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Disable Encrypted File System In Windows 10

From Windows 2000 onwards on supported editions, a native encryption tool named Encrypting File System (EFS), allows you to securely encrypt files and folders, thus keep them safe from unauthorized access. This also means that other users sharing your PC, can do the very same and encrypt as many files as they please. As such, In this tutorial, I will show you how to securely disable EFS In Windows 10.

Before I begin, here's what I'm referring to. When you encrypt a file or folder using the Windows built-In Encrypting File System tool, It's Identified as such (encrypted), by the green text In the file/folder name as per the Image below.

The problem Is, If other users have encrypted your files & folders and your user account password Is reset (Intentional or otherwise), you'll lose access to every EFS encrypted file & folder on your computer. The same applies If the EFS file encryption certificate and key corrupts.

If you do not Intend to utilize the Encrypting File System and want It disabled altogether, I will demonstrate how to do this, by using the Windows built-In Local Security Policy. Do note, that EFS Is only supported In Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions. So without further delay, let's rip Into this tutorial.

Step One:

To access the Local Security Policy, open the Run menu, enter secpol.msc and hit OK.

Step Two:

Next, navigate to the following directory.
Security Settings -> Public Key Policies -> Encrypting File System

Then right-click on Encrypting File System, and hit Properties.

Step Three:

Select the Don't allow radio button, and click OK to finalize the process.

Step Four:

EFS Is now securely disabled. Let's put It to the test, by attempting to encrypt a file. In my case, I've right-clicked my file named Windows 10 Tips, and hit Properties.

Step Five:

Now simply click the Advanced button as shown below.

Step Six:

Check the Encrypt contents to secure data checkbox, and then hit OK.

Step Seven:

To finish off the encryption, hit Apply and OK.

Step Eight:

As you can see and as expected, an error message of This machine Is disabled for file encryption has been returned. Perfect! Essentially, users cannot use EFS to encrypt files & folders.

Final Thoughts:

Whilst the Encrypting File System (EFS), serves It's purpose quite well to prevent unauthorized access to your files & folders via other user accounts, It can also work against you, If your password Is reset or the EFS file encryption certificate and key corrupts, disabling It altogether, prevents this In It's entirety.


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