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Unable to access files in an encrypted folder

I am running Windows XP Pro. My system recently failed because I had a folder that was encrypted. I do not recall creating a certificate before doing the encryption. I was able to salvage other files included the encrypted folder. I was able to use the IBM restore disks to wipe and re-install the necessary elements to have my computer up and running. However, I am unable to access my files in the encrypted folder. The message I received states "access denied." How can I resolve this problem in order to gain access to my folder?
When you use the EFS to encrypt a file for the first time, a self-signed certificate is created for you without any other required action. So if you used EFS to encrypt the files, then the certificate was created and stored, along with the private key (necessary to decrypt) in your user profile. When you used the IBM disks to restore your OS, you deleted the user profile, and the certificate and private key. I'm afraid, unless you have a backup of the certificate and key, that you cannot decrypt the files in the folder. That is the way encryption works, without the key, access denied.

This was first published in January 2004

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