Recover Data from an Encrypted Hard Drive

Data encryption is a double-edged sword. Nobody will deny that encryption is extremely important, especially for sensitive material such as HIPAA-protected medical records. And yet if you lose your password, the data on your encrypted hard drive vanishes—forever. You can’t ask the drive politely for access to your data.

Whatever tool you used to encrypt your hard drive doesn’t care whether your intentions are good or bad. If you don’t have the password, you don’t get your data. Period.

Even more frustrating is when you have all your necessary decryption credentials, but when you unlock your drive, nothing comes up.

Getting locked out of your data for not remembering the password is rough. Getting locked out of your data even when you have your encryption credentials because suddenly everything else won't work is maddening.

Maybe your drive doesn't show up or gives a boot error. Maybe the data is visible, but you can't open any files. Or maybe your drive is making unusual noises and won't show you anything. Luckily for you, when your encrypted hard drive has failed, Gillware’s encrypted hard drive recovery services can help you.

We Recover Data from Encrypted Devices

Whether you have full-disk encryption like FileVault or file-level encryption like EFS, for all its uses, encryption adds an extra wrinkle to deal with in the event your external hard drive, desktop hard disk, or other storage devices suddenly stop working. When you can't fix the problem on your own, and you can't salvage any of your encrypted data with data recovery software, you can turn to us.


To access data from an encrypted storage device that has broken down, there are two factors you need on your side: the decryption credentials, and a team of data recovery experts to repair your storage device and salvage your files.

Gillware's encrypted data recovery services include:

  • Free consultations with our friendly advisors with instant price range estimates
  • Free inbound shipping to our data recovery lab in Madison, WI
  • Free in-lab evaluations by world-class data recovery specialists
  • No upfront charges for encrypted hard drive recovery services
  • Secure faciltities to make sure your encrypted data stays safe and sound all the way through the recovery process
  • Financially risk-free "No Data, No Charge" data recovery guarantee

Gillware has been salvaging data from failed storage devices since 2003, with over 100,000 cases successfully solved in our lab to date.

Gillware's Encrypted Data Recovery Services

  • Mac data recovery
  • Windows data recovery
  • EFS file-level encryption
  • Bitlocker full-disk encryption
  • FileVault full-disk encryption
  • Hard drives, USB flash drives, mobile devices, and more

How We Recover Data from an Encrypted Hard Drive

You’re minding your own business, working on your own business at home. Your cat jumps on your desk and, as they are wont to do, carefully nudges the full-drive encrypted external drive you keep all your financial documents on off the edge. It hits the floor with a thud. You plug it back into your computer, hear some nasty clicks, and hastily unplug it. The external drive is toast. Can Gillware get your Quickbooks file back?

Yes, we can.

Recovering data from encrypted devices puts a little wrinkle into the normal data recovery process here in Gillware's lab. Read on to learn more about how it works:

Let's say you dropped your Smartware-encrypted Western Digital MyBook hard drive on the floor, it started clicking, and you sent it to Gillware. Here's what happens next.

Recovering your encrypted external drive will be a little different from a normal dropped external hard drive recovery case. We still need to open up your hard drive in our data recovery lab and make repairs, just like any other hard drive failure case, then use our proprietary forensic imaging tools to scan and image the drive's contents for further analysis.

But the difficulty comes in imaging the drive. We cannot decrypt your drive until it is imaged. This means we cannot immediately scan and target the file definitions or used area of the drive like we usually do. We also can’t immediately target your most critical data first. Our data recovery cleanroom engineers have to make as complete of an image of the drive as possible before we decrypt it, then run our scans to see what we've gotten.

Depending on the severity of the hard drive’s failure, it isn’t always possible to create a perfect image of a failed drive. And we can’t know where any of the blank spots are until after decryption.

Encrypted hard drive recovery also ties up more machine time than a normal HDD data recovery service. This is because the image we create has to be decrypted and cloned before we can show the client the results of our recovery efforts. Getting as perfect of a 100% read as possible may also require more work from our cleanroom engineers than a case in which we can read a smaller portion of a drive and get all of the user’s files.

Common Types of Full-Drive Encryption

Full-drive encryption is one of the more popular encryption methods. Our encrypted hard drive recovery services tend to involve full-drive encryption. Generally, full-drive encryption doesn’t encrypt the entire hard drive, despite its name. Some forms of full-drive encryption, such as FileVault 2, create a small 600-megabyte system partition that remains unencrypted. Others will leave the master boot record unencrypted. Our engineers can look at the MBR to see which form of encryption the drive has. Encrypted hard drive recovery generally follows the same process outlined above regardless of the type of full-drive encryption.

FileVault 2 Data Recovery

FileVault 2 is a form of full-drive encryption for Mac computers. The original FileVault was a file-based encryption tool that only password-protected the contents of the user’s Home folder. FileVault 2 encrypts the entire active volume on the user’s hard drive.

BitLocker Data Recovery

Bitlocker is a form of full-drive encryption for PCs that comes built-in with Windows. The encryption credentials for Bitlocker can be stored on a USB flash drive. It can be used to encrypt both the internal drive of the user's PC and any external data storage devices attached to it as well.

TrueCrypt Data Recovery

TrueCrypt is a freeware full-drive encryption tool for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux operating systems. It was discontinued in 2014, and superseded by other open-source encryption tools such as VeraCrypt and CipherShed, which were developed off of its source code.

SmartWare Data Recovery

SmartWare-capable external drives, such as the My Passport and My Book drives, automatically enable encryption, even if the user never sets a password. With some hard drives, a special portion of the control board encrypts any data written to the drive and decrypts any data read from the drive. For others, a special dongle connected to the drive encrypts and decrypts data.

File-Based Encryption

Another form of encryption our engineers see is file-level encryption. Features like Microsoft's EFS, Credant, or Apple's built-in file encryption options allow files and entire folders to be encrypted, but not the entire volume. When drives with file-level encryption fail, our data recovery engineers can read and logically analyze their filesystems just like any other drive.

However, due to the encryption, it is more difficult to test critical files for functionality or assess the level of possible file corruption that has occurred.

Why choose Gillware Data Recovery for Your Encrypted Hard Drive?

Gillware's data recovery services are affordably priced, technologically innovative and completely secure.

Financially Risk-Free and Expedited Encrypted Hard Drive Recovery Services

Gillware’s data recovery services for failed encrypted drives are financially risk-free. We charge no upfront costs and no evaluation fees. Inbound shipping is on our dime for any customers in the continental US. And if we cannot recover your critical data from your failed encrypted drive, you owe us nothing—period.

Emergency Data Recovery Services

If you’re in a hurry to get your data back, Gillware offers expedited recovery options with an average turnaround of 1-4 business days. Our Advantage and Priority services are just as financially risk-free as our standard services. We apply the surcharge for expedited service to your final bill only if the recovery is successful.

Cutting-Edge Technology

Best-in-class engineering and software development staff
Gillware employs a full-time staff of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, computer scientists and software developers to handle the most complex data recovery situations and data solutions
Strategic partnerships with leading technology companies
Gillware is proud to be a recommended provider for Dell, Western Digital and other major hardware and software vendors. These partnerships allow us to gain unique insights into recovering from these devices
RAID Array / NAS / SAN data recovery
Using advanced engineering techniques, we can recover data from large capacity, enterprise-grade storage devices such as RAID arrays, network attached storage (NAS) devices and storage area network (SAN) devices
Virtual machine data recovery
Thanks to special engineering and programming efforts, Gillware is able to recover data from virtualized environments with a high degree of success


SOC 2 Type II audited
Gillware has been security audited to ensure data safety, meaning all our facilities, networks, policies and practices have been independently reviewed and determined as completely secure
Secure facility and staff
Gillware's facilities meet the SOC 2 Type II audit requirements for security to prevent entry by unauthorized personnel. All staff are pre-screened, background checked and fully instructed in the security protocol of the company
We are a GSA contract holder.
We meet the criteria to be approved for use by government agencies GSA Contract No.: GS-35F-0547W
HIPAA compliant
For HIPAA-covered entities and business associates, our entire data recovery process can be handled to meet HIPAA requirements for encryption, transfer, and protection of e-PHI

Sensible Pricing

No obligation, no up-front fees, free inbound shipping and no-cost evaluations
Gillware's data recovery process is 100% financially risk-free. We only charge if the data you want is successfully recovered
Our pricing is 40-50% less than our competition
By using cutting-edge engineering techniques, we are able to control costs and keep data recovery prices low
Instant price range online estimates
By providing us with some basic information about your case, we can give you an idea of how much it will cost before you proceed with the recovery
We only charge for successful data recovery efforts
We work with you to define clear data recovery goals for our technicians, and only charge you upon successfully meeting these goals and recovering the data that is most important to you

Gillware is trusted, reviewed and certified

Gillware has the seal of approval from a number of different independent review organizations, including SOC 2 Type II audit status, so our customers can be sure they're getting the best data recovery service possible.