Encrypted Hard Drive Recovery

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. 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. Luckily for you, when your encrypted hard drive has failed, Gillware’s encrypted hard drive recovery services can help you.

Failed Encrypted Hard Drive Recovery Services

image of chain with locked padlock attached

Encrypted hard drive recovery can only be done if we have the proper decryption credentials to unlock the drive (image source: Flickr)

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.

Encrypted hard drive recovery in our cleanroomBut 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. But the difficulty comes in imaging the drive. We cannot decrypt your drive until it is imaged. This means we cannot immediately target the file definitions or used area of the drive. 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. 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 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.

Western Digital SmartWare Data Recovery

There are also types of hardware-based full-drive encryption, such as Western Digital SmartWare encryption. SmartWare-capable external drives, such as the My Passport and My Book drives, automatically enable encryption, even if the user never sets a password. For My Passport drives, a special portion of the control board encrypts any data written to the drive and decrypts any data read from the drive. For My Book drives, a special dongle connected to the drive encrypts and decrypts data. If no password is set, simply having the correct control board or dongle is enough for us to decrypt the data on the drive.

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 harder to test critical files for functionality or assess the level of possible file corruption that has occurred.

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.

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.

Why choose Gillware Data Recovery?

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


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 insight 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.

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
Our entire data recovery process can be handled to meet HIPAA requirements for encryption, transfer and protection of e-PHI.


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 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.

Gillware is a proud member of IDEMA and the Apple Consultants Network.

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