I am trying to work out how to recover the data from the hard drive that was in my old laptop. It was running the latest ubuntu and I am now running Ubuntu satanic 11.04 as i do not like 11.10. Uhe drive was encrypted and I have it now in an external usb drive enclosure.

I have tried chown and advanced chown and still it is not showing me the contents of the home folder. I am starting to be at a loss what to do as there is quite a large amount of data on there that is pretty important to me.

The old OS is pretty irrelevant and I will be using the drive for a backup once I can get the data recovered. It was the graphics that died on the old laptop.


If you don't have the key that is given after the creation of the encrypted volume there would be no way to restore the data. Otherwise the encryption would fail to fulfill it's purpose.

However...if you somehow still have access to the previous installation that used the encrypted volume you would be able to extract the needed key.

Edit #1:

Here is how you can retrieve the passphrase of a encrypted homedrive.

Step 1: Switch to the metadata directory of encryptfs

If your encrypted folder is ~/Private

$>sudo cd /home/<username>/.ecryptfs

If that fails (i.e. directory does not exist) try the following directory that is used when you chose to encrypt the complete home directory.

$>sudo cd /home/.ecryptfs/<username>/.ecryptfs

Step 2: unwrap the passphrase (it is encrypted with your user account password)

$>sudo ecryptfs-unwrap-passphrase wrapped-passphrase
passphrase: <user password>

You now have the passphrase that was used to encrypt your data.


If you can find the .ecryptfs folder on your old volume you would be able extract the old ecryptfs passphrase from the metadata using the old users password.

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