My computer recently failed and I'm now trying to recover files off my external SATA SSD via LiveUSB.

  • I don't remember encrypting my computer, but I'm receiving the ACCESS_YOUR_.... file when navigating to the partitions home folder through terminal
  • Using sudo ecryptfs-mount-private gives the error Encrypted private directory not setup properly
  • I then use sudo ecrpytfs-recover-private and it finds the encrypted folder that I am trying to access
  • I choose to login with my passphrase but always receive the error Unwrapping password and inserting into user session keyring failed [-5]

The thing is, I know that I am entering the correct login passphrase for this account. I only use one or two passphrases to get in, and I've tried every single password that I can think of using in the last few years.

Is there anything that I could be missing that would be causing this to happen? I'm stumped and cannot understand why I can't get in. I do not have my mount passphrase, and really need the files off this computer.

Possibly relevant: this SSD is unable to be booted in the Lenovo computer that I took it from, but it does show up on both OS X and via USB. Could the configuration have gotten messed up somehow? My computer shut down randomly one day and simply refuses to boot into the SSD partition from the bootloader, although it does see it.

What steps can I take to further diagnose this problem and get into my folder? I am willing to try everything and will report back with outputs. Any help is very appreciated, and I will throw btc to anybody that can help me out. Thank you.


First of all, if I remember correctly you have to check a box to install Ubuntu with an encrypted home directory, but I could be wrong. It certainly looks like it's encrypted.

Secondly, the bad news: if you encrypted the home directory at boot, it doesn't use your account password, but a separate pass phrase. After you first booted a pop up comes up with the question if you want to backup your encryption pass phrase for the home directory, recommending you get save it somewhere safe. There is a way to get the password at a later stage, but only if you can access it, so before anything goes wrong with your system. If you don't have the pass phrase, the only possible way to get it back is by brute forcing it, which, at the moment, is practically impossible.

Now that I think of it, after writing the previous text, if you made regular backups, you should be able get the key back. Did you make backups?


Just test this answer and it works to get the pass phrase on a still working system, but you should save it somewhere safe, of course. :D


So I just looked further into it and if:

  • you have a backup of your old home files AND;

  • it included the ~/.ecryptfs folder with the wrapped-passphrase file

you can unlock it with the command:

ecryptfs-unwrap-passphrase /path/to/wrapped-passphrase

It will ask for a password. This is the account password you said you remember correctly. It should give you a output of seemingly random characters: this is the pass phrase to unlock the home partition.

I hope you still have that file backed up. Let me know if you run into any problems.

  • I used the passphrase from ecryptfs-unwrap-passphrase /path/to/wrapped-passphrase to change my passphrase with ecryptfs-rewrap-passphrase but it did'nt work! Am I doing something wrong?
    – Cirelli94
    Dec 2 '16 at 16:36

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