My Lenovo Thinkpad with Vista Home Premium 32bit had sudden hard drive failure and delivered black screen and funeral dirge. Being convinced that I had no better option, I reloaded all the software from progam recovery disks and then tried to restore the data from current backup DVDs. I got messages to the effect that data restore would not work because the user accounts in the backup did not match the user accounts on the recovered system.
I decided I needed professional help and took the laptop to a data recovery service. They said the hard drive had a fatal firmware problem and needed to be replaced. We agreed they would replace the hard drive, do a software reload, and restore my data from my DVDs. They did the first two and then said they could not restore data from my DVDs because the DVDs were in some non-specific fashion not prepared properly.
I got the laptop back and decided to try one more time to restore the data. I found (I think) that the "experts" may not have followed the procedure correctly. (One has to go back to the very first DVD--in my case--60 weeks ago--and restore them in order or click that one elects to skip some of the called-for disks.) So I did all that and at the end got a message saying the restore was "Successful."
The problem is I cannot see any data folders or files in Outlook, Word or Excel. I'm thinking the problem is user account identities not matching between restored system and backup disks. I am the only user of this machine and paid no attention to the user names. It may have been "Administrator" or some of the variants of my real name that I sometimes use as user names. At one point I had two accounts--one for me as Administrator and one for me as a standard user. I'm pretty sure I remember the password(s) I might possibly have used. I'm pretty sure I don't have user password disk--I've looked on the only two USB drives I have around here.
Can I get access to my data by creating a half dozen user accounts each with a different one of the user names I might possibly have used. Can I access a record of all previously-existing user names? If I do this, will I also have to match exactly all of the numerous specific permission options that I had before? Is there any other way to get at my data, which I'm pretty sure are actually on my laptop but inaccessible to me. (BTW, can I verify in some way that the data files are there even if I haven't yet figured out how to open them?)