Need to remove PGP Whole Disk Encryption from a Mac | Dafacto

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Need to remove PGP Whole Disk Encryption from a Mac

10 October 2015

In dire frustration, I just posted the following to the Symantec forums:

I have a mid-2011 iMac, with an SSD startup drive. At some point during the lifetime of this Mac, I installed—and thought I uninstalled—PGP Whole Disk Encryption. Certainly the startup drive has not been encrypted for years.

It’s now 2015, and I can’t upgrade this Mac to OS X 10.11. When I try to reboot the machine after an upgrade, the strike-through circle is shown, indicating that there’s no OS installed. The problem, I’m discovered, is related to this:

Apparently, the startup partition is of a scheme type:


Trying a clean install, I’ve determined that no combination of disk formatting or re-partitioning using Apple’s Disk Uitilities can fix this. It seems the disk is instrumented with WDE in a way that simply can’t be removed.

Trying to get this solved through Symantec support is a nightmare — the support portals have been migrated so many times since 2011, that the account information I see when logging in makes no sense. And just like the work-flow for posting in this forum—PGP for Mac isn’t listed, and I have no idea what “community” to choose—all of Symantec seems designed for large corporation IT departments, rather than individual consumers.

The last PGP product I owned, was licensed back in 2011.

I’m hoping with this post, that someone here might be able to help me figure out how to get PGP definitely off this drive, so that I can upgrade the operating system. Thanks so much in advance.

Best regards,

Matt Henderson

Update — Symantec support on Twitter hooked me up with a great support engineer at Symantec named Mike Ankeny. His suggestion was:

  1. Boot to the OS X installer.
  2. Open the terminal utility.
  3. Run the following command in terminal: fdisk -u /dev/disk0
  4. Install OS X or restore from backup.
  5. Boot the system.

Can clarified that the reason for doing this was:

That command is actually going to rewrite the entire boot sector. The partition showing as com_pgp_wde_GUIDPartitionScheme_v2 is a false positive. The actual issue comes from an incomplete uninstall of PGP. The boot partition still retains some PGP flags, which try to redicrect the boot to the PGP configuration files, which no longer exist, so no operating system is found. Even though new boot information is written to the disk, the PGP data stuck in there gets in the way. A standard reinstall of OS X does not clear the boot partition first. After clearing the boot sector and reinstalling OS X, you should be back to a normal partition scheme.

I tried this, and ran into an error:

Could not open MBR file /usr/standalone/i386/boot0: 
No such file or directory. Do you wish to write new MBR? [n]

I answered the second with “y”, hit return, and was returned to the prompt. Running the fdisk command again resulted in the same thing. All my data remained on the disk, and so it seems nothing was done to the disk.

So I’m waiting for Mike to follow up.

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