I know, this has been asked and answered all over the internet already. However, I start feeling stupid, since the informations there are not helping me.

Just this morning, I wanted to install the newest update to 13.10. After the download, when it came to the actual installing, the install program froze and didn't do anything for hours.

At that time, I was still logged in. The computer was working and everything was accessible to me. However, I made the mistake and didn't immediately make safety copies of everything.

Instead, I just rebooted.

Long story short: My computer even fails to reset to a previous version via Grub. But I am able to boot from a USB stick and, after starting Nautilus, I see my home folder on the HD. I would now like to copy its contents onto an external hard disk.

  • Problem 1: I have no rights to access the folder like that.
  • Problem 2: It is encrypted.
  • Problem 3: I don't know how to give myself the rights to access the folder nor do I know how to encrypt it.

I assume that it might help that I still know these things:

  • my old login name
  • my old login phrase
  • a 32 characters long string of hexadecimal numbers that I copied to my list of passwords as "Ubuntu Encryption Code". I copied it digitally right after installing Ubuntu the first time and encrypting the home folder, so there won't be any typos. I am sure of that.

The solutions that I saw so far, tell me that I need the "encryption phrase".

However, when I follow the instructions and use this phrase that I have in my list, I only get messages of denial.

Can anyone help me through this special problem, please?


I basically followed this tutorial step by step and then some. For the case that this other site will vanish in the future, I copy the basics here:

  1. Start the computer with a live CD.

  2. Start the terminal and run:

    sudo ecryptfs-recover-private

    My system was now searching for an encrypted directory. This took about 10 minutes. Maybe five. I didn't watch the whole time.

  3. When it is done, you are asked if you want to try to recover the directory. The directory has the username somewhere in it. I affirmed and went on.

  4. In the next step, I was asked for my login passphrase. That one I still had. So I entered it.

  5. After a few seconds, my encrypted directory with all my treasures in it was mounted in the /tmp/ directory. But I still wasn't able to access it simply with a file manager. So I ran nautilus with root rights by pressing Alt+F2 and entering:

    gksu nautilus

Like this, I could open the folder in /tmp/ and copy everything onto my external hard drive.

  • You can also sudo chown -R "$USER" the mount point and work with your regular Nautilus from there. – David Foerster Oct 19 '13 at 13:46

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