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I have a dual boot Windows/Linux machine that I am doing a full revamp of. After saving my personal files, I wiped the 1 TB drive and did a clean install of Windows 10. I have reduced the Windows partition to 120 GB and now I want to add a 80 GB /root partition for Linux and a /home partition with all the remaining space (plus a 4 GB swap partition). If I encrypt the /home partition during install, will I still be able to access the files in it if in the future I do a new install of Ubuntu (or if I try another distro like Mint, Peppermint, Elementary, etc.) and re-adopt the /home partition? Or is it safer in this scenario to not encrypt /home? Are there any special steps I need to take to re-access the encrypted /home if I install a new distro in the future?

  • Encrypt just your own user's home folder? Or an entire partition? I think the Ubuntu installer can do either/both, but the whole partition may be the root/system partition – Xen2050 Dec 9 '15 at 7:49
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Yes you will be able to access to your data of course.

There are many way of doing that and I am going to suggest you 2 here.

1) You decrypt your home partition before re-installation and you can do this by using the following command:

 #ecryptfs-setup-private --undo

Here is the step by step about how to remove the decryption from your home.

  http://rayslinux.blogspot.ie/2011/01/caught-out-by-being-overzealous-remove.html

I tried myself and it worked for me.

2) You can install your system and choose /home partition the existing one by de-selecting to format the partition and that will basically take it as your /home, but you will still need to access to it as it is encrypted.

   #ecryptfs-unwrap-passphrase
   #ecryptfs-recover-private

are the 2 main tools that you will work with. You can find different how-to's about this but here is the step by step one:

   http://www.howtogeek.com/116297/how-to-recover-an-encrypted-home-directory-on-ubuntu/

There are many other ways to do that but the easier way would be of course to remove the encyrption before re-installation.

| improve this answer | |
  • From the Q it's not clear, but it sounds like the OP might be asking about a whole dm-crypt/LUKS encrypted home partition. But, I don't think the Ubuntu installer does that easily, I think it does use eCryptFS to encrypt just individual homes. – Xen2050 Dec 9 '15 at 7:33
  • Hey Xen2050, I guess I was actually thinking about the whole /home partition but not for any real reason. An encrypted home folder with the partition is all I really need and that makes sense to me now that I think about it more. I will try one of ostendali's methods. – Rick Shortt Dec 9 '15 at 14:50

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