How to Recover My Personal Encrypted Data

February 11, 2010 at 06:19:32
Specs: winXP, PIV/356Mb
I had a Virus Attack i decided to use AVAST to scan and do automatic repair. Unfortunately the anti-virus ended deleting the unrepairable files.
I restarted the Pc, but i could'nt login as the login fails as it t and comes back to the Welcome Screen for both the user accounts.
I have tried thrice to repair the but the problems continues.
The problem is how to retrieve my documents from the the user account that i made private.
Is there anyway or tools that will help me retrieve my files.
Your help is highly appreciated.

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February 11, 2010 at 07:33:31
Tell us the make and model of your brand name system, or if you have a generic desktop system, the make and model of the mboard.
The specific model of a brand name system is shown on a label on the outside of the case somewhere, or it can often be determined by going to the brand name's web site.
The model, sometimes the make, of a mboard in a generic desktop system is usually printed on the mboard's surface in obvious larger characters, often between the slots.

The model is often also displayed on a logo (graphical) screen early in the boot, but it's often not as specific as the specific model number.

For Dell computers, they have a Service Tag number - the specific model can be determined by using that on their site, or can often be determined there automatically by you downloading some software. The Service Tag number should be on a label on the outside of the case, probably on the bottom on a laptop, on the back on a desktop, and is often also shown in the bios Setup.

Do you have, or can you borrow, a regular Windows CD, or do you have an equivalent disk that may have come with your system?
E.g. some Dell, Compaq, and HP computers have one CD that came with the computer labelled " ....XP SPx Re-installation..." or similar - that's a slightly modified version of a regular XP CD.

If you do have one, or can borrow a regular XP CD of the same version, Home or Pro, whichever applies, your best bet is probably doing a Repair installation of Windows procedure, which will leave your existing personal settings and the data you have added to the partition Windows is on intact.

(If you have XP MCE, that would require a 2 CD set.)

Slipstreamed CD
If your XP CD does not have at least SP1 updates included, and you have hard drives larger than 128gb (in Windows; = 137gb manufacturer's size), you MUST burn a slipstreamed CD that has the contents of the original Windows CD with the SP3 updates integrated into it, and use THAT instead or the original CD.

If the XP CD has SP2 or SP3 updates built in, SP2 or SP3 is printed on the CD.
If the XP CD has SP1 updates built into it, on all the regular XP CDs I've seen, there is no SP1 printed on them.
Hoever, the volume label - the label you see for the CD in My Computer or Windows Explorer - for XP CDs with no SP updates are different from the ones for XP CDswith SP1 updates - you can search the web using the volume label to determine whether the CD has SP1 updates or not.

I prefer to call a Repair installation of Windows procedure a Repair Setup.
How to do an XP Repair Setup, step by step:

NOTE that if you decide to do the procedure, NOTHING can go wrong while doing it. If you fail to complete Setup, your existing Windows installation (on the partition Windows was installed on, only) will be trashed, and you will probably NOT see the second Repair choice in Setup when you boot with the XP CD again. If you want to know more about what you can do before you run the procedure to lessen the chance of the procedure failing to complete, ask me, I'll tell you.

An XP Repair Setup will (almost always) not harm your existing Windows installation, but it can only fix things Windows detects as wrong, and/or replace corrupted or missing Windows files that are on your original XP CD.

You will need a Windows CD of the same version as the one of your Windows installation, Home or Pro, and the Product Key, preferably the one that was used to install it, but it can be one for the same version as the one of your Windows installation.
In most cases you get the Product Key from the official Microsoft sticker on your computer case, or from the official Microsoft sticker that came with your Windows CD if it has not been stuck to the case.

If your Windows CD does not have SP1 or SP2 or SP3 updates included, and you updated Windows with SP2 or SP3 updates, you may have to install SP2 or SP3 updates again to get Windows working properly. SP1 or later is required for USB 2.0 and hard drives larger than 137gb (manufacturer's size; 128gb in Windows and most bioses).

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February 11, 2010 at 22:47:38
If you are asking, can you save the files before trying a repair or reinstall of windows....Yes.
Option 1: you can boot to a Linux CD directly without installing or overwriting anything. Linux can see and save windows files to another medium.
Option 2: If you are sure that the virus is gone, you can remove the hard drive and install on another running system as a second drive and copy the files there.
Then you can repair or reformat/reinstall nearly without ANY risk.

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February 11, 2010 at 23:07:32
The vast majority of malware these days is not a virus - it's something else.

You don't necessarily need to use a Linux CD, and if you did use one, you may not have enough available data space on your own computer or data storage devices you have to copy data to.

If you have access to another computer, you can remove your hard drive and connect it to a working computer internally or externally (e.g. if it's in an external drive enclosure) and copy the personal data off it you don't want to lose with the operating system on the computer to elsewhere - a hard drive, CDs , DVDs, flash drives, etc. You don't need to be concerned about data on the hard drive that is not on the partition Windows is on, or data you can easily re-install from disks you have, or data you can easily download from the web. Don't bother copying Windows files that are installed when you install Windows from scratch.

Even if the Repair installation fails to complete Setup, it is only the Windows installation that will be trashed - all of the personal data on the partition Windows is on is still there and can still be copied.

However, I still think you best bet for recovering the encypted files is running the Repair installation procedure - you may not be able to un-encrypt them if you merely copy them.


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