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Still no boot after recovery decryption

Created: 06 Feb 2013 | 4 comments

I short summery of my problem first: I have a Lenovo Thinkpad and installed a new Windows 8 on an Ultrabay HDD, while having my regular, PGP WDE encrypted harddisk still in the notebook. Thereby the MBR of my regular harddisk got overwritten by the Windows 8 bootloader, preventing the PGP startup screen to apear. So I was no longer able to boot into my regular (encrypted) Windows XP.

After that, I used the recovery disk to decrypt the whole disk (that took about 30h, but finished without failures).

But after decryption I still was not able to boot (got a "no operating system found" error). I tried connecting my harddisk with two different PCs (Linux & Windows 7) and both did not recognize the disk / file system. The recovery CD does not find any PGPWDE installation on the disk anymore, so the disk really seems to be encrypted.

I used testdisk on my Windows machine to recover the lost filesystem, but I does not find anything (by now I only used the Quick Search).

I have no idea what to do at this point. I have some really important data on this disk and I don't know what is the problem right now. The disk should be fully decrypted and I should be able to recover the data somehow, I think. Any suggestions?

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PGP_Ben's picture

One point I wanted to make first, is that Windows 8 is not a supported release yet. We do have known problems with Drive Encryption on this version of Windows. We will be addressing those problems with an upcoming product release by next quarter.

In attempt to recover the data. I would recommend hooking the drive up to another machine (or booting a Windows recovery disk) and overwritting the MBR. 

Once you have done that, boot the recovery CD and try the advanced recovery option. It will take a while since it has to scan the entire drive for the backup user records located further on in the disk drive (past the MBR/partition table section). If it finds that, it will prompt you to unlock the disk with a passphrase.

Not sure why it acted like it decrypted the drive, when it sounds like it didn't decrypt at all.

May I ask what version of PGP WDE you had it encrypted with? Our latest as of today is Symantec Drive Encryption (formerly PGP Whole Disk Encryption) 10.3.0.

If/when you consider your issue resolved, please click Mark As Solution on the most helpful response.

markusH's picture

Thanks for your reply!
My version of PGP WDE is 10.1.2.

I cannot do what you propose because the recovery CD does not find a PGPWDE installation anymore. So the first decryption seems to have done something.

lep's picture

It is impossible to correctly install (upgrade, reset, refresh, repair) windows when a hard-disk is encrypted. A drive needs to first be decrypted, after which you can install, re-install, repair, or upgrade windows. Actually, if you erroneously due a cold re-install of windows 8 on an encrypted drive, once you think you are done, and have rebooted the second time, windows will revert back to original install before you re-installed (repaired, reset, upgraded, etc).

Given the above, it's a good working practice to realize that doing anything involving a windows install or repair on an encrypted drive is ineffective. This is because important system, hive, and boot files are cloaked and not accessible for repair/replacement. Decrypting first will allow access to these files.

FGD's picture

Hi, perhaps this thread could help me solve an issue: I installed PGP 10.2.1 in a WIndows 8 laptop, not knowing this version was not yet supported. I tried to run WDE assigning the same windows Logon password option and the process started but never passed the 0% for several minutes, so I tried to stop the process. But it was not responding. After I normally restarted Windows, PGP asked to enter passphrase and seemed to be booting normally. But when the logon screen was about to appear, there was blue screen saying information had to be collected and then windows was going to be restarted.

I haven't been able to logon to windows since. The only way was by restoring Windows to a previous version before PGP was installed. I tried to reinstall but when it asks to restart, the problem appears again.

Sorry for my English, hope I could explain the issue appropiately