RE: Accessing former XP drive as second drive under Windows 7

Removed primary drive from XP machine and hooked it up via usb adapter to a machine running Windows 7. Isn't there a way to read this drive without changing stuff, like ownership?

This suggests not: http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/vistasecurity/thread/0ec97143-db51-450e-bef9-88ce29e100db

but I'm not satisfied. I'm trying to recover files from a failing drive. The last thing I want to do on a failing drive is start writing stuff to it. I need a copy only operation.

Perhaps there is a way to create a user and match the admin sid on the target drive.

  • Why don't you boot Linux? You lose the perms when copying but this is what you want. – maaartinus Mar 21 '11 at 12:25

Windows Vista and 7 has a complete different security model then XP. Furthermore, when installing Vista/7 the OS is not aware of previous users that was on the old harddrive, and therefore it will treat the old harddrive as alien.

  • Are you suggesting that if I attach this drive to an XP machine, I'll be able to copy stuff? How is the file system security model different now? – Hafthor Aug 8 '09 at 9:02
  • Correct. The Vista security model upgrades NTFS directly, and the security discreptors are different. The best way to understand the differences is to read up on NTFS directly and how it work. I actually has little to do with the OS, more with the actual NTFS format directly. – BinaryMisfit Aug 8 '09 at 12:36

I would backup the files off the drive, and reformat as FAT32, then restore the files back.

You can't convert NTFS to FAT32. PartitionMagic or similar might be able to do it, but I don't know about those - YMMV.

Edit: I would then hook up the drive to an OS that doesn't support or play nice with NTFS partitions. I know that Mac OS X doesn't play nice - I can see all manner of files you can't normally see, and then copy them off. I'm sure it's also possible to recreate this under linux. You might be able to get yourself a Live CD (or a partition, or VM) and then mount the drive with your USB caddy, and finally copy the files you're chasing off!

No guarantees this will work however.

  • +1 FAT32 does not use the same security model then NTFS. – BinaryMisfit Aug 8 '09 at 7:17
  • Note: you can't copy very large files back to the FAT32 formatted drive. – Ivo Flipse Aug 8 '09 at 8:17
  • Backup the files using what? I can't read the files. That is the problem. – Hafthor Aug 8 '09 at 8:39
  • Aaah, your edit came in after my answer. See edit. – EvilChookie Aug 8 '09 at 18:04
  • OSX can read from an NTFS permission, just not write to it. – MDMarra Aug 8 '09 at 19:00

If you have plenty of disk space available, you could try taking a disk image/snapshot using something like ghost/true image

If the drive is failing, that obviously complicates things, but most imaging tools have options to ignore errors and copy what it can. However this make it harder to determine what parts have been copied correctly.

Once you have the image, you could try restoring this to a real drive or partition or to a new drive in a Virtual Machine (eg Virtual XP) and then use the take ownership of the files.


You can safely "chown" the drive as long as you change owner to one of the built in accounts/groups. The built in groups have the same security identifier both in XP, Vista and Windows 7. However if you "chown" to a user you have created XP will not be able to read anything off the drive until you restore the permissions.

Change owner to the Administrators group and the drive will work perfectly in both XP and Windows 7.

  • Is there not a way to copy these files in a read-only manner? – Hafthor Aug 8 '09 at 8:39
  • Not that I know of from Windows since it won't let you access the file without proper security identifiers. Maybe you can go around this using a Linux LiveCD with ntfs support, don't know if they care about the security. – Paxxi Aug 8 '09 at 8:51

Your best bet is to try to recover the drive under a Linux live distribution, like Ubuntu. It won't have any qualms about ignoring security permissions on the XP drive.

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