So I managed to lock myself out of a folder on windows containing my steam library as well as some photos and videos. I did this by going to the security tab of the folder properties, and removing all access for the "user" group. My account was in both the administrator and the user group, but no matter what account I use or what groups they are in, I have no way to access these files or the security settings for them. When I set these security options, it started applying them to every file in the folder, as well as the folder itself. I realized my mistake and stopped it halfway through, but it had already made me unable to access the folder, even if some files within it are still available to me.

I have ubuntu 16.04 installed on another hard drive, but I only really used it to troubleshoot some cryptocurrency problems, and I didn't really learn ubuntu/linux in the process.

My idea is that I should theoretically be able to access these files from ubuntu and copy them into a new folder, I just need a bit of support on the following items:

  1. How do I make ubuntu be able to view/open/move files on an NTFS drive?

  2. Is mounting a drive in linux going to pose a risk of somehow corrupting the files in windows? if so, how can I avoid this

  3. How do I ensure the files don't bring their Windows security settings with them? Can I just make a copy of the folder and it'll act like a fresh one when I boot back into windows? Make a new folder and transfer everything over?

Thanks in advance for your help. If anyone has any ideas of how I could fix this from within windows, that would also appreciated

Some further details: Windows installation, Ubuntu installation, and the files in question are all on different drives (SSD, 500gb HDD, 3tb HDD respectively)

1 Answer 1


I have a similar setup to yours, so I tried replicating your problem and this is what I've learned. First, when I locked myself out of folders, I was always able to regain access through the Security tab, regardless of what I set. This is until I denied access to the drive, at which point I successfully locked myself out entirely. Since you can still access some files I realize something must be different, but this is as close as I could get. Let's move forward with what we have.

Linux and Windows use different permissions systems, so even when I completely locked myself out on Windows, Linux had full access. Unfortunately, it seems very complicated to modify Windows permissions, if it's even possible at all. But at least we can save your files. We can copy them all to a new location, format the drive or partition that you locked, then copy them back. Not the most elegant solution, an I understand that if it's a Steam drive that it might be quite a lot of data. Hopefully you have the room, a spare external drive, or can get one.

You said you're not Linux savvy, so I'll try to use baby steps here. Don't be offended if I explain something you think is obvious. So step one is boot into your Linux OS. Next we'll mount the Drive. Hit your super key, or just click the dash in the upper left, type Disks into the search area, and launch it. On the left you'll see all your drives listed. Select the one you locked. Now if it's partitioned, you'll see that represented in the center of the window. Click the partition you need, or just the block if it's a single partition,then the play button to mount it. It will say mounted at /media/{your username}/{drive name} or maybe /mnt/{bunch of letters and numbers in a hash}. Take note of that, it might be useful in a sec.

Now you should be able to open your file explorer (it's called nautilus, but will show up as just Files) and on the left hand side you should see + Other Locations. Click that, then your drive you just mounted. Copy your files to anywhere you have the room. Now I had full control when I tested this, but on the off chance your permission is denied, try this. Unfortunately, you'll need the Terminal for this step, but only if you don't already have permission (you should).

Load Terminal with Ctrl + Alt + T, or using the dash and typing in Terminal. First we'll make ourselves the owner with

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /path/to/device

and remember that path/to/device is whatever I had you mark down earlier. Feel free to copy and paste to get the formatting correct, then just correct the path. Next we'll make sure we have the right permissions.

sudo chmod -R 777 /path/to/device

This sets permission to anyone can do anything. Normally this is terrible advice, but since you don't really use linux for much, and you just want your data back, this should be fine. And hopefully, your experience is like mine and you just had full access without modifying anything.

Now hopefully you've gotten everything, or at least everything important saved somewhere else, like on your linux partition or an external drive. Open Disks again, and lets format that drive. Select the device and partition (assuming it's partitioned) just like last time. Now click the little gears, and Format Partition. Make sure you set the file system to NTFS (windows can't read ext4 without special software) and name it if need be. Once it's formated you can move your data back. I would boot back into windows and do a double check that it's all there and usable before deleting it from wherever you stored it, but that should get you sorted out quite nicely. And someone else may be able to solve your problem a bit more cleanly, but this should have you back on Steam and happy quickly and easily. Hope I helped.

  • Hey, thanks for the response. I was using ubuntu which comes with a utility to mount NTFS drives. I was able to just copy the files into a new folder and that removed the windows security settings. I booted into windows and was able to simply take ownership of the folder and everything within using windows. Then someone dropped a reply on a post about this issue that I made elsewhere and told me how to fix it entirely from within windows, and it worked... Whoops... I sat for 4 hours as it copied nearly a full TB and then the windows solution fixed it in 10 minutes... Jun 13, 2017 at 4:24
  • Not trying to draw a comparison between Linux and windows here, it was just simpler to fix a windows issue from within windows. The windows solution was just an advanced way to regain ownership of the folder and everything within, even though I couldn't view or edit the files. Once I had ownership I could change the security settings to give myself full control again. Jun 13, 2017 at 4:28
  • That's about how it goes, huh? Unfortunately, all of my studies have been going into linux lately, so I had no idea how to handle that on windows. Glad to hear it got sorted.
    – Eragon615
    Jun 13, 2017 at 6:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .