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Windows 7: Encrypted

30 May 2011   #1

Windows 7

Last year I was working on a project and one tree of folders and files that I received for it displayed in Explorer with the file names appearing green. I had never seen that before and I thought it was odd, but I just assumed that the person who created the files just knew some obscure Windows coloring trick.

I worked with the files for two months without a problem and created many, many new files that were based on those, and they all appeared in Explorer with green names.

So last night and today I spent some hours learning the hard way that:

1) If a file is green it means that it is encrypted.
2) If you re-install Windows, be sure you un-encrypt those files before doing so.

So now I have a question: Am I totally screwed? Is there a way for me to open these without hunting down a certificate from the person who originally started the project and pray that he hasn't re-installed Windows since then?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2011   #2

Vista HP, Vista Ultimate, XP Pro, Seven Ultimate x2

It is likely that, because you are able to access those files - you too have the required certificate. I suggest you to decrypt those files and backup your certificate for those files. Backing up and restoring these certificates is not hard at all. If you are going to use the EFS, you should first practice on files that are not important if lost.

This will show you how to backup your certificate. If you are 100% precent sure that this is the certificate then you will not need to decrypt the files, you would just simpy restore the certificate. You can also password protect certificates to insure that not just anyone can install them.

Encrypted File System (EFS) Certificate Backup - Vista Forums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2011   #3

Windows 7

What I'm saying is that I can no longer open the files because I re-installed Windows a couple months ago, thus severing whatever connection I had with them. At least that's what I believe is going on. All my other permissions and ownership settings appear to be in order.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

30 May 2011   #4

Windows 7

But that also begs the question: How was I able to open them originally? I was never given a certificate from the guy who made the files. I just downloaded a RAR file and unpacked them and they were green like that and totally usable to me.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2011   #5

Vista HP, Vista Ultimate, XP Pro, Seven Ultimate x2

Sorry, I was thinking that you hadn't yet re-installed Windows. You are totally screwed unless you can get that certificate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2011   #6

Windows 7

Now that I'm really investigating this, I'm finally noticing that the only certificate listed under "Users who can access this file" is one that was issued by my computer under my name.

Is there a way to create a new certificate on my computer that has the same "Certificate Thumbprint" as the one listed? I can go through the steps of adding my computer's current certificate to the list, but in the end I am just denied the ability to make changes to the files.

This is just so weird. The files came this way when I first unzipped them. At least I never consciously encrypted them. And I've never dealt with encrypting before in my life.
My System SpecsSystem Spec


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