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I created an encrypted file with Windows 7 32-bit on a NAS (mybooklive) and backed the file (not the certificate) up locally to the computer's hard drive. The original Win7 computer had a motherboard failure. I did not backup the EFS key before the board failed. The hard drive is in fine working condition, but the computer cannot boot.

  1. Is there a way to recover the encrypted files without being forced to replace the motherboard on the dead machine?

  2. If I re-image a different computer with a backed-up image of my Win7 hard drive, will those encrypted files become available? Will the new computer still work, or will the different drivers, etc cause a failure?

  3. If I do replace the motherboard with a compatible but slightly different model (the original is not easily available), will I be able to recover the files just by booting the computer as normal?

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Maybe a better question is simply how can I boot into this hard drive on a different laptop? I expect boot failure due to different hardware, drivers, etc. If I can boot into windows, I can export the certificate. – trmills Sep 25 '13 at 15:31

You could take the hard drive out, and hook it up to a working computer with a usb -> ata/sata adapter. You would then be able to extract the EFS keys. You should be able to then use that key on a working windows installation to decrypt your backed-up files.

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