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Is it possible to decrypt a file that was encrypted with Windows' EFS using only the administrator password for the account that the file was encrypted with?

EDIT: If it is possible: What is the exact procedure for doing so (assuming one only has the encrypted file and can't log into the corresponding Windows account)?

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    "Is it possible to decrypt a file that was encrypted with Windows' EFS using only the administrator password for the account that the file was encrypted with?" - Only if you have the password to the certificate that was used to the encrypt the data. If you do not currently have a backup of the certificate then you will be unable to access the files.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 27, 2020 at 21:47

2 Answers 2

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To access EFS encrypted files, you need to get the password of the account which was used encrypt it.

I would not use EFS to encrypt files in this case. Otherwise I will change ownership of the file/folder to the Administrator account. And then standard users will need Administrator password to get access to the files/folders. You can do this from Properties > Security tab.

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You need the key to access the file, this prevents an unauthorized user (ex a thief) from taking a drive and using a boot disk to reset the password or putting the drive in as a secondary drive on a system they have admin access on.

AKAIK the account's password is used to encrypt the key. This requires you know the password.

Yes, as an admin you can force reset this password but you still do not know the original password and therefore the key encrypted with it. It warns you that resetting the password this way will cause EFS keys to be lost...

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  • Why was this down voted? Is it because it contains something that's incorrect, or the voter didn't like that they cannot recover the file? Apr 7, 2021 at 21:55

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