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bitlocker-encrypted SSD repeatedly  reported as unformatted in Windows Server Essentials 2012R2

Posted on 2014-07-30
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Last Modified: 2014-11-04
I had a system 128 GB SSD and a 250 GB file SSD on my WSE 2012, and the 250 GB file SSD filled up, so I got a 512 GB Crucial CT512MX100SSD1.   I installed and formatted the 512 GB drive, assigning it letter "M"   I then copied the contents of the 250 GB, which was drive letter D,  onto the 512 GB drive.   I then removed the 250 GB drive, and changed the 512 GB drive letter to "D."   I then removed the 512 GB drive and reinstalled the 250 GB drive, and changed the 250 GB drive to "U"   I then turned bitlocker on for the 512 GB drive  (all drives in the computer have bitlocker on.)  Finally, I restored the 250 GB drive and all was well until I restarted the server, as the 512 GB drive was shown as needing to be formatted in Windows Explorer and its format as unknown in Disk Management.   I reformatted the 512 GB drive and recopied the contents from the 250 drive and again it ran fine till I restarted, and then again the formatting on the 512 GB wasn't recognized.  There are a number of files I would like not to lose on the 512 GB drive (a couple of days worth) and in any case I want to keep it from happening again.

Thanks for your help
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Question by:NinEliAbe
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40231346
Is the drive unlocked with password when you see it as unformatted? The encrypted drive must be shown as unformatted before you enter the password to unlock it.
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40231684
Thanks for your quick response. Yes, even after I turn off bit locker it still shows as unformatted.
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by:noxcho
ID: 40231808
How do you create the partition? Via Windows Disk Management?
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40232282
I formatted through Windows Explorer.   Mistake?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40232305
Actually not. Lets narrow the problem to its bottle neck. Does this problem happen only if you use Bitlocker encryption? Or does it hpget unformatted itself even if you do not enable BL?
Another thing - does the drive have the latest firmware version? Same about the BIOS of PC.
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40234458
Thanks.  I am on a trip with my family, so away from the server and can't test everything out.  I know the SSD firmware is the latest version.  I'll check the bios and and the un-encrypted version of the drive when I return.   Is there anything that may recover the contents of drive?  I am imaging that the information is there but is being misread by the OS as unformatted. For example, I read about someone running chkdsk and having the contents return.   Should that be on my list?
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by:noxcho
ID: 40234933
No way to run chkdsk before you try to recover the data first. Otherwise it could make the things worse.
Let GetDataBack from www.runtime.org scan the partition. Hopefully it is partition table bad and not the file system itself. If it is file system bad then run any flash disk data recovery tool on it - should work. After this - run chkdsk x:/f
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40235131
Many thanks.  This is really helpful.  I'll run it when I get back next week.
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40256547
GetDataBack ran for a couple of hours and returned Error RT #652 "file system not found"  I ran Recuva and got a similar error.  I am currently running testdisk.   Question: could sfc /scannow help repair the file system, or is that only for boot disks?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40256885
It is for Windows files. Not for file system. So useless in your case.
Try tools suggested here: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9224577/6_data_recovery_tools_for_SD_cards_USB_drives_and_more
SSD is different than HDD so specific tools are needed as well.
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40262114
Thanks for sticking with me.

Photorec ran through, and found a 8 gb .gpg file, which I see is an encrypted file.  Bitlocker is turned off for the drive in the control panel, and there was no other encryption done.  

Am I defeated, or is there anything more to try?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40268465
I think this is the end for the data recovery story. Just accept it and concentrate on the search - why does it turn to be unformatted automatically.
Create on this drive two partitions. Each 200GB. Copy there some unnecessary data, restart the machine and see how it shows the drives.
Enable bitlocker and and copy some data and restart. Do not put yet there any type of data which is important for you.
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40269057
Any special way I should format the drive  (e.g. should I use default allocation unit size)?  I initially had done a full format, which I see is not recommended for SSDs.     Could you let me know the purpose of the 2 partitions?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40269099
Use just a standard way with quick format. I am trying to see if the drive has these problems when a single partition takes the whole space.
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40271070
It worked with the split partitions.  I then made a single partition and encrypted, and it seemed to work as well.

A couple of questions:
1. When I originally put the SSD it worked for about 3 days before it became corrupted.  It is possible that I hadn't restarted after encrypting, but I think I had.  Is there a more rigorous test I can do to confirm that it is resilient this time?

2. The bios is AMI V3.2B1.   The latest version available on the MSI website is V3.9  (The board is a MSI X58M (MS-7593).  I am afraid of bad things   happening if I update the BIOS, but could the old BIOS be part of the problem?
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by:noxcho
ID: 40271186
1) the SSD drives are different from HDD drives and if on HDD drive one bad sector occurs you can heal it by redirecting read write access to it to one free sector. With SSD drivepages are used instead of sectors. If one page dies then it is dead. No way to heal it. I was suspecting that such case could cause the problem when a page where partition info is written died then the whole drive could become corrupt. Just a thought. And creating more than 1 partition could help to locate if the drive gets bad at start or at end (depending on which partition gets bad).
But as you write it works well now.
So lets concentrate on suspect number 2.

2)BIOS - must be the latest. If you do everything properly then BIOS update is a fast and easy task. Just check if 3.2 can ne directly updated to 3.9 or does it need 3.3 3.4 etc updated. Confirm by BIOS maker.
Then the SSD has its own firmware as well. Check if you have the latest one. This is recommended to be done before you start using SSD drive intensively.
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Author Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40422366
Thanks Noxcho.   The drive ran fine for 6 weeks, then the same thing happened.  I think it may have lost a file or two the day before it finally reverted to needing to be reformatted. The SSD has the latest firmware.  I tried to update the BIOS, but it warned me not to if things were working OK and I got scared.
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Accepted Solution

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noxcho earned 1500 total points
ID: 40422892
So it is only this 512GB drive, right? Can you replace it by warranty?
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Author Closing Comment

by:NinEliAbe
ID: 40422952
As good a solution as possible- just nothing great was possible
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