Are you trying to open some files on your computer that are encrypted? Windows will normally indicate encrypted file or folder names with the color green instead of the normal black text.
Note: If you’re reading this post and looking for information on how to decrypt files encrypted by CryptoLocker, it won’t help. They have to pay the ransom and hope that they will send you the encryption keys.
When encrypting files and folders, Windows uses a self-created certificate that contains keys to encrypt and decrypt the data. When opening encrypted data when logging on to the user account that generated the certificate, the decryption process is transparent and the files are opened normally.
However, if another user or system tries to access the same data files, or if the files are moved to a different location, they cannot be opened unless the original certificate is installed.
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In either case, you need to remember to encrypt and decrypt files in Windows as you will always need the encryption certificates / keys. When you encrypt a file or folder in Windows, encryption keys are automatically generated and assigned to your user account.
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In Windows 7 and higher, you will be asked to back up your encryption key (EFS certificate).
You should do this right away. If you do not have these encryption keys, you will not be able to decrypt the data. Unfortunately there is no way because the encryption is very strong and not easy to break.
If you can still access the computer on which the data was originally encrypted, you can try exporting the certificate and then importing it on another computer.
Back up EFS certificates
There are several ways to secure file encryption certificates. I will mention them below. The first option is to click Start and enter the certificate .
Click Manage User Certificates to open the certificates for the current user. In Windows 7, you can also type certmgr.msc and press Enter to open the Certificate Manager .
Now expand Personal and then click on Certificates . You should see all of the certificates listed in the right pane. There might only be one, but if not, the only certificates you are interested in are the ones that have the encrypting filesystem listed under Purpose .
Right-click the certificate, select All Tasks, and then click Export .
This will open the Certificate Export Wizard . This is the same place you get when you click Back up now (Recommended) when prompted by Windows.
On the next screen, you should select Yes , export the private key along with the certificate . If you don’t have a private key, you won’t be able to decrypt any of the encrypted files.
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On the next screen, you need to choose the format you want to use to export the certificate. The personal information exchange should already be selected and you can only leave it with the first checkbox.
Since this certificate contains a private key, you must protect it with a password. Highlight the Password field and enter a secure password.
Finally, click Browse and choose a location where you want to save the file. It is highly recommended that you do not save the file on your computer itself. If something happens to the pc, you will lose the key with it.
Also, give your file a name that will be helpful to you but not obvious to others. For example, don’t call it EFS keys like I did below!
Click Next and then click Finish . Your private encryption key is now saved as a file. You can now import and import this file on another Windows computer. Importing is really easy. All you have to do is double-click the file to open the Certificate Import Wizard .
Once you’ve imported the certificate, you can decrypt any files that were encrypted with that certificate. As mentioned earlier, if you’re trying to open encrypted files and you no longer have or can’t find the certificate, those files are basically gone.
Some programs claim they can decrypt your files at a high price, but they never worked for me and that’s why I haven’t listed them here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Enjoy!