Restored laptop, didn't back up keys. Now can't decrypt messages.

Tommy's Avatar


07 Nov, 2017 05:03 PM

Hello Support, I hope this message finds you well.

Here is my problem:

I wiped my laptop to factory settings, without thinking about the process of GPGKeychain and what it would entail to retrieve my same keys. Foolishly, I thought I would be able to sign in some how via email.

It has come to my attention that the keys needed to be backed up in order for me to sign in again (please correct me if I’m wrong). As such, I can not enter my account on GPG, and thus decrypt messages. The issue is quite urgent and nonetheless a little frustrating.

I have not attached a photo as I believe with the above being said, the picture is quite clear, however if instructed to do so, I can’t as I am now having software issues with said laptop (it’s one of those weeks).

Thank you for taking the time to view this and supply an answer.

Kind Regards.

Describe steps leading to the problem.

  • Restored laptop back to factory settings
  • Didn’t back up keys
  • Now can’t decrypt any messages.
  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Steve on 08 Nov, 2017 04:40 PM

    Steve's Avatar

    Hi Tommy,

    welcome to the GPGTools support platform. Sorry you are having problems using GPG Suite.

    Do you have any backup of your mac prior to restoring it?

    This KB article explains your options, in case you lost access to your secret key or password.

    Take your time to go through that KB article, especially the section about Lost access to secret key or password. The other important section is 3. Revoke key: "If your key was created with GPG Suite 2015.06 or later, a revocation certificate can be found at ~/.gnupg/RevCerts. In that case revocation is easy." That section has exact steps how to proceed in that case.

    But since you completely wiped your mac, the revocation certificate will be gone as well. Without the secret key, you will be unable to decrypt any messages encrypted with the corresponding public key part.

    If you are positive there is no backup, your best bet will be to create a new key and share that new key with your friends.

    We'd highly recommend setting up some backup infrastructure to prevent such situations in the future.

    OpenPGP is not a web-service you sign into. The keys are generated locally on your mac. We are not storing nor do we have access to any of your key information.

    Let me know if you have further questions or need assistance moving forward.


  2. Support Staff 2 Posted by Steve on 26 Feb, 2018 02:05 PM

    Steve's Avatar

    Closing, since no further user feedback was received. Should your problem persist, feel free to re-open this discussion any time.

    All the best, steve

  3. Steve closed this discussion on 26 Feb, 2018 02:05 PM.

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