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Recovering files from password protected (damaged) XP Pro

About two weeks ago, one of my older machines, running XP Pro, went terribly bad. Instead of trying to fix it, I remove the some of the working hardware and trashed the system. Since I run backups, I figure that I did not need the hard drive so I put it away.
Of course, a few files were never backed up and now I need them.
I connected the hard drive as a slave and tried to access my user account (but I was not allowed). I tried connecting the h/d as a master but it shows that XP is damaged. I opted for a repair and got XP running far as the user login screen.
Problem is that every time I log in it tells me that there is an issue with my copy and needs to be activated.
XP does not let me connect but instead asks me to call MS activation, which I do. The number they give me shows as invalid and the last time I talked to them they only tell me that, "it has to work, reboot and it will work." It doesn't.
If I don't activate, the system logs me off once again.
Other than taking ownership of the files via Safe Mode, is there any other thing I can try?

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Connect the HD as a slave....

In reply to: Recovering files from password protected (damaged) XP Pro

....but do not try to access your account. Instead, try to access your files by going directly to the folder where they are kept.

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Connect the HD as a slave...

In reply to: Connect the HD as a slave....

That was the first thing I tried. Nothing under that user is allowed, instead I get the message that it is a protected folder.

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Take OWNERSHIP. Read...

In reply to: Connect the HD as a slave...

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Have you a machine

In reply to: Recovering files from password protected (damaged) XP Pro

With a 98 era OS? (just for this I have a P111-1ghz-Win98se box gathering dust)- I placed onto it the "NTFS98RO" (read-only) setup (search for it- follow the instructions-etc) and have used it multi times to retrieve files off XP-ntfs drives (Connected as slaves),just find them on the XP that won't boot, copy / paste to the 98se drive...

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