Recover Data from Encrypted (EFS) Hard Drive Partition in Windows

This article offers detailed guidance to help you recover data from encrypted (EFS) hard drive partitions in Windows 10/8/7 and Mac OS X. If you are having problems in restoring data from EFS partitions in your Windows hard drive, follow to find solutions here.

Table of Contents

Overview of Recovering Data from EFS Hard Drive

"I have a 160GB hard drive partition used as a photo album in my PC to store all fancy photos for my life. I have stored almost about 2 years' photos there and encrypted so to avoid data loss problem. I upgraded my computer from Windows 8 to Windows 10. And here is the problem that I lost the password for the EFS hard drive partition and I'm wondering whether I can still access my photos and restore them from the EFS encrypted hard drive partition? And I want to move those photos to my new external hard drive. So can you help me to get all my photos out from the EFS hard drive partition under Windows 10?"

If you are having a similar problem and cannot access data to EFS partition or hard drives in PC or Mac, don't bother. Here below, you'll find wanted solutions to restore data from encrypted hard drive partition now.

Trying to unlock a hard drive to resolve Windows installation problem? Go to the linked page.

1 - Decrypt EFS (encrypted) hard drive partition

Here are two ways to decrypt the HDD in Windows OS and one way to decrypt Mac OS.

Decrypt Windows hard drive - Option One

If you have a certificate for the encrypted (EFS) hard drive partition, you can access data in the hard drive with ease. Here below are detailed steps about how to decrypt EFS (encrypted) hard drive partition in Windows 10/8/7:

Step 1: Open Run dialogue (Windows + R keys), type certmgr.msc and hit Enter

open certificate manager to decrypt hard drive

Step 2: Open Certificate Manager > Click Personal folder in the left pane;

decrypt hard drive step1

Step 3: Select Action > All Tasks > Import and follow the Certificate Import Wizard

decrypt hard drive step2

  • Follow the onscreen guidance and decrypt the hard drive partition with the certificate, then you'll be able to get all your data stored in the hard drive partition and transfer to your new storage device. 

If you don't have any certificate or password for decrypting the EFS (encrypted) hard drive partition in Windows OS, you may follow the other method behind.

Decrypt Windows hard drive - Option Two

Enter: Diskpart in the search bar > list disk (you should be able to spot the encrypted hard drive by the size, take note of the number listed against it) > select disk x (where x is the number from the previous step) > clean > create partition primary > select partition 1 > active > format fs=ntfs quick /override > exit.

For example:

list disk
select disk 1
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=ntfs quick /override

Decrypt Mac hard drive

Open Terminal and paste: sudo chflags 0 /Volumes/* and hit Return > enter your admin password and press Return > type: sudo chmod a+rx /Volumes/* and hit Return > type: killall Finder and hit Return.

When all these steps are done, you'll be able to decrypt the hard drive on your Mac.
If you have forgotten the password, you can follow the next steps to erase and decrypt Mac hard drive:

1. Launch Terminal and enter: diskutil cs and high return.

2. The Terminal will produce a result comprising of codes in a hierarchy. In the code copy the alphanumeric code which is next to Logical Volume Group.

3. Type: diskutil cs delete XXXX____YYYY___ZZZZ___XYZ and hit Enter.

2 - Restore data from decrypted hard drive partition with data recovery software

After decrypting the HDD, you shall be able to open and use previously encrypted hard drive partition saved data by then. If you still cannot access those saved data, relax and let professional data recovery software help.

Professional EFS recovery alternative software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can help you access to all saved data in decrypted hard drive partition which was encrypted previously. It has both a Windows and Mac version. So, download the appropriate version according to your needs.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can access your data in the previously encrypted hard drive partition without any password or certificate in Windows OS. You can free download it and follow below steps to restore your data such as photos back to your new storage device or a safe spot on your PC. 

Step 1. Scan the hard drive partition

Select the drive on your hard disk where you lost or deleted files. Click "Scan" and let EaseUS data recovery software scan all lost data and files on the selected hard drive.

select a location and scan hard drive

Step 2. Check the results

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

Find and preview all lost hard drive data

Step 3. Restore lost hard drive data

Select wanted files that you lost on the drive and click "Recover" to save them.

Restore lost hard drive data.

You could also watch this video tutorial to see how to recover data from the hard drive.

After restoring data from the encrypted hard drive partition, you can reformat it into NTFS and make it reusable and readable again.

Do You Need Specialized Data Recovery Services?
You may need further help for tough data loss situations like reformatting drive, RAW disk, partition loss, repartition failures and system boot error. Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for cost-efficient one-on-one manual recovery service. They could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:
1. Unformat the drive
2. Repair the RAID, RAW disk or operating system
3. Recover lost partition (the one that cannot be recovered by software)

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Updated by Gemma

Gemma is member of EaseUS team and has been committed to creating valuable content in fields about file recovery, partition management, and data backup etc for many years. She loves to help users solve various types of computer related issues.

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Written by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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