Dropped laptop can't decrypt HDD

Gigabyte / P35c-ds3r
February 11, 2010 at 04:48:22
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 3 GHz / 3582 MB

One of our users at work has a IBM T42 which i have encrypted using Safeguard. He dropped his laptop recently and the harddrive has started to make clicking sounds suggesting its about to die.

the problem is that i cannot boot from the disk anymore as its damaged, it gets to loading windows and then blue screens - too fast for me to see the error.

I was wondering if there was a way to slave the drive on another machine and decrypt it? There are 2 folders which he needs to retrieve but when i plug the drive as a slave it comes up as a RAW format obviously as its encrytped. i know the password used to encrypt but am unsure how to decrypt this. we have tried various things like knoppix and ubuntu but i cant seem to copy the files.

Any suggestions on how i can recover the two folders please? as mentioned i know the password/passkey used to encrypt as i was the one who set it... on startup of the laptop i do get the safeguard screen and i am able to enter the password for it to load windows but its at that stage that it blue screens.

Any help would be much appreciated.



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February 11, 2010 at 06:46:02
mmm a "fudge" that may help...

Remove drive; wrap in paper towel (enclose it completely); place in a plastic bag (typical sandwhich bag; remove as much air as you can and close bag. Place in FRIDGE in coolest part - NOT in the freezer. Leave there for about an hour...

Remove from fridge; unzip bag; remove drive from bag and leave to warm up a little - still in its paper towel wrapping...; let it sit for about 15mins or so and then remove paper towel.

Restore drive to it's laptop and see if it will boot thru OK...

This routine has been posted various places of the years; and it was posted here a while back by one of the veterans... (Cannot recall who but all credit to him/her...). I have used it twice to regain/recover full access to drives that were seriously clicking and failing to run properly. Managed to recover a totally damamged installation long enough to extract all data from it...

"...i know the password used to encrypt but am unsure how to decrypt this. we have tried various things like knoppix and ubuntu but i cant seem to copy the files...."

Not sure I understand why Knoppix/Ubuntu boot up wouldn't allow you to at least copy the files/folders to optical-media?

To slave the drive get yourself an EIDE (or SATA) adapter which allows you connect another drive (especially a laptop drive) to another system via USB. They are relatively inexpensive these days and work perfectly... Advise you get the one that does both EIDE and SATA - for future emergencies...

Again you may benefit from the putting drive in the fridge routine if you find that trying it first without going that route fails...?

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February 15, 2010 at 06:03:22
Hi Thank you for your advice and help, the reason why Knoppix and ubuntu does not allow me to copy the content is because the drive is encrypted and knoppix/ubuntu see it as a unformatted drive and therefore assumes the drive has no data on it as its recognised as a raw partition.

I am trying various other methods before i fridge the Hard Drive, i have read about this method before in fact, and it kinda nearly worked for me once but i dont think i was as thorough as you have explained, so this time im hoping it will work, i put the drive into the freezer with just a plastic bag around it, wasnt the best idea.

will give your method a go and see what happens, i have one last attempt left then will try this.

Thanks for your help.

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February 15, 2010 at 06:08:34
If the above method fails I have two ideas that may or may not work.

1) Try booting to Safe Mode.

or, failing that,

2) Try making an image of the bad drive using ghost, or something like it, and put that image on a different hard drive that is the same as the bad one, put it in the laptop and try booting to it.

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February 15, 2010 at 06:22:40
i have tried to image the drive but as it is damaged it gets to a certain point and then fails to continue with image creation. it was one of my first attempts i tried various tools but they all seem to crash as they fail to read the drive.... however thank you for the advice appriciate it..

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