Macrium Support Forum

How to create mirror backup and restore an encryped hard drive?

By Peter Heffron - 20 April 2016 12:20 PM

1) If I use BitLocker to encrypt my computer (Windows Surface II Pro) running Windows 8.1, can I do a mirror backup as usual?

2) If I need to restore the computer with the mirror backup (above), will there be any problems due to the backup being encrypted?

3) Put another way: I want to use BitLocker to encrypt my computer hard drive and I want to be able to create mirror backups and restore those backups as needed. Do I need to do anything special, or will the standard mirroring and restoring procedures work whether the computer hard drive is encrypted or not?

Thank you.
Peter H.

By Arvy - 20 April 2016 3:01 PM

As explained in this KB article, you'll want to include Bitlocker support in your WinPE rescue media build so that you can unlock the drive and use intelligent sector copy imaging and cloning, RDR and the PE Explorer when booted to your rescue media.  Other than that, no special steps are required to use Reflect for backup imaging and other operations as usual in the regular Windows working environment.

If you're interested in more detailed information about Bitlocker itself and how it works (not specific to Reflect in particular), Microsoft provides a Bitlocker Drive Encryption Overview with links to additional step-by-step guides at the bottom of that page.  And, since you posted this under the Disk Cloning heading, you may also be interested in this Microsoft article about disabling Bitlocker encryption temporarily as Windows does itself when updating the computer’s basic input/output system or startup files.
By Peter Heffron - 20 April 2016 8:47 PM

Thank you Richard. That was VERY helpful and much appreciated, including the link especially to the KB article.
A new related question is, is it better to backup (mirror) an encrypted hard drive or an unencrypted hard drive, followed by encrypting the backup drive?

As you can probably tell, I'm an encryption newbie.

Best regards,
Peter H

By Arvy - 20 April 2016 10:11 PM

Well, I'm not an encryption "expert" by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I don't use Bitlocker at all myself.  So others are undoubtedly better advisors than I can possibly be on the subject.

I would say simply that it depends, first and foremost, on your own objectives and, for that matter, whether you really need it or not on the drive in question.  Generally speaking, encryption's primary purpose is to prevent anyone else from being able to read the data on the drive, and I'd normally assume that to apply equally to a backup (whether in place, lost, stolen, or just discarded) as it would to the original.  So, I guess my own inclination, if I did use encryption with that objective in mind, would be to apply it in all such cases.  The counterbalancing issue, of course, is convenient replacement if and when that may be required and, for that, the disable/re-enable route (not to be confused with actual decryption) appears to have some advantages.  With regard to cloning in particular, see this spiceworks thread for a lengthy discussion of whys and wherefores, pros and cons, etc.
By Peter Heffron - 21 April 2016 9:40 AM

Thanks a lot Richard. The Spiceworks link is instructive as well.
Peter H.

By Arvy - 21 April 2016 9:54 AM

You're welcome, Peter.  Glad that you found it helpful.  As a "newbie" myself in some other areas, I understand very well that the "learning curve" can be daunting at times.