Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Recovery partitions in Windows 8 and BitLocker drive encryption

Having just upgraded to a Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, I ran into a problem who's answer I could not find online. Lenovo (formerly IBM) Rescue and Recovery is gone. Windows 8 now comes with a slew of backup and restore functionality integrated into the OS. One of these features is a recovery partition with a complete system restore. Gone are the days of DVDs and other archaic media. Now all you need is a USB key (of sufficient size, usually 16GB) and you can create a recovery disk in case things go bad. Well, it turns out that if you enable BitLocker drive encryption, you loose access to the recovery partition. You can still create a restore drive, but this only allows for diagnostics, not full blown system wipe and re-install. So if you find yourself wanting to create a backup image using the stock Window 8 recovery tool, the "Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive" option greyed out. You have to fully turn off BitLocker, decrypt your HD and reboot before the option is selectable again. I can understand why this happens, but I can't understand why I wasn't warned about this ahead of encrypting my entire drive.

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