Encrypted File System (EFS)



I lost access to encrypted files after I formatted or recovered my computer, how do I get access to the encrypted data?

1.  Are you sure it is not an Ownership issue:
HOW TO: Take Ownership of a File or Folder in Windows XP

2.  If the files are encrypted.
If you did not back-up the encryption key or the Recovery Agent and are not on a domain, the files are as good as gone.
This must be accomplished while you have access to the files.
If you have not already done so, it is now too late.

3.  If you can restore the original profile (not recreate) and know the password, you may be able to recover the data.
Recreating profiles and passwords is irrelevant.
Contact Microsoft
Encrypted file system recovery

Also see:
Advanced EFS Data Recovery

4.  If all the above fail, time may be your only other ally.  EFS is very good and can not be broken today.  However you can put the drive away and wait.  It may be days, years or longer, but eventually the current EFS will be broken.  By then Windows will most likely use a far superior encryption technique.

5.  EFS is very good at what it does and there is no back door.
Read and understand these links before using EFS to keep from permanently losing your data:
Encrypting File System in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003
Best Practices for the Encrypting File System


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This site was last updated Monday, 17 September 2007