December 22, 2017
Why can’t I reset my password to open my files?
Our support people relatively frequently get questions, demands and sometimes even harsh words about why a forgotten password means loss of information.
This is what encryption is about, and what it’s all about!
Contrary to for example your email, when you use a password with AxCrypt to encrypt or decrypt files, it’s not used to control your access to the files. Your email provider uses your password to verify that it’s actually you signing in, and if you provide the right password, the software has been programmed to allow the access. If you enter the wrong password, it’ll deny the access. It’s just software making decisions based on the password you provide.
With encryption it’s different.
Encryption takes your password, and then uses it as a controlling parameter to a very complex algorithm that transforms your file to something completely different. If it’s good encryption (and AxCrypt is) the result will be such that nothing about the original content can be derived except a little bit about the size. Not even the size can very reliably be determined from an AxCrypt-encrypted file, since it also applies compression before encryption.
An encrypted file is actually ‘physically’ transformed using encryption. After encryption, the file is completely different from the original. The only way to transform it back to the original content, is to apply the encryption in reverse. In order to do this, the correct password must be supplied.
There is no software making a decision, comparing the provided password with the correct one. The software just simply tries to apply the decryption algorithm using the provided password. Before encrypting, some special values are added to the data, so when trying the decryption, the software can decide if the result is the correct one or not – but that’s the only ‘decision’ the software makes, and changing that does not change the fact.
Either the decryption works because the correct password was given, or it does not work because the wrong password was used.
With AxCrypt, we don’t know your password.
To decrypt a file, you must know the password.
If you have encrypted a file, and subsequently lose the password, the file contents are lost.
It’s as simple as that.
Do not forget or lose your password!
If this is not what you’re looking for, you should not be using encryption.