ntfsdecrypt Man page

NTFSDECRYPT(8) System Manager’s Manual NTFSDECRYPT(8)


ntfsdecrypt – decrypt or update NTFS files encrypted according to EFS


ntfsdecrypt [options] -k key.pfx device file


ntfsdecrypt decrypts a file from an unmounted device and print the
decrypted data on the standard output. It can also update an encrypted
file with the encryption key unchanged.

The NTFS file encryption (known as EFS) uses a two-level encryption :
first, the file contents is encrypted with a random symmetric key, then
this symmetric key is encrypted with the public keys of each of the
users allowed to decrypt the file (RSA public key encryptions).

Three symmetric encryption modes are currently implemented in ntfsde‐
crypt : DESX (a DES variant), 3DES (triple DES) and AES_256 (an AES

All the encrypted symmetric keys are stored along with the file in a
special extended attribute named “$LOGGED_UTILITY_STREAM”. Usually, at
least two users are allowed to read the file : its owner and the recov‐
ery manager who is able to decrypt all the files in a company. When
backing up an encrypted file, it is important to also backup the corre‐
sponding $LOGGED_UTILITY_STREAM, otherwise the file cannot be
decrypted, even by the recovery manager. Also note that encrypted files
are slightly bigger than apparent, and the option “efs_raw” has to be
used when backing up encrypted files with ntfs-3g.

When ntfsdecrypt is used to update a file, the keys and the
$LOGGED_UTILITY_STREAM are kept unchanged, so a single key file has to
be designated.

Note : the EFS encryption is only available in professional versions of


Below is a summary of all the options that ntfsdecrypt accepts. Nearly
all options have two equivalent names. The short name is preceded by –
and the long name is preceded by –. Any single letter options, that
don’t take an argument, can be combined into a single command, e.g.
-fv is equivalent to -f -v. Long named options can be abbreviated to
any unique prefix of their name.

-i, –inode NUM
Display or update the contents of a file designated through its
inode number instead of its name.

-e, –encrypt
Update an existing encrypted file and get the new contents from
the standard input. The full public and private key file has to
be designated, as the symmetric key is kept unchanged, so the
private key is needed to extract it.

-f, –force
This will override some sensible defaults, such as not using a
mounted volume. Use this option with caution.

-k, –keyfile-name key.pfx
Define the file which contains the public and private keys in
PKCS#12 format. This file obviously contains the keys of one of
the users allowed to decrypt or update the file. It has to be
extracted from Windows in PKCS#12 format (its usual suffix is
.p12 or .pfx), and it is protected by a passphrase which has to
be typed in for the keys to be extracted. This can be the key
file of any user allowed to read the file, including the one of
the recovery manager.

-h, –help
Show a list of options with a brief description of each one.

-q, –quiet
Suppress some debug/warning/error messages.

-V, –version
Show the version number, copyright and license of ntfsdecrypt.

-v, –verbose
Display more debug/warning/error messages.

Display the contents of the file hamlet.doc in the directory Documents
of the root of the NTFS file system on the device /dev/sda1

ntfsdecrypt -k foo.key /dev/sda1 Documents/hamlet.doc

Update the file hamlet.doc

ntfsdecrypt -k foo.key /dev/sda1 Documents/hamlet.doc < new.doc


There are no known problems with ntfsdecrypt. If you find a bug please
send an email describing the problem to the development team:

ntfsdecrypt was written by Yuval Fledel, Anton Altaparmakov and Yura
Pakhuchiy. It was ported to ntfs-3g by Erik Larsson and upgraded by
Jean-Pierre Andre.

ntfsdecrypt is part of the ntfs-3g package and is available from:



Read ntfs-3g(8) for details on option efs_raw,
ntfscat(8), ntfsprogs(8)

ntfs-3g 2015.3.14AR.1 June 2014 NTFSDECRYPT(8)

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