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How To Disable NTFS File Encryption

From Windows 2000 onward 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 disable NTFS file encryption In Windows 10.

Before I begin, here's what I'm referring to In terms of encrypting files and folders using the Windows native Encrypting File System (EFS) utility. Right-click a file/folder, select Properties > Advanced, and simply check the Encrypt contents to secure data checkbox as shown below.

The files/folders will now be encrypted, and 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.

To prevent users (who have physical access to your PC) from encrypting your files and folders, I will demonstrate how to securely disable NTFS file encryption, by using the good old Group Policy Editor. Do note that the GPE Is only available In Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions.

If you're running either of the above editions, then this tutorial Is for you. So without further delay, let's get this started.

Step One:

To access the Group Policy Editor, open the Run menu, enter gpedit.msc and hit OK.

Step Two:

The Group Policy Editor will now launch, so navigate to the following directory.
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Filesystem > NTFS

Make sure the NTFS folder Is selected, and on the right pane, double-click Do not allow encryption on all NTFS volumes.

Step Three:

To the left of the window, click the Enabled radio button and then hit OK to finalize the process. The NTFS file encryption has now been disabled. We'll check It out In the next few steps.

Step Four:

Let's make sure the change has taken effect. Firstly, I've right-clicked my folder named Windows 10 Tips, and then selected Properties.

Step Five:

Now I've simply hit the Advanced button as shown below.

Last Step:

As you can see and as expected, the Encrypt contents to secure data option Is grayed out, hence users cannot encrypt files and folders using the Encrypting File System (EFS) utility. Perfect!

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. Moreover and as already mentioned, It prevents users who're sharing your computer from applying It.

If you've changed your mind and want to reverse the process, refer to Step Three above, select the Not Configured radio button and click OK.


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