This is probably the most silly way to copy files from an old XP harddrive to a Vista and possible Windows 7 as well.
The problem I was facing was that I had to help someone copy files from an old dead XP computer to his new Vista computer. He bought a external USB casing for the XP harddrive and attached it to the Vista computer.
So a simple copy from XP harddrive to the Vista computer seemed the obvious way forward. But no – apparently he didn’t have the rights to copy his own files. XP and Vista have some sort of protection schemes that made that harder than it should be. I’m a Linux/BSD user and not really into the inner workings of Windows, so I had to do at bit of googling and found it was a common issue. I tried many of the tips and tricks and applications, but at best they would only copy some of his files.
Being the Linux/BSD-guy that I am a started thinking, “how can I use Linux to do what Windows apparently can’t do?”
Here is what I did. I installed VirtualBox on his Vista computer. With VirtualBox I set up a virtual machine with Linux (Kubuntu in this case) and allowed it to access the old XP harddrive via USB and enabled a shared folder. Once Linux booted I mounted the XP harddrive and the shared folder. And from there it was just a simple copy from the XP harddrive to the shared folder (ie. his new Vista computer). And it worked!
I did have some issues. VirtualBox on Windows doesn’t always capture the USB-device. So plug it in and out a couple of times in different USB-port until you succeed.