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Old 01-02-2011, 04:26 PM   #1
poluser
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Recovering a Truecrypt encoded hard disk


Hi all,

I searched this forum and Truecrypt's forum but couldn't find anything similar to what I did.

I have a few hard disks fully encrypted with Truecrypt. They have not been partitioned, just encoded right of the bat with Truecrypt. I just use Truecrypt command line to mount them, supplying password whe asked.

So from a linux standpoint, they show up as disks with unallocated space.

But I recently updated (moved) my linux from Ubuntu to Kubuntu. In the process, the partition manager asked where to install the new OS, I answered erase existing system and install there. But I noticed too late that the install program decided to install GRUB on another disk, one of my encrypted disks, instead of the system disk already selected. I don't know why, but it did. Now this disk shows up in linux as a disk with multiple partitions, and of course I can no longer mount it with Truecrypt.

I haven't done anything with the disk, except from trying to mount it in Truecrypt. So apart from the GRUB install, nothing else was touched on the disk.

I know Truecrypt place a backup header towards the end of the encrypted disk, so it should still be there intact, but since I now have multiple partitions, Truecrypt is certainly confused and cannot see the end of the disk since I now have 4 of them (partitions).

I am not a beginner but I am hesitant to attempt something that could kill all hopes of recovering the disk. It is a 2TB disk with a lot of data on it. I could probably make a copy of the entire disk but this means buying another 2TB disk....

One of the first idea was to kill the current partition setup to leave it "unpartitionned", so like it was before, maybe Truecrypt will now find the backup header. But before I do so, I would like opinion of real experts on linux.

I welcome any help on this one. Of course anything I try will be commented here for others to "learn".

P.S. I didn't do a header backup of the Truecrypt disks, before today....

Thanks a lot!
 
Old 01-02-2011, 07:10 PM   #2
eSelix
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Registered: Oct 2009
Location: Wroclaw, Poland
Distribution: Arch, Kubuntu
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If you get error during mounting encrypted partition, then main header is damaged. You can try to use backup header. The partitions have no meaning, I don't known what do you mean by "Truecrypt is certainly confused and cannot see the end of the disk" - the end of hard disk is constant, if this was /dev/sda then after partitioning this is still /dev/sda. If you get error during mounting using backuped headers you lost your data. The headers are neccessary to encryption like a password.

Last edited by eSelix; 01-02-2011 at 07:12 PM.
 
Old 01-02-2011, 11:23 PM   #3
poluser
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Registered: Jan 2011
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Thanks a lot!!!!

What I meant was; I tought linux was only able to access partitions (SDA1, SDA2, etc) once it had been partitionned, so Truecrypt was unable to see the backup header since the disk (hence the encrypted volume) was "splitted" in parts... Ok, I know now it works otherwise.

Now back to the problem at hand. I've never used the restore header function before and thought it was only working if one had made a backup of the headers earlier. So I didn't check this any further. I tried it on SDA (which is the actual corrupted disk) and it worked! Got my data back!!!

eSelix, you saved my data, and saved my life.... Thanks again!
 
Old 01-03-2011, 04:42 AM   #4
eSelix
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Nice to hear I also advice you to make a backup on another drive and then run some check disk software on mounted truecrypt volume. Your decoded file system can be corrupted.
 
Old 01-05-2011, 10:52 PM   #5
poluser
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Registered: Jan 2011
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Thanks again for the advice. Unfortunately a backup is technically impossible due to the amount of data and the lack of free space on other disks. I am therefore quite concerned about running this tool live on the disk. I don't want to live the stress I lived through last time...

Right now I am testing the integrity of each file one by one so if anything is wrong Ičll know which files have been corrupted or which directory entry has. So far so good. Even if some files have gone bad, I am still happy with the result!
 
  


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