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Hidden files from an old computer


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15 replies to this topic

#1 cdpage

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 04:59 PM

Before I really understood what the value of hidden files was, I thought it would be a good idea to 'hide' some of my documents, etc that I thought could be considered as sensitive information. I quickly discovered that this does nothing for protecting these files from someone using my computer, but I never changed it back to 'unhidden'. 

 

Here's the tricky part. That desktop computer crashed about a year ago. Fortunately, I was able to get all of My Documents off of it before I got rid of it. I saved it all on an external HD and thought nothing of it. I got a laptop with Windows 7 and have been really happy with it. Now, a year later, I decided to review some of those old files only to discover that they can't be opened because they were 'hidden files' on the old desktop and therefore encrypted. I no longer have that computer, so how do I access these files????



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#2 noknojon

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 05:53 PM

Hello cdpage and Welcome -

How to see hidden files in Windows This covers Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
How to show hidden files in Windows 7 More specific to Windows 7
Please note that all programs are not compatible between XP and Windows 7 systems -

 

If you can be more "specific" on any files, we may be able to help in other ways also -

 

Thank You -



#3 Nanobyte

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:19 PM

If the files are actually encrypted (your description) before being hidden, you are probably out of luck if you don't have the relevant software and passwords.  If they are simply hidden by the file attribute then what Noknojon says.



#4 cdpage

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:53 PM

Try it. If you take a file and make it hidden on your computer, and then move that file to some other computer and try to open it on that computer it will not open, even if THAT computer is set to show all hidden files. 

 

It's not that I can't see the files. When I click on the file, the corresponding program (Word for example) will boot up, but then a pop up window will appear saying: "Microsoft Word can't open this file because you don't have the correct permissions to access the file location." 

 

I have changed the ownership of the file to be this new computer, and I have made sure that all of the permissions are set to "allow." It still doesn't work. 


Edited by cdpage, 14 February 2013 - 06:53 PM.


#5 Nanobyte

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:22 PM

I tried hiding a file with the "h" attribute, moved it across the network to another PC and it opens fine from that PC.  That was XP to XP however.  You presumably went from "not Windows7" to Windows7.

 

Why didn't you google the problem "changing file permissions in windows 7"?  There are tons of posts eg WikiHow - this one for folders.



#6 cdpage

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:47 PM

Ok, so I tried it myself as well, with a new folder. I went into my documents and hid an entire folder and all of its subfolders/files and then put it on a flash drive and jumped it over to my wife's computer which also runs Windows 7. I was able to open it there.

 

So it would appear that my initial theory as to what the problem was was incorrect. The symptom still stands though...I cannot open these files. If it is the fact that they originated as hidden files on a desktop that was running XP, I can test that next week at work (we have a computer in lab that still runs on XP and I can see if they will open on that system). If that doesn't work, then I am stumped. 

 

Here is one new clue, I thought it was erroneous but maybe it isnt. The folder in question here does not appear slightly faded, as does every other folder that is hidden. Additionally, the title of the folder: "backups"   has a slight green color to it. Any ideas what that means? The question might arise: "are you sure it was hidden when it was on the older computer?" ...and I'm about 95% sure it was. It was a long time ago but I am still pretty sure it was. 



#7 cdpage

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:55 PM

Right after I finished typing my last response, I googled the green folder name thing and discovered that other people have had the same problem when they upgrade from XP. Green means they are encrypted. And apparently Windows has some pretty legitimate encryption software. :( Anyone know of a fairly inexpensive decryption program? 



#8 Nanobyte

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 10:23 PM

The normal meaning of hidden is that you change the attribute of the file to "h".  It disappears from Explorer if you have "Hide hidden and system files" checked.  It is in no way encrypted. You can change it back by going to the file's properties and unchecking the Hidden attribute.

 

As you said, the green font implies that it is encrypted, which you can only decrypt if you are logged into the same account.  Encrypted and hidden are two different things.

 

You could try downloading the free trial version of "Advanced EFS Data Recovery".  I don't know if it actually allows the recovery or whether it tells you it could if you pay for it.

 

Edit:  Apparently when you encrypt, you are prompted to save the key and it's also advisable to back that up and the encryption certificate.  Maybe you did and it's on your drive?  I don't encrypt anything for the very reasons of this thread.


Edited by Nanobyte, 14 February 2013 - 10:31 PM.


#9 wantei

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 09:11 AM

I personally use "Recover My Files v4" it works quite well for me.


 


Edited by wantei, 19 February 2013 - 09:11 AM.


#10 hamluis

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:06 AM

As previously stated...per http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308993 :

 

"Only the user who encrypts a file can recover data that has been encrypted, unless the user specifies a recovery agent before they encrypted the files. To make sure that you can decrypt files in the future, you should always export your certificate and private key and keep them in a safe location."

 

Typical data-recovery solutions will not be effective.

 

Louis



#11 cmptrgy

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:35 AM

I am confused about the true nature of the hidden and/or encrypted relationship of the files in question

--- Were your hidden files were encrypted on your XP computer,

----if they were encrypted you would have received an encrytion key and should have been able to save that key or at least write it down

Now it appears they are encrypted using your WIN7 computer

--- Are you being asked for the encryption key?

--- Check out http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=win+7+encrypted&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS492US495&q=win+7+encrypted+folder&gs_l=hp..0.0l4.0.0.0.12516...........0.&pbx=1

 

The reference to green colored icons appears to indicate they are encrypted

--- So how were they encrypted?

 

However, I'm going to imagine that encryption might not be the problem without actual proof so I googled "Microsoft Word can't open this file because you don't have the correct permissions to access the file location" and it gave me the following ideas from various searches none of which I saw encrypted files being mentioned

--- Can you use the external hard drive that is now connected to your WIN7 computer other than trying to access the files you wish to access?

--- Is it possible that your external hard drive has a different path on your WIN 7 than it had when using the XP: for example it’s probably drive “D” on the WIN7 & but was recognized as a different drive on the XP in which case the files you are trying to access have a different path in which case you will need to correct the path access .

--- Then fix the drive/path I suppose either on the external hard drive and/or on the file location path

--- You have fixed the ownership on the new computer but that still doesn’t deal with a different drive/path location

 

A thought just came to my mind

--- Can you drag one of those files from the external hard drive to your WIN7 Documents folder and see whether or not it will open from there?



#12 cmptrgy

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:51 PM

Do you know whether or not you actual have an encryption problem

or can we focus on

Microsoft Word can't open this file because you don't have the correct permissions to access the file location



#13 kbit

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 08:26 PM

your chances of file recovery are nil to slim , with nil the favorite. EFS on XP without a key would be near impossible to decrypt a file. One should always export the key to a safe location for just this problem. You were a little too zealous when you first hid these files and undoubtedly went into the advanced section and clicked the box for encryption { unless you used a 3rd party software which you never mentioned} I don't know about win7 but in XP you should go to folder options/view and make sure the box for showing encrypted and compressed folder/file names show in colour ie: green is encrypted and blue is compressed. I cannot see a solution for your problem without the key but maybe someone else can.  



#14 hamluis

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:11 AM

Note:  OP has not responded to this topic since 14 Feb.

 

Louis



#15 cmptrgy

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:38 AM

kbit, your summary is well taken. I always wondered why some of my files are in blue and I finally accept that encrypted files are in green. I have XP and I looked up my folder options and my files/folders are set to show in color as you stated

 

Everyone else's inputs are also very important. Since we can't see the computer the ideas that were presented were well worth checking out






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