View Full Version : Encryption problem

07-12-2017, 05:07 PM
Hi All

I am in deep trouble at the moment. My Apple MacBook Pro was stolen and the only backup I have is of TimeMachine that is encrypted with FileVault and I have forgotten the password. I know I know, you all saying what a pawpaw and you are correct, but I need help as their are some seriously important spreadsheets with formulas that I need for business purposes. If I cannot get in it will set me back 4 years and have to start rebuilding those spreadsheets etc.

Help please

07-12-2017, 05:27 PM
I'll go first. Sorry to tell you, but the only way in is to remember the password. Or find the paper you and it written down on.

07-12-2017, 05:32 PM
Do you have the recovery key?

I have my disk encrypted with FileVault and the System Pref page indicates that a recovery key is set and my login password will decrypt the data and my iCloud account can be used to reset things if I forgot..

So have you tried your login password or iCloud password?

07-12-2017, 05:52 PM
Hi Raz0rEdge

I fear all may be lost. I plug the external hard drive in and it immediately asks me for a password. I have tried my login password and it does not work. My new MacBook will not even pick it up as a drive on finder.

07-12-2017, 07:27 PM
File Vault is great - for ex KGB assassins. You would be amazed the number of times we see your predicament posted. Is the external seen on Disk Utility?

07-12-2017, 08:11 PM
Hi harryb2448

Thank you for answering me. Yes the hard drive is visible as LaCie encrypted disk.

07-12-2017, 09:15 PM
Without a recovery key (as noted by our moderator) and if you've forgotten your FileVault password, I'm afraid your data is unrecoverable. One of the hazards of using FileVault encryption.

07-12-2017, 09:27 PM
So have you tried your login password or iCloud password?

I didn't realize that one could possibly get two chances with the password as Ive never even looked or considered going anywhere near it.

But unfortunately it seems that the OP has got other problems with the "backup" drive than a lack of any working password.

PS: slipstream.st, is the Finder prefs set to show any hard drives??? Finder(menu) > Show these items…

PPS: I guess there's nothing that can help here or is there???

- Patrick

07-12-2017, 09:48 PM
Hi chscag

I am not certain, but have found a long password written down. This may be the recovery key. If it is, should I simply type it in when asked for the password and it should work or is their another procedure I should follow to insert the recovery key?

07-12-2017, 09:50 PM
Hi pm-r

Although things are not looking to good right now, I will leave the thread posted and maybe across the globe someone is able to help.

I will have a look at the link you sent to the apple support page. Thanks

Rod Sprague
07-12-2017, 10:59 PM
The password should be in the form of 4 sets of 4 numerals I think. So 16 digits all up.
To restore the contents of the TM backup to your new device there are a couple of ways available.
You can boot the device from the Restore Partition with the backup drive connected.
Use the Reinstall Operating System option and follow the guides until you reach the "would you like to restore files from a TM backup"
At that point you should be asked for the encryption password. From this point on I'm in the dark. If the password you have is the correct one it may offer to de encrypte the device. It will then display in the options window as available to restore from.
The really disappointing thing here is the lack of support articles on the topic.

07-13-2017, 11:18 AM
Given the paucity of documents from Apple, I would suggest calling the support line and explain the issue. They may be able to talk you through the process, even though they don't have any way to unlock it themselves.

07-13-2017, 11:54 AM
Sorry to hear about the troubles. Generally we recommend not using Filevault encryption for the very reasons stated in this thread. Unless someone is very very organized in regards to passwords & userids...Filevault encryption is NOT for the average person. The average person (unfortunately) does occasionally (or maybe frequently) forget a userid or password. With many systems (webpages) there is a "have you forgotten your password" safety net...where a website can either email you your login info (after the proper security checks)...or a forgotten password can be reset.

This is not the case with Apple's Filevault encryption. Filevault encryption is a serious matter (and serious protection). But no "kindergarden" fooling around with Filevault. You forgot your password...and you're up the creek without a paddle.

As Jake suggested...maybe Apple can help in some way (hopefully).

- Nick

07-13-2017, 12:29 PM
I plug the external hard drive in and it immediately asks me for a password

A thought that is crossing my mind:

File Vault encrypts your Mac. And all of the above have addressed this issue.

But Time Machine (TM) is not normally encrypted unless you choose to do so. Nor is the EHD holding TM.

The fact that immediately the EHD is mounted, there is a PW request, suggests to me that it is the EHD encryption PW that is required.

As I understand things (and my understanding is superficial to say the least) - you should be able to mount your TM EHD and restore from it. The request for "unlocking" File Vault should be when you attempt to access the data.

I could be entirely wrong - but do you remember a PW of your own creation with which you encrypted the EHD?


07-13-2017, 05:18 PM
Reads very much as if the external drive was encrypted using that option when TM was set up. Whilst the drive mounts, the new computer will not be able to access the information. Have never used encryption for reasons that appear here, but if that option was chosen for the EHD, would not the Apple supplied encrypted password be necessary?

07-13-2017, 07:26 PM
Another thought, but a bit on a different tangent, is there any chance to track or retrieve the MacBook Pro via "Find My Mac" and the police etc??

- Patrick

07-13-2017, 08:16 PM
Hi All

I am afraid that at this stage it seems to me that I am up that creek without a paddle. Unless someone has a way of forcing a password find I think this EHD is locked up good and solid. Might as well leave it in a drawer until someone finds a way of breaking through 1024bit encryption.

pm-r in regard to "find my Mac", it was not activated. Unless their is some other way of tracking an apple product then it is well and truly gone. I am sure those that have stolen it have already flattened the HD already to sell it on.

Guys thanks for all the comments and advice. I am now going to have to rebuild all those spreadsheets from scratch.

Thanks again to all of you that have answered the call for help. My e-mail address is on my profile so if anyone has any idea of how I can solve this please contact me.

07-13-2017, 08:44 PM
pm-r in regard to "find my Mac", it was not activated. Unless their is some other way of tracking an apple product then it is well and truly gone. I am sure those that have stolen it have already flattened the HD already to sell it on.

OK, and too bad.

And I don't know where you live. but a lot of places have a lost or stolen website for reporting and hopefully recovering computer and devices, but the serial number is usually needed as well and not too many keep a record of that either. :[

- Patrick