Recovery from Encrypted Files can be sometimes a hot potato.

EFS works by encrypting a file with a bulk symmetric key, also known as the File Encryption Key, or FEK. It uses a symmetric encryption algorithm because it takes a smaller amount of time to encrypt and decrypt large amounts of data than if an asymmetric key cipher is used. Encrypted File System makes it difficult for unauthorized personnel to access any files or directory under the file system as it requires a matching key (and most often with combination of passwords) to open, view, modify or rename the data objects.

There are many vendor-specific implementation of such encrypted file system. The most popular one is the infamous Microsoft’s Encrypting File System (EFS) implemented under the advanced security features. As it is made available readily under the NTFS file system and with such ease, any one could start using the EFS protection nearly immediately.

Usually, if the user’s keys are not backup, in case of system crash, all the data under the EFS implementation will no longer be accessible.

User may store the data with EFS security in different network or local drives. The user may then reconfigure the operating system without taking too much notice of the backup data in the other drives. Unfortunately, such act may damage the original keys thus causing all the previous backup data to be inaccessible.

Encrypting File System Operation

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