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Windows 7/Windows 7 user accounts nightmare


QUESTION: I had to install a new hard drive after the original one started failing. I had a backup of all data on an external hard drive. My problems started when I installed Windows 7 on the new hard drive and couldn't remember exactly how the user account was named on the backup. Turns out it was Greg & Alison instead of Greg and Alison. So when I started to try to create my user accounts, my files wouldn't restore, no matter what I tried, to the accounts I set up. I had two accounts - a second just called Alison, and even though there was no naming conflict, it still wouldn't restore to that user... meaning, when I logged into the new "Alison" account, the data wasn't there.
When I look at C:\Users, there is a:
Greg & Alison
Greg & Alison.GregandAlison
Turns out, the ones with the GregandAlison extension are the files that link to the user accounts, and the others are where the data was. After multiple failures, I just resolved to copy the data to the .GregandAlison folders so that I would have usable user accounts. Then all I had to do was try to delete the extra user folders (there were no actual user accounts to delete).
Finally I figured out how to change the folder permissions so that it would let me delete these folders. That took all day.
But when I restart my computer, as I had to for other reasons, the Alison and Greg & Alison folders (the ones associated with the backed up data and that have been cleaned out except for some file in an AppData folder) magically reappear! Yea!
I am at a loss and have run out of ideas.
Furthermore, I tried restoring data so many times in the right way that I don't even think that if I had installed windows with the correct user name that it would have made any difference.
I suppose it's usable in its current state, but because I have two user accounts (one personal, one work), I sometimes log into the work account and want to access personal files. So I am always going into the C:\users folder. It's just annoying to have extra folders and have to remember which one is the correct one and which one is bogus.
Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance.

ANSWER: Hello Alison

I think the first and most important thing to look at is your actual backup data and just how it is you performed this backup. Most external USB drives these days come with their own backup software built in (which is crap and typically causes confusion just like you are now having).. it works fine if your system is working fine, but the moment you have a major disaster as you did, and had to reinstall everything, the software requires specifics, as you stated, knowledge of the user account, etc and quite possibly the existing software to already be installed on the computer in order for it to actually read (de-compress/view the image to extract the data). Since you have managed to get to the data, what I suggest you do is restore it to the account you are using and once you have done that, use buit in windows software to reformat and partition the external drive so that it no longer uses the backup software that is built in... knowing that in the future you are only going to be having these issues.

Personally speaking I use Paragon Hard Drive Manager for all of my backups as it does a very good job of image creation and this has been around for many years to it is unlikely that you will have troubles ever unpacking an image in the future.
Paragon has a free version here:

and you can then upgrade once you get familiar with it, or simply get the Hard Disk Manager Suite here:

There are other 'free' versions which you can try, check out at this website:

I do caution though, they are free and because of this you may find limitations in size/amount of data you can back up for free and may end up having to purchase the full/pro version in which case defeats the purpose of 'reliable' since these may also be out of business down the road.

Finally, out of everything I have just told you about the external drive and image backup creation, I would highly suggest using the 'offsite' backup method for any and all computers and recommend Backblaze as it has one price ($50) per year for unlimited data.. you install it and forget about it.. and the great thing with this is no matter what happens to your computer (fire, flood, theft), your data is recoverable.  In your case you would reinstall your operating system as you have done and then simply sign in to your account, download the software and perform a restore (full or partial by selecting).. considering the price of $50 per year (which I like to say works out to the price of 1 large Starbucks coffee per month--about $4 per month) knowing your data is safe... this is something you should go for.  Use my partner client code here:

You won't be sorry !

So in conclusion, having both the offsite backup as well as the paragon hard drive manager software installed which will allow you to create an entire 'image' of your working computer to that external hard drive you have.. that way, if you were to install a new hard drive to a failed computer, you could simply copy the disk image and your system will be back up and running, complete with all software programs and data just the way it was when you created the image... then you would restore any additional data files since that image was created by restoring from your offsite backup..

I hope this helps


Mike Dacre
follow me on twitter @tpsconsulting

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I realize the rambling nature of my question may have confused things. I am appreciative of the advice going forward for backups (and you're fast!), but the question remains about what to do about these extra folders and the fact that the data cannot be restored to an existing user account. The data restores to new folders every time. I made the backup using Windows back up instead of the external hard drive's built-in software.  (It is a WD, by the way.)
I am at a point where I can restore from a system image that would get me back to the complete windows installation plus drivers and essential hardware, and the only user account is Greg and Alison (which is, as I said, not matching the user name from the back up).  And then I can restore the data all over again... but I'm betting it all goes awry again and restores "Alison" and "Greg & Alison" data to new "Alison.GregandAlison" and "Greg & Alison.GregandAlison" folders again.
Am I missing something?

ANSWER: Hi Again

I guess what I was saying is yes, you should restore the data so that you have it all, then FORMAT AND PARTITION the WD USB drive and start using that as a storage of further backup images (using paragon for example).

You can also delete any and all folders you no longer need and if you find that these are locked, there is a very good utility program (free) from the following website :

This will unlock and delete if you so choose, the files and folders that won't delete through the normal procedure.  As to why the folders return the way they were before, it is as you already answered, because your account username is different and so it creates the new user account and places the folders accordingly. If you perform this a second time, after changing the account user name then it will give you the folder name with the period and other account name you used to use..

Therefore once you have created a new user account and restored your data accordingly, REFORMAT/PARTITION the external USB drive and then create a new backup image to it.. as well, I would be getting that offsite backup installed the moment you get your file structure fixed the way you want.


Mike Dacre
follow me on twitter @tpsconsulting

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello. I wanted to let you know how things are working out. I was never able to "restore" data to my user accounts, so after yet another system image restore, I just dragged the files into my account libraries and worked around it that way. I had been using a Windows Backup instead of the external hard drive's software, so I'm not sure why it was so testy. Now onward. It seems that getting fully up and running is never easy. So the Bluetooth module was having issues, which I at first assumed was software related. I made sure all drivers were current. I have a Bluetooth mouse that kept disconnecting every time the computer went to sleep, even though I made sure Bluetooth support services, etc., were "automatic" and that everything was as enabled as possible. Then the mouse wouldn't connect at all, and when I tried to add it as a device, the computer wouldn't find it. I tested things another route by trying to send a file from my phone via a Bluetooth connection and it still wouldn't work. So then I started to think it was a hardware failure.  Good thing I kept my old hard drive. I put it back in, and although it took a few tries, it actually got all connected again on the old drive. I had done this to see if it was software versus hardware. So now I was thinking software.  I checked the settings on the old hard drive and everything looked the same under the device manager as on the new drive. So then I switched the drives back again to the new one. I expected to be disconnected, but on a whim, I wiggled the mouse, and what do you know - the mouse was connected on the new drive!
Now you'd think I'd be happy, but I know something is going to go wrong the next time my computer goes to sleep, so I still need to figure things out. I know this is really strange but if you have any suggestions I would appreciate it. Just know that I've tried all the "solutions" I could find on google already and nothing worked... other than switching hard drives and then back again, which I simply can't do every time my Bluetooth module (Dell 365) decides to stop working! :)


The following link from microsoft support may be of some assistance to you:

You may also want to try another bluetooth mouse as it sounds like the amount of time and energy you are putting in to this may justify the cost of a new mouse :-)

You gotta love technology!


Mike Dacre
follow me on twitter @tpsconsulting

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Mike Dacre


As I have been volunteering in the 'windows' category since the inception of AllExperts, which has now moved to numerous windows categories. I will therefore be happy to answer any Windows 7,8 and 10 based question. What can't I answer? Not much, as this is the main reason I volunteered here, because I am hopeful the questions I can not answer will allow me to investigate the problem so that I can answer it. The TIPS and SOFTWARE support through my website at can also be of some help.


I have owned my own computer consulting business for the past 17 years and since the very beginning I have volunteered with AllExperts in the hopes I would be able to learn from others mistakes and problems. The goal for me is to be able to research any problem I don't initially have the answer to, in the hopes I will be able to further benefit for my own clients when they come across a similar problem.

More information can be found at my website


I grew up with computers, from the first Apple IIC, back when Bill Gates was a student himself! For the past 17 years I have been providing technical services from building computers to constructing complete control rooms. Working with CTV I have helped produce the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Later, designing and construction of "instant replay control rooms' for the Big Screens found in Stadiums and Coliseums.

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