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I have a machine that has McAfee SafeBoot Whole Disk Encryption on it. If I don't have the safeboot password, can I boot from a OS installation disk, format the disk and reinstall the OS? Will that corrupt my Master Boot Record since that is also encrypted?

Follow-up: I was able to boot from CD, format the disk and reinstall the OS

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

"Whole Disk" encryption is a little misleading in a way - in a pure software implementation such as SafeBoot there must always be an unencrypted MBR and some form of Pre-boot Authentication within an unencrypted partition on the disk. A better technical description would be "Whole Partition" encryption - though that wouldn't appeal to management types who don't need to know the distinction!

If you erase all partitions on your disk, repartition and reformat, you effectively erase the PBA and all data in the OS partition. You will lose all data (as with any other reformat operation), but you will be able to convert the disk back to an unencrypted state.

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I don't know anything about McAfee SafeBoot, but formatting the drive and reinstalling the OS will wipe out the MBR and create a new one (assuming that McAfee SafeBoot doesn't prevent you from doing that).

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Indeed. only the data on the hard drive it's encrypted. –  Luciano Facchinelli Aug 18 '11 at 15:43

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