A BIOS flash rendered my encrypted drive useless.  How do I get my data?

Posted on 2008-11-03
Last Modified: 2010-05-18
I have a HP dc5700S desktop machine with WinXPPsp2 running GuardianEdge Encryption Anywhere on bootup.  I did a BIOS flash from within Windows (the HPQFlash thing).  I'm certain that the version and method was correct, except after the reboot my drive wouldn't boot.  I tried many other flashes from a bootable usb stick (there's actually 2 things to flash: a microcode and the BIOS so I tried many versions of each).  All flashes seem successful, and BIOS is available, yet no boot.  Just a black screen after a few HDD flashes.

I moved the drive into another similar machine and (while booted into this machine's working C drive) I see that my encrypted drive from the dc5700s is unreadable and asks me to format it.  I deduce that my original BIOS flash within Windows has overwritten my MBR or something which makes my encrypted drive unreadable.  I have no reason at all to believe that my hardware is actually faulty.  Note also that I can see the HP recovery partition from the drive, so only the C drive is unreadable.

So the obvious question, assuming my deduction is correct, is how do I get back at my data on the encrypted drive.  We install Encryption Anywhere via group policy so there's no CD or anything in my office and some quick googling hasn't given me anything.  Can anyone help me?  I'm going home and will check your suggestions in 12 hours when I return.  Thanks in advance.
Question by:theras2000
    LVL 27

    Expert Comment

    you should contact support for that:
    LVL 26

    Expert Comment

    By temporarily installing another hard drive (or booting from a USB drive), are you able to re-flash the BIOS back to the version previously installed on the machine, and then re-install your encrypted drive and boot from it?  I have, honestly, NO idea if this will work (in fact, some BIOS updaters will not let you "update" to an older BIOS than the currently-installed one)....but it might be worth a try.

    LVL 14

    Author Comment

    Thank you but nah that won't do it.  It's not the version of BIOS that's my problem, it's the fact that my first flash would have used part of the boot partition to store it's info (and therefore wrote over some of the encryption stuff).  Besides I already tried all versions of the BIOS and microcode available, before I'd realised that this was what had happened.
    LVL 26

    Assisted Solution

    Ah, got it.  I didn't realize that those BIOS update programs destructively used part of the boot record.  I don't suppose you have a backup of the drive that contains the boot record, complete with encryption stuff, as it appeared prior to the mangling?  I understand that such a backup would not have the DATA you want, but if you could transfer the boot record from the backup drive to your existing, munged drive, that might do it.  You could copy the MBR from the backup  disk onto this one using MBRWizard:

    LVL 27

    Expert Comment

    As said, contact support of the software.

    At least they can give you help with the 1st steps with THEIR software to recover YOUR data.
    LVL 14

    Accepted Solution

    akahan, thanks for your suggestions.  If I'd had a backup of the MBR, that probably would have worked.
    I ended up finding some documentation that my company had cerated years ago with some steps to try for these situations.  There was a Recoevry CD I burnt and it managed to decrypt the whole drive for me this morning.
    If anyone looks up this post in years to come, here's the steps:  1st try the Access Utility CD to boot and see the drive.  Then try booting the Emergency Recovery CD and run the command recover /a.  If the drive is still unreadable, boot the Emergency Recovery Cd and try recover /d.  There is probably some proper guides from GuardianEdge about this, but you need support contracts and logins to access it.

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