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How to stop using built-in home directory encryption?

During installation I have chosen to encrypt my user's home folder.

Can I un-encrypt it? How would I do that? I just want it to be "normal" again.

  • I should ask: why would you want to do this? Encrypted or unencrypted, it makes no difference to operations except your stuff isn't plastered across the Internet because some hacker found it.
    – Mei
    Feb 24, 2012 at 20:33
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    @David Its messing up some services I need to run after login, I am sure its the encryption on the home folder since same version in a vbox without encryption where I do my tests on runs perfect. I can try to fix the service scripts with delays or simply remove something I do not need on this machine. Feb 24, 2012 at 20:41
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    I thought that might be it. The reason for the problems is that the encrypted home is actually only mounted (or decrypted) after you log in; it uses your log in password to decrypt your home. If you are not logged in, then your home directory is inaccessible entirely.
    – Mei
    Feb 24, 2012 at 20:44
  • @David Agree, that's why of the question. Feb 24, 2012 at 20:47
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    I realize I'm late, but the reason I'm running into is the 143 character limit in filenames. Copying my Music directory from a non-encrypted filesystem is leading to hundreds of errors. Aug 4, 2014 at 4:06

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can. The short and dirty description of how to do it is this:

  1. Copy your files out of your home directory to another (unencrypted) location.
  2. Move or remove the encrypted home directory out of the way.
  3. Restore your files.

The actual process is more complicated than this. The Ubuntu Documentation assumes you've already moved your data without telling you how; this description from Virtually Machine shows you how.

In short:

  1. Log in as root.
  2. Move the encrypted home directory so it mounts not on the home directory, but on a directory called Private in your home directory.
  3. Move everything out of the ~/Private directory into ~.
  4. Remove ecryptfs if desired.

See Virtually Machine for more specifics.

I would recommend logging out and back in just after the move: this makes sure everything is updated in your environment and so on.

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