Bitlocker with USB and Port Replicator

Posted on 2011-10-17
Last Modified: 2012-05-12

We are currently starting to use Bitlocker on our Toshiba Satellite R630 laptops (running Win 7 x64) usuing USB flash drives as the startup key. We currently use Toshiba U10 Dynadock port replicators for the laptops as well. The idea is that we will use two USB flash drives - one for when out of the office and one which will be plugged into the Dynadock for when in the office.

We have found that several of our users cannont get their laptop to start when the flash drive is plugged into the Dynadock. It works grand when plugged directly into the laptop ports. I have tried inserting the drive into different ports on the dock but this hasnt worked. I managed to get one user working by checking the boot order of the laptop. His was set to his CD Drive first and then his HDD. I changed the order so the HDD was first and this seems to have sorted the problem for him - though this could be a coincidence as the others were all set to boot from HDD and theirs doesnt work.

This issue does not effect all of our users so it must be something fairly obvious. Thanks for any help you can give.
Question by:Tugsol
    LVL 77

    Accepted Solution

    I think that it might be a restriction in Bitlocker.. it may be looking for the exact USB port that the usb key was plugged into.. i.e. a combination of the hardware id of the port plus the disk id of the usb drive.

    Caveat: do not format the usb key, you can add and delete files on it but formatting it will cause you grief.

    Author Comment

    Hi ve3ofa.

    I'm not sure that that's what is hapening here but it was a good guess. I have tried the usb key in different ports on the laptop and it always works grand - just not when through the port replicator. If your idea was correct then it shouldnt have worked through different laptop ports. Also we have users who do work grand through the port replicator.

    Also we are using two different usb keys. We set Bitlocker on the initial one and then copy the startup key to the second. I have tried using the usb key in the port replicator to initially set up bitlocker and then copy the startup key to a usb drive in the local laptop port and then vice versa on a different user but no difference.

    It seems to be that the laptop is unable to read from the PR on startup for some users but not for others. Issue with the BIOS perhaps?

    Anything else you can think of?


    Assisted Solution

    I think we now have a solution to this.

    I checked the setup of those which worked against those which didnt and i noticed that the ones which worked had the USB key plugged into the bottom port of the replicator while those which didnt were plugged into the top port.

    Ve3ofa - You may have been pretty close to the solution so i have marked your post as a multiple answer. We didnt have the keys plugged into the replicator during setup so it wasnt an exact answer but it helped me to find the solution. It must check the ports in order starting from the bottom on boot.


    Author Closing Comment

    My last comment detailed the answer which helped to solve this issue. The comment by Ve3foa helped to find the solution.

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