XP not booting, how to access locked NTFS folders?

Hey folks. I think I might be screwed on this. My Windows XP Home install refuses to boot and I cannot get access to my 15 years of collected email folders, that are of course trapped in ...

"C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Appl-
ication Data\..." (etc)

I've tried ...

- Starting XP in Safe Mode, where (previously) it hangs on loading "C:\Windows\System32\Driv-
ers\PCI.SYS"

- Firing up the Recovery Console from my XP CD, ran "chkdsk c: /p" which did report errors, then "chkdsk c: /r" which supposedly fixes errors. Now it just hangs on a black screen before even getting to PCI.SYS.

- Installed XP on another partition. Tried to copy the <username> files but due to them being on NTFS it tells me "Access Denied"

- Googled it. Opened a command prompt and tried to modify the Access Control Lists with: "cacls <folder> /E /G <newuser>:F" - success, I thought - it gave me access to the <username> folder! So I went there, and tried the same on Application Data folder, but that one stubbornly refuses - "Access Denied". Even trying to view (rather than modify) with "cacls <folder>" does not work.

- Shaked my fist at the sky. That did nothing. ARGH!

My computer kung-fu is high, but I think this might be beyond my skills. :( Can anyone out there help? How can I get XP booting, or alternatively get NTFS to unlock the folders?

Fortunately the rest of "My Documents" are safe because I moved that folder out of there long ago. Never thought about email. Let this be a lesson for any other folks: get your important shit the hell away from "C:\Documents and Settings" (!!?!)

geek_mec-devil, Nov 10, 12:46 am

Try using NTFS-DOS and change attributes?

geek_innused, Nov 10, 12:59 am

....or,when I'm screwed like this,take out the hard drive and slave it to a bootable drive.-try using a file recovery program or whatever.

geek_innused, Nov 10, 1:03 am

have you tried a linux live cd, most of the latest versions all support ntfs partitions now, see if you can access your files that way, then hopefully move the files into another folder or onto a usb drive

geek_dude2099, Nov 10, 1:21 am

geek_dude2099, Nov 10, 1:35 am

Never heard of it, but I'll google and check it out. So the folders would still be locked even in DOS?

geek_mec-devil, Nov 10, 1:57 am

I'd try the linux route and copy to a FAT drive...

I've got a link to some software that bypasses all NTFS security, mainly to deal with a bug in NTFS, but I'll have to find the link first... But honestly a Linux Live boot CD should see you right, I *think* it will probably ignore the permissions allowing you to access the files.

geek_-mung-, Nov 10, 2:02 am

That looks promising! I hope it'll work from a different installation. Thanks.

As for Linux, I've never used it so I'd have to research. Someone else I know recommended "Knoppix"? I'll try the above first and then have a look tomorrow. (Ok, maybe my computer kung-fu is not all that :D )

geek_mec-devil, Nov 10, 2:13 am

just slave the drive and do that process and it'll all be yours........

geek_drcspy, Nov 10, 4:34 am

You could also try with something like erdcommander

I had a similar issue with a friends computer and was able to access the files using erd commander then I just backed these files and folders up to an external hard drive

I tried with other tools eg ubcd4win etc but the only one that would do it was erd commander.

geek_ferita, Nov 10, 9:56 am

Did you try replacing the pci.sys file from your Xp cd to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\pc-
i.sys while in the recovery console?

geek_ross1970, Nov 10, 10:19 am

Your drive is likely failing. Get the manufacturer's diagnostic tool. In the meantime, as stated, get a linux boot disk & grab all your important data before they're gone forever.

geek_lostdude, Nov 10, 1:59 pm

Yep, I'm going to replace it anyway. It makes more noise compared to my newer drive. Looking at pricespy.co.nz it seems 500GB is the new standard and cheapest per GB. If you want less you have to pay more. Crazy.

My thanks to everyone who answered!

geek_mec-devil, Nov 10, 7:02 pm