Recover Data from Encrypted (EFS) Hard Drive Partition in Windows 10/8/7

Tracy King updated on Jan 22, 2021 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles

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.

"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. Launch EaseUS hard drive recovery software.

Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your PC and select the drive on your hard disk where you lost or deleted files. Click "Scan" and let this program scan all lost data and files on the selected hard drive.

select a location and scan hard drive

Step 2. Check and preview all lost hard drive data.

Find lost hard drive data from "Deleted Files", "Lost Files" or use "Filter" to quickly navigate the lost data. Check and double-click to preview these found files.

Find and preview all lost hard drive data

Step 3. Restore lost hard drive data to a safe location.

Select wanted files that you lost on the drive and click "Recover" to save them. Choose a safe location on your PC or other external storage devices to save these restored hard drive data.

Restore lost hard drive data.

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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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files, so verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

About Data Recovery Wizard

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.