Encrypting your images is a good idea to protect them from being accessed by unauthorized people. But what if you forget the password or lose the key? Problems can even multiply when you have to recover encrypted photos from an SD card, hard drive, SSD, flash drive, Android, or iPhone. You could have many possible reasons to lose your photos, including ransomware.
The problem is perplexing because you’ve lost personal and sensitive photographs safeguarded with (sometimes unknown) encryption software. Thus, in such a situation, can you recover encrypted photos? This guide will help you with how to recover encrypted photos through several methods. But before getting started, let’s look at the causes of losing encrypted photographs.
Common reasons users lose encrypted photos
These are a few problems that cause encrypted images to disappear:
- Forgetting the encryption password: This is the most frequent reason people lose access to their encrypted photos. If you encrypt your photos with software and later forget the password, you cannot decrypt them.
- Losing the encryption key: If you encrypt your photos with software that uses an encryption key, you will not be able to decrypt them if you lose it.
- Ransomware attack: Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files and demands a ransom for decryption. If your photos are encrypted by ransomware, you will need to pay the ransom to get the decryption key. However, there is no guarantee that you will get the key even after giving cash.
- Formatted storage device: If you format your storage device (SD card, hard drive, and so on), any encrypted files are erased.
- Accidental deletion: You may accidentally delete your encrypted photos. Once they are removed, they are gone forever unless you have a backup or use the software below.
Now that you know why people lose their encrypted photos, let’s show you how to recover them. If you’ve lost your encrypted photos for any of the reasons mentioned above, don’t worry, there is still a chance to see them again. These are a handful of techniques you can try yourself to retrieve lost and/or encrypted photos.
Method 1: Recovering encrypted photos via backup
Recover the encrypted pictures that have been lost or deleted from your backup folder. Backups created on a cloud server or an external hard drive are invaluable in such cases. You can recover pictures from your PC using a “Windows File History backup” or any other backup folder or service you may have created or signed up for before. Look for missing photos on Google Photos, Google Drive, or SD cards for Android users, while iOS users can look up for encrypted images on iCloud or iTunes backups or other devices in the ecosystem.
Method 2: Using decryption tools to recover encrypted photos online
You can find several online decryption tools through search engines. They are often free to use and their efficacy depends on the level of encryption. To do so:
- Open the tool in the browser or download it to your machine.
- Upload the encrypted picture file.
- Choose “Decrypt” from the menu.
However, online photo decryption tools are mostly regarded as unsafe, especially when you want to reverse the protection on sensitive photos. You should pick an online decryption tool that is safe and private, even if you have to pay a little for their service.
Method 3: Use Ransomware decryption software for photos
Ransomware can encrypt the files and folders on your computer, making them inaccessible unless you pay a ransom. We already studied how recovering ransomware-affected data works with or without payment. Ufwj ransomware is an example of such a malicious program that caused panic by locking down all the computer’s files without alerting the user. If your pictures are locked due to a ransomware attack, try using the best ransomware decryption applications to decrypt them. The success largely depends on the type othe f ransomware and quality of the software.
Method 4: Use Windows System Restore
System Restore on Windows can help you recover some data and system settings lost or deleted due to a ransomware attack, system update, faulty device driver/app installation, and so on. You can use any available Windows restore points to return your PC to an earlier date containing the lost photographs. System Restore, on the other hand, can be turned off by default in Windows 10. If you had enabled this function, attempt to recover erased encrypted pictures using the techniques outlined below:
- Head to Control Panel in Windows 10 and type recovery in the search box.
- Select Recovery → Open System Restore.
- In the “Restore System” files and settings window, select “Next.”
- Choose from the list of restore points displayed on the screen and select “Scan for affected programs.” This will delete the recently installed programs and drivers.
- Press Next → Finish.
Check to see whether your photos have been recovered and if you can view them again.
Method 5: Download encrypted data recovery software for images
If none of the above methods work, you can use a file encryption data recovery program. Generally, recovery tools offer support for both Mac and Windows computers. However, some specialize in encrypted data, letting you retrieve encrypted photographs. This covers accidental deletion, file format changes, storage drive damage, and other issues, and image formats like JPEG, PNG, BMP, and others. The following steps demonstrate recovering encrypted photos using the Wondershare Recoverit Recovery tool, though we have no affiliation.
- Download Wondershare Recoverit for Windows or Mac.
- Launch the program and select the drive under the Device tab to choose the photos’ general location.
- Proceed to the application’s Start button to start the scanning process.
- If a general scan reveals nothing, go to the “Advanced Scan” option. Recoverit will then perform an in-depth search of the selected location to reveal all deleted files. (You can also use the filter option if you know the exact names of your photos).
- Preview and select the photos you intend to recover.
- Finally, you can recover the encrypted file immediately by pressing the Recover button. Leave the file path as default or pick a custom one, and data will be sent there.