|"When you deleted the old account you would have been asked if you wanted to save the files - as long as you said 'yes' then they will be in a folder on the desktop of the account you used to do the deletion."|
That may be the case in Vista or Windows 7, but it's NOT the case in XP.
When you attempt to delete a user account in XP, you see a brief message along the lines of Are you sure ? ALL the user's files and settings will be deleted if you continue.
If you continue, ALL of the data for that user in C:\Documents and Settings\(that user)\(that user's subfolders and files), and the C:\Documents and Settings\(that user) folder, are deleted and they DO NOT appear in the Recycle Bin.
The data is still mostly there, intact, but the location of the files and folders and the first character of the file or folder have been "flagged" as being available for use by other data.
You have the best chance of recovering the most data if you STOP using Windows and connect the drive to another computer such that you're not booting from it, and use an un-delete program of some sort to recover whatever of the user's data that can be recovered from your drive.
If you continue to use Windows, as time goes by, the locations of the folders and files will eventually be over-written by the Windows Page (Swap) file or by other data and make them un-recoverable.
Next time when you have forgotten the password for a user (that's not likely by the way if you had to use it every time you used the computer, even if you have not used the computer for a while, unless you have serious memory problems)
- in most cases the built in Administrator user has no password, and you can boot into Safe mode and access it. When you use that user, you can "Take Ownership" of the folders and files of any user you can't access the folders and files of otherwise in normal mode.
How to take ownership of a file or folder in Windows XP
NOTE: you probably have to reboot the computer before the settings you change actually take effect !
Then you can copy the files and folders to any user's profile that has administrator rights, such as a new one.
- OR - here are freeware and cheap programs on the web that can "unlock" files and folders.
This was suggested by someone who answered a Topic on this site but I haven't used it.....
Works in various circumstances.
- OR - there are freeware and cheap programs on the web that can find the user password or delete it or change it, without losing that user's data.
- OR - there is at least one program built into Windows that most people are not aware of that can delete a password or change it if you have access to at least one user that has administrator rights, without losing that user's data.