TrueCrypt Rescue Disk
During the process of preparing the encryption of a system partition/drive, TrueCrypt requires that you create a so-called TrueCrypt Rescue Disk (CD/DVD), which serves the following purposes:
- If the TrueCrypt Boot Loader screen does not appear after you start your computer (or if Windows does not boot), the TrueCrypt Boot Loader may be damaged. The TrueCrypt Rescue Disk allows you restore it and thus to regain access to your encrypted system and data (however, note that you will still have to enter the correct password then). In the Rescue Disk screen, select Repair Options > Restore TrueCrypt Boot Loader. Then press 'Y' to confirm the action, remove the Rescue Disk from your CD/DVD drive and restart your computer.
- If the TrueCrypt Boot Loader is frequently damaged (for example, by inappropriately designed activation software) or if you do not want the TrueCrypt boot loader to reside on the hard drive (for example, if you want to use an alternative boot loader/manager for other operating systems), you can boot directly from the TrueCrypt Rescue Disk (as it contains the TrueCrypt boot loader too) without restoring the boot loader to the hard drive. Just insert your Rescue Disk into your CD/DVD drive and then enter your password in the Rescue Disk screen.
- If you repeatedly enter the correct password but TrueCrypt says that the password is incorrect, it is possible that the master key or other critical data are damaged. The TrueCrypt Rescue Disk allows you to restore them and thus to regain access to your encrypted system and data (however, note that you will still have to enter the correct password then). In the Rescue Disk screen, select Repair Options > Restore key data. Then enter your password, press 'Y' to confirm the action, remove the Rescue Disk from your CD/DVD drive, and restart your computer.
Note: This feature cannot be used to restore the header of a hidden volume within which a hidden operating system resides. To restore such a volume header, click Select Device, select the partition behind the decoy system partition, click OK, select Tools > Restore Volume Header and then follow the instructions.
WARNING: By restoring key data using a TrueCrypt Rescue Disk, you also restore the password that was valid when the TrueCrypt Rescue Disk was created. Therefore, whenever you change the password, you should destroy your TrueCrypt Rescue Disk and create a new one (select System -> Create Rescue Disk).
Otherwise, if an attacker knows your old password (for example, captured by a keystroke logger) and if he then finds your old TrueCrypt Rescue Disk, he could use it to restore the key data (the master key encrypted with the old password) and thus decrypt your system partition/drive
- If Windows is damaged and cannot start, the TrueCrypt Rescue Disk allows you to permanently decrypt the partition/drive before Windows starts. In the Rescue Disk screen, select Repair Options > Permanently decrypt system partition/drive. Enter the correct password and wait until decryption is complete. Then you can e.g. boot your MS Windows setup CD/DVD to repair your Windows installation. Note that this feature cannot be used to decrypt a hidden volume within which a hidden operating system resides.
Alternatively, if Windows is damaged (cannot start) and you need to repair it (or access files on it), you can avoid decrypting the system partition/drive by following these steps: Boot another operating system, run TrueCrypt, click Select Device, select the affected system partition, select System > Mount Without Pre-Boot Authentication, enter your pre-boot-authentication password and click OK. The partition will be mounted as a regular TrueCrypt volume (data will be on-the-fly decrypted/encrypted in RAM on access, as usual).
- Your TrueCrypt Rescue Disk contains a backup of the original content of the first drive track (made before the TrueCrypt Boot Loader was written to it) and allows you to restore it if necessary. The first track of a boot drive typically contains a system loader or boot manager. In the Rescue Disk screen, select Repair Options > Restore original system loader.
Note that even if you lose your TrueCrypt Rescue Disk and an attacker finds it, he or she will not be able to decrypt the system partition or drive without the correct password.
To boot a TrueCrypt Rescue Disk, insert it into your CD/DVD drive and restart your computer. If the TrueCrypt Rescue Disk screen does not appear (or if you do not see the 'Repair Options' item in the 'Keyboard Controls' section of the screen), it is possible that your BIOS is configured to attempt to boot from hard drives before CD/DVD drives. If that is the case, restart your computer, press F2 or Delete (as soon as you see a BIOS start-up screen), and wait until a BIOS configuration screen appears. If no BIOS configuration screen appears, restart (reset) the computer again and start pressing F2 or Delete repeatedly as soon as you restart (reset) the computer. When a BIOS configuration screen appears, configure your BIOS to boot from the CD/DVD drive first (for information on how to do so, please refer to the documentation for your BIOS/motherboard or contact your computer vendor's technical support team for assistance). Then restart your computer. The TrueCrypt Rescue Disk screen should appear now. Note: In the TrueCrypt Rescue Disk screen, you can select 'Repair Options' by pressing F8 on your keyboard.
If your TrueCrypt Rescue Disk is damaged, you can create a new one by selecting System > Create Rescue Disk. To find out whether your TrueCrypt Rescue Disk is damaged,
insert it into your CD/DVD drive and select System > Verify Rescue Disk.