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Reloading Windows on a System That Uses EFS - 15 Feb 2005

I'm running Windows 2000 and three NTFS drives. I recently had to reload my system drive, and now I can't access files on my second drive, which is encrypted with Encrypting File System (EFS). I have nothing left from the old drive, including no certificates. Is there a way to make the domain administrator the recovery agent to decrypt the files?

Unfortunately, no. You essentially have a new computer, or at least a new installation of Windows, so the recovery agent of your new installation has nothing to do with the recovery agent of your old copy of Windows. When you reinstalled Windows, you erased both your private key and the private key of your recovery agent. Unless you exported and saved your EFS certificate or your recovery agent's certificate before re-installing Windows, you won't be able to decrypt the files. When you use EFS, you must back up your EFS certificate along with its private key. Your one hope is that if you previously backed up the system to some other media or one of the other drives on the system and included the system state, you might be able to restore the system state over your new copy of Windows and then access your EFS certificates.

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