View Full Version : Encrypted Files, Windows XP Pro

03-07-2005, 04:48 PM
So I had a locked and encrypted text file on my hard drive when I used Win XP Pro. Recently I had to reinstall Win XP Pro over itself, and now I can't access the file, even with admin power. Presumably, if I boot up the old Win XP Pro OS, I can access it, but the drivers always fail to load. So I have two options:

1. Somehow replace the failing drivers on the old XP Pro (which should have been done already in the reinstall but is just not happening).

2. Hack into the new XP Pro to take over the old administrator's alias, and then record the data that way.

I don't know how to do either (or think of a third solution). Please help. Thanks.

Dr Unne
03-07-2005, 04:53 PM
I had a problem after reinstalling Windows on my sister's computer where a non-encrypted, non-locked file wasn't accessible by anyone because Windows thought it had no owner. That could possibly be your problem, but who knows. There are ways to change the permissions on files in that case. It would be helpful to see what error message it gives you.

03-07-2005, 06:53 PM
Personally, I would try using <a href="http://www.knoppix.org/">Knoppix</a> to transfer the file to a usb key or some ftp directory then go on XP and get that file back.

03-07-2005, 07:03 PM
Using a different OS makes sense, Endless, but I'd rather not have to go through all the trouble if I can use Unne's method of resetting permissions. Only problem is, I know how to do it in UNIX, but I've tried using the Windows interface and no dice - I can't add owners or anything. Even if I did use the different OS, I still can't move or copy the file - it's write-protected except by the former admin. >_<

So if anyone can tell me how to override permission settings in XP, that would be #3. Else, I'll try the Knoppix.

03-07-2005, 07:23 PM
From my experience, Linux can't do anything with encrypted files on NTFS partitions, I always get access denied.

If the file's encrypted, the only people that can decrypt it is the one that originally encrypted it, and any additional people and recovery agents that were given access to it later on (I assume none in a typical home environment). This is because only those users have a key to decrypt the file encryption key associated with the file, to decrypt the file itself. Overriding permissions and/or taking ownership of the file will not allow others to get to the file, including admins. (Which is why there are recovery agents in business environments.)

The simplest solution I can think of is boot the copy of XP which can access the file, <b>in safe mode</b> so it loads with minimal drivers, log in as the user who encrypted the file, then in properties of the file in Explorer, remove the encryption. Then it should be accessible normally from the working installation from admin.

EDIT: Wait, you installed XP over itself? Into a different folder, on the same partition, or the exact same folder? If you've destroyed the user account that encrypted the file, I think you've lost the file for good.

03-07-2005, 08:43 PM
I suppose I can load Old XP, but even when I try and load in Safe Mode with minimal drivers it fails while loading atisgkap or something like that. Presumably if I get that to work, I can log on as the old admin identity (which still seems to exist, as I can transport application data settings from it to another identity and retrieve personal settings) and get the information that way. Problem is, I'm not really sure what to do about replacing the drivers, as it would make sense that New XP replaced all the drivers upon installation. But when I last tried loading Old XP in Safe, it still failed.

Dr Unne
03-07-2005, 08:58 PM
Search for the exact text of the error message you get on Google. There are sure to be hundreds of people who've had this problem before, and solved it if it's possible.

03-07-2005, 09:16 PM
Load old xp but instead of starting safe mode load in system recovery mode. That may work. I don't really know what to do off the top of my head but I am sure microsoft's website can be of help. Or try searching for system recovery console help in a search engine.