I done a factory restore on my laptop as I was giving it to my dad. I transfered all my personal files onto an external hard drive - at least I thought I had. Once the laptop was taken back to factory settings and renamed to my dad, we discovered I had actually only transferred the shortcut to my photos over to the external hard drive!!! I've tried the suggested post from djsmurf, got most of the way, could not find the original user account (my one). Does not exist at all. Have I lost the photos for good???
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