In today’s world of pervasive hacking and data theft, keeping your files encrypted is one of the few possible ways to protect them from misuse. But there is a caveat: you too may want to access these files in the future. And this is where you will need the decryption.
In fact, sometimes your files are encrypted without permission, such as during a malware attack. Fortunately, there are ways to recover such encrypted files. Let’s cover them all.
1. Decrypt your files with the command prompt
You can decrypt your encrypted files and folders on Windows with Command Prompt, a command line interpreter called cmd.exe or cmd.
This works if you previously encrypted the file using the Cipher command and are using the exact same PC and copy of Windows as when you encrypted it. If you are on a different PC or have recently reinstalled Windows, you can no longer decrypt your files.
To get started, open an elevated command prompt. To do this, type command prompt in the Start menu search bar and open the command prompt as administrator. If you don’t see the search bar, start typing and it should appear.
Now is the time to run some code and decrypt your files. To decrypt only the parent folder, enter the following command:
cipher /d “Path”
To decrypt a folder with all subfolders and files, use the following command, replacing “path” with the full path of the folder you want to decrypt:
cipher /d /s:"Path"
2. Decrypt files from properties
If you have encrypted your files with EFS, you can easily decrypt them from the Properties section. Right click on the encrypted file and select Properties.
In the General tab, select Advanced. Now uncheck the box Encrypt content to secure data radio box and click OKAY. You will see another dialog box asking if you want Apply changes to this folder Where Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files.
Choose what you want and select Okay. Your files will be decrypted in seconds.
3. Remove malware with Windows Defender
The above steps are fine if you have encrypted your files to begin with, and if you haven’t done the encryption? Sometimes a malware attack encrypts your files without your permission to prevent you from accessing your own documents.
In the worst case scenario, you are dealing with a ransomware attack. Ransomware is a specific type of malware that blocks your access to the device or to certain particular information and then demands a ransom to unlock it.
In this article, we are going to focus on malware that still allows you to log into your PC. If you’re having trouble signing in and think you’re dealing with ransomware, check out our guide on what ransomware is and how to remove it. The guide will take you to some ransomware decryption tools that can unlock your files again.
To remove ordinary malware, you need to scan your PC with Windows Defender. To get started, open the Settings> Updates & Security> Windows Defender. From there, click on the Open Windows Defender Security Center.
Then click on Virus and threat protection> Quick scan. Windows Defender will quickly scan your PC for issues. You can also run a full scan.
If the problem persists, try one of the best free antivirus solutions and see if it finds anything.
Once the antivirus finds the malware, write down the name of the virus. Then search online for a decryption tool for this malware strain. Unfortunately, you cannot decrypt the files yourself, so you have to seek professional help to unlock your files again.
Decryption of your Windows 10 files
Encryption is a good way to protect your data from falling into untrustworthy hands; however, like most complex things, encryption is a double-edged sword; and, it can become counterproductive if you cannot access your files later. We hope you were able to decrypt your Windows files through one of these methods.
Thinking of encrypting your Linux drive? It’s a wise move, but wait until you’ve considered the pros and cons.
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