EFS Decryption Guide: How to Recover Encrypted Files on NTFS Drive Without Effort

Learn from this EFS decryption guide to recover encrypted files on a Windows NTFS hard drive, USB flash drive or SD card without a hassle. In case you deleted files from the EFS hard drive or formatted it, download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for encrypted data recovery.

Table of Contents

About Encrypting File System (EFS)

Encrypting File System (EFS) provides the core file encryption technology to protect critical and sensitive files on NTFS file system volumes with a certificate or key. Adopting EFS means that unauthorized users need to ask permissions when accessing files and folders. Otherwise, Microsoft Windows will deny access to the locked data. If you move the EFS encrypted hard drive to another computer, you can not access files on the device encrypted with EFS, either.

EFS is one of the multiple ways to encrypt individual files and folders in Windows. Here, we focus on discussing the possibilities of unlocking EFS encrypted files only. Visitors who are looking for solutions to decrypt BitLocker files or recover encrypted files by ransomware should go to the linked pages.

How to Open EFS Encrypted File

Usually, there are two groups of people requesting EFS decryption. One is with the password, while the other is without the password due to own mistake or key corruption.

1. Use the password

The EFS encrypted files have a lock displayed on the icon. To unlock these files, all you need to do is to log into your computer using the password.

2. Without Using the password

Forgetting the password is the case, or sometimes it's because the encryption keys are corrupt by a hard drive error. This time use the File Properties to decrypt EFS files.

Step 1. Press Windows + E to open file explorer. Right-click on the file and select Properties.

Step 2. Switch to the Security tab, and click Advanced.

Step 3. Clear the Encrypt Contents to Secure Data check box.

How to Recover Deleted EFS Encrypted Files

Due to some careless operation on the encrypted files by the owner, such as deletion, disk formatting, or virus infection, the encrypted files disappeared without expectation. If it's to recover the lost EFS encrypted files, you need to download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to recover encrypted files on a Windows NTFS hard drive, USB flash drive or SD card without a hassle.

The efficient and easy-to-use EFS Recovery Tool offers you a simple encrypted file recovery solution to recover encrypted files from NTFS drive and external hard drive. But the prediction is that the encryption password must be known or SAM database must be present (Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, Windows 7, 8). The user must have administrator privileges. The green "sample2.txt" is an encrypted file of NTFS drive.

Recover Encrypted file/folder on NTFS Drive

Step 1. Select the partition to scan

Launch EaseUS data recovery software, select the existing partition where stored the lost files and click "Scan".

find the existing partition

Step 2. Check the scanning results

When the scan completes, you can apply the "Filter" feature or the "Search files or folders" button to find the lost files on the existing drive.

scan the existing partition

Step 3. Recover wanted data

Select all desired data and click "Recover" to restore files from existing partitions. Do not save the files to the partition where you lost the data.

Save found partition data


  • It does not work with FAT partitions. All recovered encrypted files must be copied to NTFS partition.
  • It must work on the present Windows system.
  • The recovered files are still encrypted.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is one of the senior editors of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. He mainly writes articles about data recovery tutorials on PC and Mac and how-to tips for partition management. He always keeps an eye on new releases and likes various electronic products.

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Written by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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