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How to Recover Data from Encrypted Hard Drive

Encryption tools enable you to password-protect your essential data. Bitlocker is one such encryption tool built-in your Windows OS. You can restrict access to your sensitive data using various encryption methods. It is essential to keep your valuable information safe using advanced drive encryption tools. However, you may lose your data due to computer crashes, corruption, virus attack, etc. If your corrupted or crashed hard drive is encrypted, data recovery can become challenging in such a situation.

In the post below, we will learn how to recover lost data from an encrypted hard drive.

Let’s first consider a few scenarios where you might need to recover your data from an encrypted hard drive:

1) Forgotten password: Forgetting passwords is quite common. It is best practice to create a unique password for every application. But remembering all of them can be very difficult. You may also forget the hard drive encryption password and make your data inaccessible.

2) Software crashes: As mentioned earlier, it is difficult to recover data from a crashed OS if the drive is encrypted. Your computer may fail to boot or work properly, preventing you from recovering your encrypted data.

3) Virus attacks: Virus attacks can disrupt the functioning of your computer and further lock your encrypted data.

Now that we have explored the possible scenarios, let’s look at how to perform data recovery.

Data recovery in encrypted devices can occur in two ways. You can decrypt the hard drive and gain access to your data. It is helpful in lost-password scenarios.

If you lose data due to software crashes, file corruption, virus attacks, etc., or if your PC becomes inaccessible, use data recovery software to recover your data (after you have decrypted it).

Let’s explore some methods to decrypt the hard drive and learn how to use data recovery software to recover encrypted data.

1. Decrypting the hard drive using Control Panel

You can decrypt your hard drive, even when you do not have a key, using the Control Panel.

Decryption via the Control Panel option is easy and works for Bitlocker encryption. The detailed steps are listed below.

  1. Open Log in as an administrator.
  2. Next, open Control Panel and go to System and Security.
  3. Here, select Bitlocker drive encryption.
  4. A list of encrypted drives will appear. Select the required drive and click Decrypt Drive.
  5. Windows will then decrypt your hard drive and give you access to your data.

Image 1: Bitlocker drive decryption


Image 2: Turning off Bitlocker Encryption


2. Decrypting and recovering your data using the Certificate Manager

It is another simple decryption method. To use that, follow the steps below.

  1. Go to Search tab and enter certmgr.msc
  2. Run it as an administrator.
  3. On the left panel of the next screen, you will see different categories of certificates.
  4. Select Personal.
  5. Right-click on it and go to All tasks > Import.
  6. A new window of Certificate Import Wizard will now open.
  7. Follow the displayed instructions, and you will be able to decrypt your hard drive.

Image 3: Using the certmgr tool


3. Recover your data with data recovery software

Another method is to take the help of professional data recovery software to recover your data. There are two things to consider here.

i. If you can access your PC, then first decrypt the drive using the methods suggested above. Then run a data recovery software (such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Windows) to recover your data. This method works in scenarios where the encrypted data is deleted due to any reason. Data recovery software will scan your PC to look for deleted/lost data and recover it. To better understand its application, consider a scenario. Your PC crashes, and all your data gets lost (including the encrypted data). A data recovery software can run through your system and restore all your lost/deleted data.


Image 4: A data recovery software interface


ii. If you cannot access your PC (crashed or unbootable PC), you can also recover your encrypted data by creating a recovery drive. You can then decrypt the data and perform data recovery.


Encryption is a great tool to secure your sensitive data. However, it becomes a hindrance when you are trying to recover that data, lost due to any reason. This blog touches on the subject and describes the three best ways to access and recover your encrypted data. Out of the three methods, data recovery software is your best bet against any loss scenario. It ensures that you retain access to your data, even when it’s lost, deleted, or encrypted.



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