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Encrypted Hard disk and MBR of windows corrupted

Created: 11 Nov 2012 • Updated: 21 Nov 2012 | 6 comments
This issue has been solved. See solution.

Hello all,

                 Here's what i did.. I had a Windows 7 installed partition on my thinkpad T420 .. on the second hard disk partition i installed Fedora to have a dual boot with windows .. Meanwhile I had installed PGP Desktop 10.1.2 on my windows and began encrypting the hard disk .. This linux partition having fedora won't be available on windows, so i assumed that only the other partitions would get encrypted.. Since PGP allows encryption to be paused and resumed , I paused the encryption at some 25% .. 

What happened next was total disaster.. The fedora partition somehow got corrupted because of my experiments and so without a second thought I just reinstalled the fedora .. Since my windows partition was 25% encrypted, Fedora just corrupted the MBR of windows and what i now had on startup was a pure linux GRUB and no windows boot option ... 

To fix this i put the windows recovery disk and did bootrec.exe /fixBoot /fixMbr and so on ... So now the GRUB loading was gone as well.. But since the PGP encryption has been done, i couldn't continue into windows ... So to see if there's any way to decrypt this encrypted hard disk I read some posts and technical stuffs that PGP had here .. They asked me to download a recovery image  burn on to a disk and try booting... I did so and the PGP screen comes up and says that it failed to load some modules and just says "Cannot continue", Press any key to continue ... 

My doubt now is that can this PGP recovery image decrypt a partially excrypted disk (only 25% of the disk is encrypted) .. ?? 

Have spent more than 6 hours in progressing so far ... Any help regarding how to decrypt the hard disk and fixing the MBR of windows is appreciated ... 

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Alex_CST's picture

That's a lot of errors right there :)

  1. If you encrypt a disk, it is not clever enough to determine what is installed on it, you have to explicitly define to encrypt just a single partition otherwise it will encrypt the entire thing regardless.
  2. If you did /fixBoot and /fixMBR that will replace the MBR with the windows one.  PGP replaces that MBR with the GRUB loader, so doing /fixMBR and /fixBoot will overwrite the MBR.

There is an option in the recovery disk to rewrite the MBR to make PGP work, but if you have already started encrypting you cannot stop it.  Depending on the size it can take a day or 2 or 7 to decrypt fully.  You are just going to have to either stop decrypting and accept defeat and wipe everything, or just wait for it to decrypt.

Please mark posts as solutions if they solve your problem!

kgkarrthik's picture

Thanks Alex for the response ... :-) 

I managed to download PGP 10.2.1 Bootable image and managed to boot from it ... And thankfully it was able to detect a PGP encrypted Hard disk .. So i just gave the D option and its been more than 30 hours now ... 

Fortunately I had only encrypted only 33% of the Hard disk which has been decrypted to around 17% till now .. Hopefully it might just complete tomorrow after which i might be able to boot into my windows partition ... 

Quite a good lesson that I've learnt through this experience ... Hard disks and encryptions are quite complicated :-D

Alex_CST's picture

Yup just be very patient with it and you will be fine :)

Please mark posts as solutions if they solve your problem!

kgkarrthik's picture

Hel Alex,

              Got the decryption completed successfully after which PGP had come to some bootguard screen i guess .. Some black terminal .. I was worried and rebooted immediately with a windows bootable drive .. Went for repair on that and did bootrec /fixmbr /fixboot /scanos and so on .. bootrec wasn't able to detect any OS installed here again ... It shows 0 windows installations .. 

               I put the PGP recovery disc again and hit the button to look for a PGP installation on the disk .. It has failed as well (kinda kept looking for a longer time than the previous try) .. Read more blogs and forums on this and got a pgp_fixmbr.exe file from PGP site which needs to be coupled with some PE (like BartPE or winPE) .. got winPE from windows site and burnt it onto the disc along with this pgp_fixmbr.exe .. When i boot from this drive and try executing pgp_fixmbr.exe, it says "The subsystem needed to support the image type is not present" ... 

              When i try booting directly without any boot discs, it gets to a black screen with a blinking cursor and stops there ... 

              What should i be doing next ?? Am totally confused here ... But somehow am determined to complete this task .. Please help .. 

Alex_CST's picture

That means you have the wrong bit length for your OS.  if you have a 64bit OS you need 64bit WinPE, and if you have 32bit you need 32bit WinPE - Then go through normally.

You're nearly there just need the correct bit WinPE disk. - ignore the actual solutions on this page but the subsystem error is the same

Please mark posts as solutions if they solve your problem!

kgkarrthik's picture

Well thanks alex .. You know, i didn't get time to look at this last reply .. Meanwhile i had reached office and managed to do a clean install of my laptop .. 

Eitherway I wanted get out of it myself .. But i missed out the last part of it .. Anyways i guess this marks the solution to this trouble .. Somewhere this might be useful to someone .. 

Who knows , I myself might need it someday ..