. You could attempt to let it continue as it seems like it is working albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace, but I would defiantly run some diagnostic tools on the HDD when you can to check for errors.

      • http://www.facebook.com/neilly.burns Neilly Burns

        Thanks Richard,

        I let it run all night and it still didn’t finish so I stopped it. I tried system restore and repair on my laptop before which didn’t work but came up with error codes etc…. Is there any other way to get access to these files without changing permissions. If there is something wrong with the HDD then attempting a factory restore will be out of the question after??

        Thanks again.

  • Steyn

    I am trying to do what you explain, but in Windows 8 I don’t have the option “owner”. So what must I do now?

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      @b056bba8422f89632d5bfe7c3885fcc1:disqus I will be doing another article for Windows 8 soon. There is also another way to do this which is by adding a ‘Take Ownership’ option to the right-click menu and doing it that way. Try downloading the reg file below. Unzip by dragging the 2 files to your desktop. Double click on the ‘InstallTakeOwnership.reg’ file. Hit Yes and OK when asked.
      Now right-click the parent folder where your files are, for example Music Folder which also contains subsequent child folders, and choose Take Ownership.

      The reg file will work for Windows 7 and 8

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

    • Riiigghht__O

      In Windows 8, Owner is mentioned and changeable at the top of the dialog…it does Not have it’s own tab. Just click on ‘Change’

  • mmee

    unable to set new owner. access denied. is there anyway to get around this? my situation is the same as yours except i’m doing it for my brother.

    thanks

    • mmee

      update to obove request. ignore it :). i was trying it on the wrong drive. apparently when i connected the hard drive with all the above shown cables attached to it to my lap top via the usb cable, the laptop does not even recognize it so there is nothing there for me to access so i can get the files out of it. is there a way to scan for the new connection to my laptop so it can recognize this external thing i am trying to access? i went to device manager but i didn’t see anything that could help me or i just don’t know how to do it. pls help. thank you

  • Pingback: Take Ownership, Permisions,Remove Folder/ File Locks, On All in non system Drive()

  • richard

    Hi, If only i got this site before i did some silly things on the hard drive. Anyway, my first problem was the same as you discussed. But since i didnt know how to solve the access denied problem, i just unplugged the cable without the “safely remove hardware.” And the scary part happened when i connect the harddrive to the computer again. I couldnt locate the previous drives (which previously can be accessed) and only the system preference drive. When i remove again, it suddenly popped up a window mentioning format drive G and F (i think those are my previous drives). Any ideas what should i do?

    Appreciate any help. Thanks.

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi richard Firstly, try reconnecting the HDD (Hard Drive) again, and then head over to Disk Management and try to refresh to see if you can see your drive. Start>right-click on My Computer>Manage>Disk Management>Action (at the top of the Disk Management window)>Refresh. If you still can’t see your device then there is another way.

      Download a Linux LiveCD (32-bit version is fine) via the link below.

      http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop

      Burn it to a CD using something like ImgBurn or what ever you normally use to burn CD/DVD’s.

      Plug the HDD that you have files on that you need to recover.

      Now once the LiveCD has been created you will need to boot to it. (like you would if you were installing windows for the first time) You may need to change your settings in BIOS to make your computer boot to the CD first instead of your normal hard drive.

      Once it has booted to the LiveCD, choose your preferred language (I presume English) and then select “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”.

      You should now see the Ubuntu desktop. At the top choose Places and you will hopefully see your HDD that you wish to recover data from appear in the list. Click on that to access it. Linux will ignore Windows security policies so no worries regarding taking ownership.

      Now find the data that you want and transfer it to another hard drive/USB that you have plugged in.

      Notes: The Linux LiveCD is free to use and won’t cause any changes to your computer unless of course you tell it to.

      Let me know how you get on.

      Richard

  • Peter smith

    I do not have an owner tab when I go into the advanced security settings. Any ideas?

  • Nathan

    Hey I get up to, Windows will now start the process of changing ownership of the files and folders on the drive but it says ‘an error accured with applying security information, access denied’ Because I have all my folders on there but all my files aren’t there but it still has the same amount of GB used up so I know they are there :( help please

  • http://www.facebook.com/m.a.michalko Michael-Annilie Michalko

    I tried taking back ownership of my files but I keep getting an error that it is copywrite protected? Help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/subbarao.yarramsetty Subbarao Yarramsetty

    Hi…This is subbarao form Inida. I am using vista sp1, I have external hard disk segate 1TB. I have put security restrictions on some of the folders. when ever I want to see them it asks me the permission. any why I have taken out the security for some of the files/videos then watching them. now recently I have re installed my vista. now I am unable to see those folders itself on my hard disk and in other laptops also. even I can’t see them on others laptop before re install. Now i have tried what you said above exactly and still now I am unable to watch them. Can you please help me in this regard. but i can see their names in the above process.

    • Graylodge

      There are several ways to go about grabbing ownership of files and folders, but most of them are convoluted, complicated and frequently lead to error messages that then need to be researched and dealt with. However, by using the Administrator account (NOT “an” administrator account, but “THE” Administrator account), one can use the icacls command to do pretty much anything one wants with the discretionary access control lists (DACLs).

      In Vista, Win 7 and Win 8, the Administrator account can be restored (it is disabled by default) by bringing up a command prompt (run as administrator, of course), and typing “net user administrator /active:yes” (without the quotation marks). Then switch user to that account (no password unless somebody already activated that account and put one in), bring up a command prompt (run as administrator) again, and type the following to strip all restrictions from all files and folders on drive X and allow access to any user on any machine you plug the drive into:

      icacls X:* /T /C /grant everyone: (OI) (CI) (F

      When it is done running, close the command prompt window, switch user back to your own account, bring up the command prompt (as admin) a third time, and deactivate the Administrator account by typing “net use administrator /active:no”

      I have never known this method to fail.

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  • Ishaan

    Thank You sooo much. Thought I had lost all my files and my work + pictures.
    Thanks

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      No problem, glad it helped. Just make sure to get them backed up somewhere else as well.

      Good luck and thanks for the comment.

      • Ishaan

        Thanks. Will Do!!

  • sarat

    Dude,u r a genius…I had so many important documents and videos in my hdd.When my laptop harddisk crashed and i changed it, i couldnt access my external hdd.Thnx to you i can access it again.Thank you very much.

  • kads

    I followed all these steps and took ownership of drive..I could open drive and folders, but when I open pictures folder and click on a photo..message came up saying access denied blah blah….so why cant I still get access to photos??..I need to take all photos off this drive and put them into my new computer.

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi kads

      Can you double check that you followed the Taking Ownership steps correctly, as missing something can be easy to do.

      Here are a couple of other ways to do this:

      The people over at How To Geek have created a .reg file that will allow you to Take Ownership of a drive just by right-clicking on it and selecting Take Ownership. Simply download the .reg file and extract the two files to the desktop. Right-click on the ‘InstallTakeOwnership.reg’ file and choose ‘Merge’. Say ‘Yes’ to any prompts to finish. Now when you open up My Computer to see the various attached hard drives on your computer, you simply have to select which folder you wish to Take Ownership of in that drive by right-clicking on it and choosing, ‘Take Ownership’. It will then automatically start to Take Ownership of the folder and sub-folders for you.

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

      If that still isn’t working then you can also opt to completely ignore the security policies that NTFS has in place by accessing the files via an Ubuntu Live CD.

      Download a Linux LiveCD (32-bit version is fine) via the link below.

      http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop

      Burn it to a CD using something like ImgBurn or what ever you normally use to burn CD/DVD’s.

      Plug the HDD that you have files on that you need to recover.

      Now once the LiveCD has been created you will need to boot to it. (like you would if you were installing windows for the first time) You may need to change your settings in BIOS to make your computer boot to the CD first instead of your normal hard drive.

      Once it has booted to the LiveCD, choose your preferred language (I presume English) and then select “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”.

      You should now see the Ubuntu desktop. At the top choose Places and you will hopefully see your HDD that you wish to recover data from appear in the list. Click on that to access it. Linux will ignore Windows security policies so no worries regarding taking ownership.

      Now find the data that you want and transfer it to another hard drive/USB that you have plugged in.

      Notes: The Linux LiveCD is free to use and won’t cause any changes to your computer unless of course you tell it to.

      Let me know how you get on.

  • ishmael

    hi, I ve done everything you said and even downloaded the install take ownership stuff and done that too, but when i try to open some files, not all of them the important files for me music as i work as a dj pictures and vids there is like a lock on the icons of files and folders and doesint let me open it. could it be because the hdd was on a windows XP and now im trying from a windows 7? and what should i do? thankyou very much

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi ishmael

      If that still isn’t working then you can also opt to completely ignore the security policies that NTFS (this is what is forcing you to take ownership) has in place by accessing the files via a Ubuntu Live CD.

      Download a Linux LiveCD (32-bit version is fine) via the link below.

      http://www.ubuntu.com/download

      Burn it to a CD using something like ImgBurn or whatever you normally use to burn CD/DVD’s.

      Attach the HDD that you have files on that you need to recover to a working PC.

      Now once the LiveCD has been created you will need to boot to it. (like you would if you were installing windows for the first time) You may need to change your settings in BIOS to make your computer boot to the CD first instead of your normal hard drive.

      Once it has booted to the LiveCD, choose your preferred language (I presume English) and then select “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”.

      You should now see the Ubuntu desktop. At the top choose Places and you will hopefully see your HDD that you wish to recover data from appear in the list. Click on that to access it. Linux will ignore Windows security policies so no worries regarding taking ownership.

      Now find the data that you want and transfer it to another hard drive/USB that you have plugged in.

      Notes: The Linux LiveCD is free to use and won’t cause any changes to your computer unless of course you tell it to.

      Let me know how you get on. I am out for most of the day today, but I will try to keep an eye on this article on my mob, to give you more help if you need it.

  • Stevie Anderson

    Awesome. v straight forward & works like a charm.the mrs was convinced we’d lost everything.
    Many thanks ;-)

  • Amélie Morency

    i get stuck at the stage when i have to change the owner..the computer says access denied again. what do I do then?

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi Amélie Morency, after selecting the Owner tab, go Edit and then check the box next to ‘Replace owner on sub-containers and objects’ box and hit Apply. I have added an extra image showing this.

      If this still doesn’t work then you can try using the Take Ownership registry file, that will allow you to take ownership of a folder by simply right-clicking on it and choosing, ‘Take Ownership’. Simply download the .reg file from the link below and double click on it to allow it to be added to your context menu.

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

      If that still isn’t working then you can also opt to completely ignore the security policies that NTFS (this is what is forcing you to take ownership) has in place by accessing the files via a Ubuntu Live CD.

      Download a Linux LiveCD (32-bit version is fine) via the link below.

      http://www.ubuntu.com/download

      Burn it to a CD using something like ImgBurn or whatever you normally use to burn CD/DVD’s.

      Attach the HDD that you have files on that you need to recover to a working PC.

      Now once the LiveCD has been created you will need to boot to it. (like you would if you were installing windows for the first time) You may need to change your settings in BIOS to make your computer boot to the CD first instead of your normal hard drive.

      Once it has booted to the LiveCD, choose your preferred language (I presume English) and then select “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”.

      You should now see the Ubuntu desktop. At the top choose Places and you will hopefully see your HDD that you wish to recover data from appear in the list. Click on that to access it. Linux will ignore Windows security policies so no worries regarding taking ownership.

      Now find the data that you want and transfer it to another hard drive/USB that you have plugged in.

      Notes: The Linux LiveCD is free to use and won’t cause any changes to your computer unless of course you tell it to.

  • Ashwin

    When I click on the local disk icon a pop up shows “Access denied” and “not accessible ” ….. Will this method work for that [i am on windows 7]

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi Ashwin,

      Hopefully. Are you trying to open some files that were originally stored on another computer by connecting that HDD to your computer to access them? If so then yes.

  • grande

    Hi,
    My hard drive worked fine till today and all of a sudden it says E:/ is not accessible Access Denied. I am pretty sure my friend connected my HDD to his Mac Book. I think thats when it started. So i connected my HDD to his Mac and other Windows laptop. But i showed up only on Mac. is it ntfs format before.. i cant remember. Please help me… I am a medical student and all my study videos and books,ppts are on that. Cant retrieve now. Please help me asap.
    Thank you

  • Pan Goul

    Hi Richard. Thanks for the nice article. I have succesfully gained access to my old files, but my question is this.
    I want now to reinstall the hdd back to the old pc, but with a new motherboard (identical to the old one that crashed). As all the files I wanted were saved in the old pc’s “Desktop” folder, will the new configuration (old hdd new motherboard) be able to boot after losing access to its old “Desktop” folder? I haven’t changed anything else.
    Thanks

  • Asmodeus

    hello, i recently re-isntaled windows on my on HDD, but i have 3 HDD’s and 1 of them works perfectly, although one of them does not allow me to watch movies on it, it says the files are restricted, and i have tried this method and more, i can not even rename or delete not even copy the files, any ideas?

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi,

      Have you tried booting to a Linux Live CD and copying them from the HDD that is giving you problems over to the HDD that is fine? By using the Linux route you will be bypassing the security restrictions of NTFS. You don’t have to install Linux, just boot to the Live CD and use that to access and copy the required files you want.

      Download a Linux LiveCD (32-bit version is fine) via the link below.

      http://www.ubuntu.com/download

      The other thing you can try is to use the Take Ownership .reg file. Then simply browse to the folder that contains the movies / files you want on the HDD that is causing you problems, and right-click on the folder and choose, ‘Take Ownership.’ You can download the .reg file below:-

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downloads/TakeOwnership.zip

      • Asmodeus

        Hello, thanks, i tried both the ideas you mention without any avail, still just slaps me in the face saying “you still need administration from *blabla* user to acces this file” the FUNNIEST thing is, that it wants my own user to administrate it, and i got pissed so i deleted a lot of files, but now there is a file i can not remove AT ALL….

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  • Paul Emery

    I have attempted to follow this directions but keep encountering an error specifically on the pictures. I get a pop up that tells me I will have to provide administrator permission to change these settings. I click okay, and then it says “An error occurred applying attributes to the file: file name Access denied.

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi Paul,

      Have you tried booting to a Linux Live CD and copying them from the HDD that is giving you problems over to the HDD that is fine? By using the Linux route you will be bypassing the security restrictions of NTFS. You don’t have to install Linux, just boot to the Live CD and use that to access and copy the required files you want.

      Download a Linux LiveCD (32-bit version is fine) via the link below.

      http://www.ubuntu.com/download

      The other thing you can try is to use the Take Ownership .reg file. Then simply browse to the folder that contains the movies / files you want on the HDD that is causing you problems, and right-click on the folder and choose, ‘Take Ownership.’ You can download the .reg file below:-

      http://www.howtogeek.com/downl

  • Gerardo

    Thank you so much, this completely helped me out. Works on Windows 8.1.

  • Romi

    Thanks alot dude. Your’e my salvation. :)

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  • Lance

    I have a HDD from my Compaq Presario f730US. I bought the adaptor kit, and downloaded the “take ownership” program from the internet. I went through the take ownership until it was done and was able to get pictures, however the main reason I did this was for the retrieval of my money program. Now when I click on Local disk G, and click on users and select my user name, then click on desktop, my money program is not there. it is no where to be found.

  • alanna

    hey there I get pretty much to the end but there is no replace owner box to click :/ im trying to do this with external harddrive btw :)

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  • http://gravatar.com/samspade66 samspade66

    Hello, I have a portable hdd which contains all my music, connected to my computer via usb. The drive owner is the administrators group. I believe all files and folders are also owned by the administrators group as I have never changed anything. I am the only user on my computer. I recently purchased a router (Linksys EA6500) and now have connected the same hdd to my router via usb. I did this so that I can access all my music via my network receiver. On the router I have the ‘secure folder access’ option turned off which says “The folders on your external storage device are currently accessible to everyone on your network”. The ‘FTP Server’ option is turned off. The ‘Media Server’ option is turned on, this should give me access with my network receiver.
    I have added one ‘shared media folder’ which is called ‘Music’. This folder contains roughly 100gb of music all located in separate folders for each artist/album.
    I can play music through my Denon AVR-X3000 network receiver just fine.
    However, my problem is as follows:
    1) I have 229 different Artists folders within the music folder. Only 215 of them show up on my network receiver.
    2) Of the artists that do show up, not all of the albums from this artist show up.
    Example (In the music folder I have a folder for the Artist ‘Rush’, within this folder I have about a dozen different Album folders. Only one of the albums shows up on my receiver)
    3) If I add another ‘shared media folder’ in my router settings and point directly to the folder ‘Rush’ then all the albums show up on my network receiver.
    I don’t want to add ‘shared media folders in my router for everything that does not show up since these are all within the ‘shared media folder’ music.
    It seems that when I copy new music onto my network hdd not all of it shows up on my receiver, some does some does not!
    If I try to delete files from the hdd some will delete fine others say I don’t have access and must obtain permission from the owner. I am an administrator!
    Also now that my hdd is attached to my router if I look at the properties for that drive the owner is now “root (Unix User\root)” It seems all folders are the same, ie owned by “root (Unix User\root)” Why is that?
    I am unable to change ownership of the drive as it says I don’t have administrator access.
    Anyone have an idea as to whats going on?

    Thanks

  • http://rvphotographysite.com/blog/ Rick Viel

    Trying to recover data from a crashed hard drive. I have a Sata/IDE to USB adapter by Vantec. I connect it to a PC and the drive shows in Explore as well as the 7 sub folders. Using the procedure above I try to reassign ownership to what was the main folder when it was in my PC which is probably about 1.6 GB in size. The process runs for about a minute reassigning ownership to probably hundreds of files. But always stops at a given file each time and says it can’t find the file. How can it ‘see’ the file in order to identify it and yet not find it? Tried several times with the same result at the same point. Any idea how to get past the roadblock? Also all the other sub folders in ‘F’ I can access and access files within them. For what its worth the file is found in F:\users\ name\AppData\ Local\Google\Chrome\User\f_001169. I’m Using Windows 7. Thanks — Sparky47

  • Techdef

    I don’t have an ‘owners’ tab once I go to advanced security settings. I am unable to proceed from there.

    Help Pleasee!
    Thank you for this great tutorial!

  • http://www.nadiaherrera.com Nad

    I have the same problem as Techdef, no “owners” tab! I’ve read this same procedure on several sites and no one seems to mention what to do if you don’t have an “owners” tab. Please help! Thanks.

    • http://techfleece.com/ thegift73

      Hi @Nad and @Techdef can you send me a link to a screen shot showing the ‘Owner tab’ missing. Also, please let me know which operating system you are using.

      Use http://imgur.com/ to upload the screenshot to.

  • Gaurav Sawhney

    Hi, I’m using a 2TB transcend external HDD. Randomly files are getting locked with the lock icon. If i try to open then then the following message I’m getting ” File is not accessible and directory name is invalid

    I’ve tried to do chkdsk /f /r but it takes over 24 hrs. and it is still at the below screen

    how do i access the files and solve this problem. I even added new files on this hard-disk and in 2-3 days they also became locked

    • http://techfleece.com/ TheGift73

      Hi Gaurav, can you give me a screenshot of what the lock icon looks like next to one of your files.

      If I were to hazard a guess at this time, I would say that Windows has made the files only accessible to the administrator of the machine (you) to protect them from being accessed by other people that don’t have the permissions to do so. In this way it protects those files, should someone attach the external HDD to their computer and attempt to access them.

      For example, here is an example of what happens when I right-click on a file on my desktop and choose Share With>. It will give me the options of:

      http://i.imgur.com/ZHYbJIt.jpg

      1. Nobody (only you the administrator)

      2. Homegroup (Read) – means that people on your Homegroup network (if you have files set up to be shared in your home connection) may read the file, but not make any changes to it

      3. Homegroup (Read/Write) People will have full permissions to read and edit the data within.

      Do you have a homegroup set up on your machine?

      Do you have bitlocker running on your external HDD?

      • Gaurav Sawhney

        Hi, Thanks a lot for the reply and looking into it

        Below are the snapshots

        1) Folder Icon and Error message : Folder icon may be coming with a lock or not but either ways I’m not able to access 50% files in my external HDD. This snapshot also has the error message when i double click to open the file

        2) Ownership of that folder : Below happens when i try to take ownership, it either gets stuck or gets and takes forever or gives an error of access denied

        3) When i try to take Ownership of entire hard-disk : below is what happens (message comes : ” recycle bin etc” depicted in snapshot) and after i click yes and it gets stuck (depicted in 2nd error message

        4) I did have a home group at home desktop but i use this hard disk mainly on my laptop to copy movies which in-turn i use on WDTV player to play on TV

        When i right click on the folder it says exactly what your snapshot says, “Lock icon next to Nobody”

  • Kirk Richardson

    Thanks I had a HDD get corrupted and had to replace it, but I needed to get personal files off of it (family pics etc) worked gangbusters, much thanks!

  • daniel

    I can see my file on the enclosure drive but can find mydocument where I have most of my files. How can I access mydocuments?
    Daniel

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