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After Upgrade PGP won't let me access external HD

Created: 11 Jan 2012 • Updated: 13 Jan 2012 | 5 comments
This issue has been solved. See solution.

I got mad at Windows and decided to do a reinstallation of Win 7 64-bit Ultimate.  I put my files on an external hard drive that had been excrypted with PGP whole disk encryption version 10 or 10.1 or something like that (can't remember which).  So anyways, when I reinstalled Windows I decided to upgrade my WDE to version 10.2 MP3.  Am in the process of encrypting my HD right now.  But when I hook up my external HD and the password window pops up, I am not able to access that external HD.  I type my password in, but then it says that the 'passphrase does not match.  Please try again.'  But that is a lie.  I am typing in the correct password!

What's the deal?

Do I need to wait till I fully encrypt my desktop's HD before I can access the external HD, or do I need to use the recovery disk to decrypt the external HD that has the lower version number of WDE?

please help.  lives may depend upon it!!

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Heywood's picture

I have finished encrypting my desktop HD and tried to get access to the external HD.  no joy.

However, I think i might have found what the problem is.  When I reinstalled Windows and PGP I made a new key.  The external HD was made with a key associated to the previously used HD.

So I am thinking that I need to get the key off the old HD and somehow transfer it onto the new HD.

Any idea how to do that and how to add that old key to my new PGP installation?

Tom Mc's picture

If the external disk is encrypted to a public key, you are correct that you must have the corresponding private key to decrypt it or any of its data.  However, the encrypted external disk is not where the key would have been stored, and even if it was you would not be able to access it there because it would be encrypted.  You probably accepted the default keyring location of being on the C: drive that you have now upgraded to the new operating system.  If this is the case, you will not be able to decrypt the external disk unless you made a backup of your private key - which is why the PGP software encourages you to make a backup when you generate your key.  If you do have a backup, you can double click on it and import it to your current keyring.  If you have a backup of your prior private keyring, you can double click on it to import the keys it contains.

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Heywood's picture

I still have the old hard drive so I can access the key ring.  So how do I transfer the old key to the new hard drive?

i found that folder on the old drive and put the stuff on a USB stick.  I got files called pubring,pkr and some called and secring-bak.skr

So I guess will I plug in my new HD and then, what, double click on those files?  Will that work?

i am a complete n00b with PGP.

I will try this and see what happens.

Tom Mc's picture

Glad to hear that!  I believe that if you just double click on the public keyring pubring,pkr, you will have the option of importing all of its keys; and you can then double click on the private keyring secring.skr to have the option of importing all private keys on it.  You will then need to go to either All Keys or My Private Keys in PGP Desktop, right click on each key having a private key component, select Properties and set Trust to Implicit.

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Heywood's picture

Problem solved.  I just went back with the original HD and used PGP to decrypt the external HD.

I did the key transfer thing that you mentioned above.  While it let me into the disk, it would not let me decrypt it.