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How do I decrypt a Standalone system that is unable to start Windows?
Article ID: KB211 email a link to this article

Before you start the recovery procedure, please ensure that you are following the correct recovery article:  

Full Disk Encryption Recovery Overview


NOTE: You MUST NOT use this recovery method when disks have been encrypted using OPAL


Should your Full Disk Encrypted (FDE) machine suffer a Windows error that prevents Windows from starting correctly, you may be required to decrypt the disk in order that Boot CD and other Windows recovery methods are able to access the disk contents to correct the error.

To do this you can use the FDE recovery ISO image to create a bootable USB device or CD to boot and decrypt the system without requiring Windows itself to load.

The recovery image can be downloaded here:

Important: ensure a full sector-by-sector backup of the existing hard drive has been taken before attempting recover.

See this article for details: KB70 - How do I perform a full sector by sector backup of my hard drive?

Decrypting the Workstation

  • If the machine being recovered is a laptop, then ensure it is connected to its power supply throughout the entire decryption process.
  • Either create a bootable USB device or CD/DVD using the recovery ISO and then boot the machine using the media.
  • You should be greeted by a splash screen, press Return or wait a short while for the software to launch. 

  • The recovery app will launch, press the Return key to continue.

If you do not reach this prompt within a few minutes, it is likely that your PC hardware is not compatible with the recovery ISO. In this event, you should follow article below instead, even if the machine is not UEFI only.

KB281 - How do I decrypt a system that only has UEFI boot mode?

  • Type the word DECRYPT then press Enter.
Detecting devices...

Encrypted drives or partitions found

**                        !WARNING!                        **
**                                                         **
**                                                         **

Please Note : Keyboard input is US English ONLY

Please type DECRYPT and press Return to continue, anything else will abort.
  • The Recovery ISO allows any FDE User to start decryption, as shown below
Detected Usernames:
Names : 'admin', 'user1', 'user2'
Please enter a username: _
  • Note however, if you use the Standalone recovery on a MANAGED system, you can only use the 'admin' user
This is a Managed workstation, only the FDE Admin user can be used.
If you do not have this, you should use the FDE Recovery Image from your Server.
  • Providing the credentials provided are correct, the decryption will start.  Note: It is very important you let the process complete and DO NOT shutdown or power the machine off.
Please enter the password for the user 'admin' to begin decryption
NOTE: Password characters WILL be displayed on screen
Enter password: theadminpassword

Encrypted items: 1
Decrypt disk 0:0 (/dev/sda)
Decryption in progress, do not shutdown or power off, press ESC to stop.
Decrypting : please wait
Decrypting : sector 12345 of 678901 (est. time 0h3m01s)
  • Once decryption is complete press Enter to restart the machine.
Decryption : device complete

Zero cached status block
Zero status block @ 34567

Decryption of disk complete
Everything decrypted. Restore system mbr
Restoring master MBR on disk 0:0...

Your system has been successfully decrypted
  • Remove the recovery media from the system and when the system restarts, it should boot straight to Windows without showing the pre-boot login screen. 

Keywords: recover, windows, error, fail, boot, decrypt, iso, standalone

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