How to recover your emails and other encrypted files after a password reset (data recovery)

If you reset your Proton password by email or phone, you won’t be able to read your existing emails and other encrypted files due to the encryption that we use. Note that this only happens when you reset your password by email or phone (i.e., when you forget it) and not when you change your password

Here we explain how you can recover your encrypted data after resetting your password by email or phone. Note that if you reset your password using your recovery phrase, you’ll automatically restore full access to your existing messages and other encrypted data.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Note if you’re using two-password mode

The default password setting in ProtonMail is one-password mode.

If you use two-password mode with one password to sign in to your ProtonMail account and a second password to decrypt your mailbox, resetting either of these passwords will revert your account to one-password mode. It will make your existing emails and other encrypted data unreadable.

As with one-password mode, you can follow the steps below to recover your data if you know your mailbox password or have set a data recovery method.

“Data locked” warning to recover your data

If some of your data is encrypted and needs to be recovered after a password reset, we warn you in the web app: An orange warning dot appears next to Recovery on the Settings page, and the Data locked card appears.

Data locked warning card

Click on the Unlock data button to use one of the three data recovery methods below.

Recovering your data if you still remember your password

1. Go to Settings Go to settingsRecovery and click on the Unlock data button on the Data locked warning card.

Data locked warning card

2. Click on the Password tab, enter your previous password in the space provided.

Recover data password tab

3. Click Recover data and enter your current password when prompted.

Recovering your data using your recovery phrase

1. Go to Settings Go to settingsRecovery and click on the Unlock data button on the Data locked warning card.

Data locked warning card

2. Click on the Phrase tab and enter your 12-word recovery phrase in the space provided. You must enter the 12 words that make up your recovery phrase in the same order they were given to you.

Recover data phrase tab

3. Click Recover data and enter your current password when prompted.

Recovering your data using your recovery file

1. Go to Settings Go to settingsRecovery and click on the Unlock data button on the Data locked warning card.

Data locked warning card

2. Click on the File tab and upload your recovery file. Alternatively, you can upload an encryption key that you’ve previously downloaded.

Recover data file tab

3. Click Recover data and enter your current password when prompted.

Please note that you’re not meant to open and read your recovery file. Unlike your recovery phrase, which is made up of 12 words you can write down or copy, your recovery file is an encrypted file. You can download it, store it in a safe place, and upload it as described above to restore your encrypted emails and other encrypted data when needed. It’s not designed for you to open and read it.

Reactivate keys: alternative way to restore your data

You can also recover your encrypted data by using the Reactivate keys button.

1. Go to Settings Go to settingsProtonMail → Encryption and keys.

2. Click on the Reactivate keys button.

Reactivate keys button

3. Choose one of the three tabs (Phrase/Password/File) and enter a recovery phrase or previous password or upload a recovery file. Note that on the File tab you can upload a recovery file or encryption keys that you’ve previously downloaded.

Recover data dialogue box showing phrase, password, and file tabs

3. Click Recover data.

Note that if you reset your password multiple times, you may need to try all your previous passwords until you find the right password to reactivate the remaining keys.

Learn how to download your public and private encryption keys

Learn how to upload your backup private encryption key