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Unencrypting files from a different user account

Posted on 2003-11-05
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
Here are some details to help understand what is happening:

Dual partition, with Windows XP Pro and NTFS on both partitions

c:\windows - Origional XP installation directory (corrupt)
c:\winnt - New XP installation directory (working)

myname - User account that created the encrypted files
myname_new - User account currently trying to access the encrypted files
Both have administrative privledges

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Here is my problem...

I had to reinstall my XP operating system because I had a problem starting XP (c:\windows). In a panic, I reinstalled XP to a new directory (c:\winnt) without reformating the harddrive and created a new user account with administrative privledges (myname_new) leaving the origional XP installation (c:\windows) and user accounts intact.

What I wanted to do is reinstall XP in a new directory (c:\winnt) so I could access some misc files and to make a backup of the files I had from the origional XP installation (c:\windows).

I backed up most of my files that I created from the origional XP (Program files, Shared documents, etc), but I had some files which I encrypted using my old account (myname) that were encrypted using the WindowsXP encryption, but as you my know, only the user who encrypted the filed can unencrypt them.

Also, I cannot access my "c:\documents and settings\MYNAME." I get an access denied message.

Before you ask, I have no way to login to my old username (myname) from the corrupt installation (c:\windows) as I have tried everything.

Here is the message I get when trying to unencrypt the files that were encrypted with the "myname" account from the old installation (c:\windows) while I'm in the new installation using the "myname_new" account:

An error has occured applying attributes to the file:
C:\PathToMyFile
Access is denied

Is there a way to unencrypt the files from the origional XP or maybe is there a way to restore my origional XP so I can login and unencrypt the files?
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Question by:prettyboyfloyd
6 Comments
 
LVL 43

Expert Comment

by:JFrederick29
ID: 9690325
No there isn't a way.  Only the user who encrypted the files and the Recovery Agent are able to unencrypt the files.  You would need to login as the recovery agent (typically the administrator account on a local machine) or the user who encrypted the files.  If you were able to boot into your original XP installation, you could login and unencrypt the files so you could access them from the other installation.  Maybe someone else knows of a workaround or third party software but I don't think it is possible...

Sorry :(
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Expert Comment

by:Crash2100
ID: 9690681
you might be able to find cracking utilities that could possibly decrypt your files.

Advanced EFS Data Recovery
http://www.crackpassword.com/products/prs/otherms/efs/


http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=windows+xp+encryption+crack+ntfs&btnG=Google+Search
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Expert Comment

by:Mihailo
ID: 9690828
This thing work:
http://www.lostpassword.com/efs.htm

You'll need password or SAM file from "old" installation.
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Accepted Solution

by:
stevenlewis earned 125 total points
ID: 9691371
you could try a repair of the original installation
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;315341

If that fails then JFrederick29 is correct
even if you recreate the user, and use the same password the SID will be different, and the files will still be unaccessable
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Kenneniah
ID: 9695270
If your old user profile still exists there is a way to get your encyption certificate back, then import it. Look in C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Microsoft\SystemCertificates\My\Certificates from your old user profile. There should be a file named with a bunch of letters and nubmers. To make it importable however, requires a little hex editing. With a hex editor look for the first instance of 30 82 in hex. Delete everything before it, and save the file as whatever.cer
Then right click on the file, and if the hex edit worked correctly, it should bring up a certificate window that has a button to install the certificate. There's no guarantees this will work, but it's worth a shot.
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Expert Comment

by:Kenneniah
ID: 9695339
Actually ignore the hex edit part. Instead do a Start|Run certmgr.msc
Click on Personal, then Certificates.
Right click on certificates, and select import.
Then browse to the file mentioned before in Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Microsoft\SystemCertificates\My\Certificates.
You'll have to change the drop down list to All Files to see it.
Hit next, leave it at the default Certificate store of personal.
Hit next and finish.
With any luck your old encryption certificate will then be imported and you can open the encrypted file.
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