Re: Recover encrypted file?

From: Kerry Brown (kerry_at_kdbNOSPAMsys-tems.c*a*m)
Date: 11/26/05

Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 20:31:37 -0800

"Don Allen" <Don> wrote in message
> My wife was running Windows XP Pro on her laptop. She had a Microsoft Word
> document containing various passwords. I (foolishly, it turns out)
> suggested
> that she encrypt the file, which she did with the normal XP encryption
> mechanism. The laptop suffered a catastrophic hardware failure and is no
> longer in service. I have a backup tape of the whole system that was done
> with the XP backup accessory. I've restored that to another XP system and
> find that I cannot decrypt that file, even logged in as administrator
> (I've
> seen comments in help documents that suggest that the administrator is the
> default designated recovery agent; well, apparently not in this case). The
> help information for this is so confusing it, too, might as well be
> encrypted. I am a computer professional -- I wrote my first computer
> program
> as a college student in 1960! -- and have done a good deal of operating
> systems programming myself, so I'm not a novice. Can someone cut through
> all
> this crazy complexity and suggest how I might decrypt this file?

If you backed up the system state and the user's profile you should be able
to recover the key to access the encrypted files.

If you have a full backup including the system state then you can perform a
clean install of Windows then restore that backup, logon as the user and you
should have access. Note this will overwrite whatever you currently have on
the drive so make sure that is backed up first. When finished copying the
encrypted files to CD or floppy you would have to perform the same operation
again restoring this new backup.

If the backup does not include the system state but does include the user
profile with the key then there is 3rd party software that may be able to
recover the key and decrypt the files.

Note: I have not personally tried this software. Others have reported
varying degrees of success.