Windows Encryption Problem

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firesign

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Joined
Jul 14, 2005
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I'm using Windows XP. I have to Hard disks in my machine C: and D: the OS was installed to C: with personal files installed on D:

I decide to try out the windows encryption on some of my personal files on drive D: all was going well until I reinstalled Windows without thinking to unencrypt the files on the D: drive. Hence I can't open them any longer as I don't have the encryption Key.

Have I lost these access to these files for good now? Or is there a way I can to them?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks
 
Joined
May 27, 2004
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18
Firesign,
Given the scenario you described I am sorry to say that unless you have a drive image of the original Windows installation or unencrypted backups of the files themselves the files are unrecoverable (unless you have access to advanced top secret governmental resources and a load of money). :(

EFS is not particularly easy to use for the average computer user which is why it is not an option on Windows Home Edition. If you go here and scroll down to the section under "How Secure Is It?" and "How to Make EFS More Secure" you can see the EFS security is not failsafe. However it sounds like your original Windows installation has been completely wiped which makes all recovery possibilities outlined in the article moot because any and all keys were in that particular windows installation. Worse still, you reinstalled Windows "on top" after you wiped it which makes partition recovery very unlikely (realistically impossible).

Generally speaking most experts discourage use of EFS unless you are an expert yourself. Maybe someone on this board will have something more to add.

Good Luck.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2003
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20,583
For future reference, if you only encrypt the file folder, any file you move into the folder will be automatically encrypted. If you followed this method instead of applying encryption to each file, you could try to drag and drop the file to your desktop, for example, and then try to open it there.

Even though I doubt it will help, just for the heck of it, why not try drag and drop of one of the files to your desktop, and right-click Properties, and on the General tab, click the Advanced button. Uncheck the box Encrypt contents to secure data, to attempt to unset the encrytion. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

-- Tom
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2005
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431
Encryption is provided by the Encrypting File System (EFS) which comes with and is installed automatically on Windows 2000 systems. The user who encrypted the file or a local or domain administrator can decrypt encrypted files. The administrator account is called a recovery agent because it has a global key which can decrypt any files.

I would think this would work the same way on XP...
 

firesign

Thread Starter
Joined
Jul 14, 2005
Messages
2
Thanks for you help with this guys, I didn't think I'd be able to recover the files, I'd previously tried these sugestions and was going for the last resort.

I wouldn't normally use the EFS just testing some of the options and complete forgot I'd done so, until after reinstalling XP!!

Yes you're right about the recovery agent and this is the same for XP, but my machine is not on a domain and so the account no longer exists to access the files.

Not to worry a quick post was my last resort. Than you for you help. It's appreciated.
 
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