Imaging a laptop with bitlocker turned on


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cdorling
cdorling
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I've successfully used and restored from a free version of Reflect on a Windows 10 pc and I've just bought a Home Edition 64bit 4 pack which I've also installed on a new HP Windows 10 laptop.
I created a windows boot menu, but on reboot all I see is a black screen for a few seconds before it boots into windows. If I click in a certain area of the black screen Reflect will load, so I have an invisible boot menu! I googled black boot menus and saw a suggested solution which I tried (sorry I forget what it was now!) but was told the laptop would not let me make a change as it said bitlocker was switched on. I'd never heard of bitlocker before, I see it is on my desktop pc but turned off. So a couple of questions if I may:-
1) I want to start making a system image and an image of some folder. Bitlocker was ticked under advanced for WIM option when I made a windows boot menu and also a rescue usb. Will I be able to restore images if bitlocker is on?
2) Is there a way to stop the boot menu showing as all black?
I've read through the forum and guide but I'm an oldie and can't spot an answer.. even if one's there Smile

jphughan
jphughan
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I use BitLocker for my Windows partition and the recovery boot menu and don't have an issue with either.  I'm not sure what you already tried for the invisible boot menu, but note that the menu itself is Windows Boot Manager, which is a purely Microsoft entity, NOT a Macrium entity.  Enabling the recovery boot menu option in Reflect simply causes that menu to appear since there's now a second option in Windows Boot Manager beyond the default and normally only option of booting into the OS normally.  Anyhow, one fix that's worked for me on systems that have exhibited this issue has been to force Windows to use the legacy interface rather than the modern interface.  It's all text and no graphics, and it doesn't support mouse or touch input if that's important to you, but it tends to work more reliably since it has fewer dependencies on graphics capabilities and drivers.  If you want to do that, enter this in an elevated Command Prompt within Windows:

bcdedit /set "{current}" bootmenupolicy legacy


If you ever want to go back, change the "legacy" parameter in the above command to "standard".

As for making images and restoring images of BitLocker partitions, Macrium has an excellent KB article about this here.

Finally, note that you cannot make an image backup of a folder.  You can only make images of partitions.  If you want to back up a folder, use Reflect's File & Folder backup feature.

Edited 24 February 2021 5:29 PM by jphughan
cdorling
cdorling
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That's a quick and helpful answer, many thanks jphughan. The term "legacy" rings a bell, it may have been that which I tried yesterday and which Bitlocker stymied. I have a usb rescue stick and I know roughly where to click on the Windows Boot Manager black screen so, if I've understood correctly, I can achieve my aim of simply making system images of the bitlocked laptop to a (non bitlocked) external hard drive and (should it ever be necessary) I could successfully restore a system image without ever worrying about bitlocker and any keys again.

I'm hoping that's the case as, having had another bash at the KB article its 3 options are a bit beyond me, sorry. So, if my understanding above is incorrect do let me know and I'll just turn bitlocker off. 

Apologies about calling a folder backup an image, that's a new facility to me that I'm looking forward to using.


jphughan
jphughan
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BitLocker shouldn't have interfered with you customizing the boot menu style, although you do need to do that while running Windows, not while booted in Rescue or some other recovery environment.

In terms of your question about a USB stick and the boot menu option, you appear to be confusing two different things.  The recovery boot menu option that you click causes your system to boot into the Rescue environment by using the Rescue Media files cached on your C drive.  It does NOT rely on a USB flash drive or an optical disc.  That is the main reason the option exists, in order to give people a way to use Rescue without having to insert external media every time.  However, the boot menu option's reliance on files existing on your C drive creates a liability, because there are all sorts of scenarios where those files might not exist or might not be readable.  That is why it should only ever be seen as a convenience, not as a primary recovery mechanism.  By comparison, "external" Rescue Media on a flash drive or optical disc has no dependency on anything existing on the internal disk, and therefore you ALWAYS want to have that even if you use the boot menu option as your primary mechanism for convenience.  But there's no requirement to use the boot menu option.  You can rely on "external" Rescue Media as your sole recovery mechanism if you wish.  But the key point there is that you have to know how to tell your system to boot from a USB device.  That is NOT achieved through the boot menu that you can't see.  If your system has already loaded Windows Boot Manager to present that (in your case invisible) interface, then it has already booted from the hard drive.  On most PCs, there's a key that you can press during initial startup that will bring up a firmware-level boot menu that will allow you to choose to boot from a USB device for that specific boot, rather than having to muck around with a boot order in your BIOS Setup.  I would definitely make sure you know how to do that, because it is crucial knowledge in a variety of failure scenarios.

In terms of BitLocker, if you built your Rescue Media with the option to not only include BitLocker support, but also add auto-unlock keys, then yes your backups and restores will work normally.  If you don't embed those, then the Windows partition will be "locked" in the Rescue environment.  In that case, you would still be able to run a restore, but that would require Reflect to destroy the entire existing partition and then restore the partition in unencrypted form, so you'd have to enable BitLocker manually afterward.  Reflect will show a warning about this if it's about to do that.  The much better way is to run a restore while the target (your Windows partition) is unlocked in Rescue, either due to the embedded auto-unlock files or you doing so manually.  In that case, the existing BitLocker encryption will be preserved, and you'll also be able to use Rapid Delta Restore, which is a feature of paid Reflect that can drastically cut down restore times, since in that case Reflect can analyze the backup you're restoring, analyze the current state of the destination, and essentially just modify the destination as needed to make it match the backup you chose to restore, rather than having to wipe out the destination and restore everything.  If you're trying to restore a recent backup of a large Windows partition, RDR can mean the restore takes a few minutes rather than a few hours.

And as a final point, if your Windows partition uses BitLocker and your external drive doesn't, you may want to consider enabling Reflect's own encryption, which you can specify by clicking the "Advanced Options" link in the lower-left corner of the job wizard, so that your data remains encrypted even on your unencrypted external drive.  Or if you only need to use that external drive with Windows systems, you could of course enable BitLocker on the entire external drive.  And for convenience, you can enable auto-unlock on your system so that when that particular drive is connected to that particular system, you don't get prompted for the password every time.  But either way, make sure you back up either your Reflect encryption password or your external drive's encryption password and its Recovery Key.  And in fact since you seemed surprised to discover that BitLocker was enabled on your Windows partition, absolutely back up THAT partition's Recovery Key as well.

cdorling
cdorling
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Thank you so much for such a detailed response!

jphughan
jphughan
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You're welcome! Smile  I realize that may have been a lot to take in, but backups are of course important, so these are definitely things you want to have sorted before disaster strikes.  So it's good that you're asking these questions now!

GO

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