[SOLVED] Cloned laptop's hard drive - but can't see personal files

May 18, 2020
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Hi guys.

My laptop (Dell XPS 13) won't boot - stop code critical process died. I didn't get a chance to back up and it wouldn't let me enter even in safe mode to do that. It's basically in a loop. The only option it gives me is to restore it.

I took it to a repair center where they booted it to an external Windows 10, cloned the hard drive and backed it up to an external hard drive. They said it had no problems cloning.

Before I restore my laptop, I plugged in my external hard drive into a friend's laptop to make sure everything is in there. I could see OS files and folders such as Documents, Download, Music, etc but these were all empty. No personal files.

I think this is maybe a permission issue but what do I do next? Are all the files technically there but I just need to take ownership? Or does my laptop hard drive need to be cloned again with different instructions? I would appreciate any advice as I'm desperate to get these files back.

Thank you
Zahab
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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That's interesting. I can enter the folders under 'Service Plus' but they're just empty. I don't see any other folders that could have been my original account.

My hard drive was encrypted with BitLocker. I did give them the recovery key - but I'm not sure if they ever used it. Could this have lead to not having my original account cloned?
If at all possible, take the external thing AND your laptop back to that repair center, and have them show you in person that the files actually exist.

Don't do any 'reset' on the laptop until you visually verify your data exists on that external.
 

USAFRet

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"I plugged in my external hard drive into a friend's laptop "

This is a permissions issue.
Those Libraries are locked to the original user account it its OS.
Depending on how you do this 'restore', it may or may not result in a different User.
If the OS is fixed in place, then your user should be the same, and be able to access those Libraries.

This also speaks to always having an actual backup on some other physical storage device.
Instead of just the OS getting corrupted and needing a restore, what would you have done if the actual drive had failed?
 
May 18, 2020
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Hi, thanks. I do have a back up but I've been on the road living in a van for the last few months - it's the recent data that I need. Timing was pretty bad, I had bought the brand new external hard drive to do a back up before this happened.

Is there a way for me to access the data before I restore my laptop? I guess I'm being extra cautious.

I appreciate the help.

Thanks,
Zahab
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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When looking at this drive from your friends laptop, in the D:/Users/ folder...what do you see?
It should be folders for each of the original accounts, and one for Public.

(D = whatever drive letter your friends system gives that external drive)
 
May 18, 2020
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I see two folders: one is Public and the other is named Service Plus (the repair centre that cloned and backed up for me). Under Service Plus I see Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos but these are all empty.
 
May 18, 2020
6
0
10
0
That's interesting. I can enter the folders under 'Service Plus' but they're just empty. I don't see any other folders that could have been my original account.

My hard drive was encrypted with BitLocker. I did give them the recovery key - but I'm not sure if they ever used it. Could this have lead to not having my original account cloned?
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
137,064
6,910
166,190
21,054
That's interesting. I can enter the folders under 'Service Plus' but they're just empty. I don't see any other folders that could have been my original account.

My hard drive was encrypted with BitLocker. I did give them the recovery key - but I'm not sure if they ever used it. Could this have lead to not having my original account cloned?
If at all possible, take the external thing AND your laptop back to that repair center, and have them show you in person that the files actually exist.

Don't do any 'reset' on the laptop until you visually verify your data exists on that external.
 

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