Passphrase prompted for access on formatted external USB disk
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Passphrase prompted for access on formatted external USB disk


Article ID: 153248


Updated On:


Symantec Products


This answer relates to the ability to re-use an external USB hard disk when attempting to format an encrypted disk. If a passphrase has been forgotten or the user who encrypted of the disk is no longer available, the disk is not able to be formatted and continues to prompt for the passphrase of the disk.

The purpose of the answer will provide the steps to format and re-use the previously encrypted hard disk.



After formatting a previously encrypted disk, the PGP passphrase dialogue continues to display requesting the user to enter the passphrase to access the disk. The procedure described below may be necessary in cases where the passphrase of the encrypted disk has been forgotten or the user of the encrypted disk is no longer available.

This answer will describe the process to gain the ability to reuse a formatted USB external hard disk after it has been encrypted.


Note:This answer pertains to all USB external hard disks and PGP Desktop. Please make sure that you have a backup of the drive before proceeding as listed below.

In order to reuse a previously encrypted USB hard disk, please perform the steps listed below to overwrite the Master Boot Record of the USB external hard disk.


Overwrite the PGP Master Boot Record (MBR)


  1. Attach the USB hard disk to a PC with PGP Desktop installed.
  2. Open a command prompt and navigate to the following directory: C:\Program Files\PGP Corporation\PGP Desktop
  3. Enter the command pgpwde --fixmbr --disk 1 (the disk number for the external disk can be determined by using the pgpwde --enum command from the same directory.)

After the command is executed, the MBR of the external USB drive will be restored to its pre-PGP state and the user will no longer be prompted with the PGP passphrase dialogue.