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Duplicating Encrypted Hard Drive

Posted on 2016-09-18
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Last Modified: 2016-09-18
Hi,

 I have a hard drive that is encrypted by Microsoft  BitLocker. The hard drive is running Windows 7 Ultimate OS inside the laptop and it runs fine except it hesitates to respond sometimes. When I checked System in Event Viewer, I saw some DISK related errors. So I decide to replace it with the new hard drive. BTW I could not fix the error using Seagate Seatools for Windows.
I decided to use Paragon Hard Disk Copy software to duplicate the hard drive so that I don't have to load OS and all other software and join the compute to the domain.
But Paragon stops copying with the prompt "There are errors ... do you want this errors to be fixed and continue?".
If I clicked YES, then it took hours, but eventually failed.
When I clicked No, then I saw an error "File system has allocation errors due to cross-linked files. Run OS build-in tools for checking and correcting this kind of errors.".
Is this because the original hard drive is encrypted by bit-locker?
After attaching this hard drive to my computer and tried open it in "My Computer", it was asking "Recovery Key" and I had to enter the key before starting HD duplication in Paragon.
So I am wondering if it is wise to do error checking on original laptop first and try to duplicate or I just can't duplicate encrypted HD?
I can always install OS from the scratch even though it takes hours to complete with all the software ...
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Question by:sglee
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by:
Schnell Solutions earned 250 total points
ID: 41804080
Bit locker encryption at the end is scrambled of the information. It does not avoid that you copy the data if it is a block by block copy to a different disk, what it avoids is that someone interprets this data(unscramble it) without the possession of the private key.

However, if a different tool modifies any information from the disk, unaware of this encryption, like in this case trying to repair it, this process could affect the encryption and you can have data lost as far as later the system might not be able to unencrypt the information or part of it. If you are going to perform repair operations on the disk the best thing is that you unencrypt it first and then you execute maintenance on it or that you perform a check conducted by your windows installation. Like using chkdsk, which is going to work been aware of BitLocker.
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by:Christopher Jay Wolff
Christopher Jay Wolff earned 125 total points
ID: 41804104
Hi people.

About bitlocker causing it.  No, bitlocker alone isn't causing the cross-linked file error per say.  But some bug in some odd set of circumstances between your programs and OS mishandled the data somewhere.

Is it not possible you simply have  cross-linked files and that is the only problem with the drive?  Using:  

chkdsk /f /r

may fix the issue, as described by...

Because some repairs, such as correcting lost clusters (also knows as allocation units) or cross-linked files, change a volume's file allocation table and can cause data loss, Chkdsk first prompts you with a confirmation message similar to the following:

10 lost allocation units found in 3 chains.

Convert lost chains to files?

from this TechNet link:
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc938973.aspx


Your description sounds like that may be the only problem.  I believe you cannot fix allocation issues like cross-linked files with most tools like Seatools or Paragon since it is an OS issue or bug that occurred, and they stick to HDD issues only, rather than errors from software.  More rare nowadays, but still out there.

Some other explanations of cross-linked files are below.  They're old but still help explain.
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/83140

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/71609

https://neosmart.net/wiki/chkdsk/
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by:web_tracker
web_tracker earned 125 total points
ID: 41804135
I would decrypt the drive, then try copying it over, to the new drive, then encrypt it again once it is copied over. If you still can not copy over the drive contents then you can use a program like HDD regenerator or spin rite to see if it can repair the drive enough so you can copy over the data.  Note both apps are paid software. HDD Regenerator I believe has a trial version where you can test to see if it can recover anything before you buy it.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41804137
Removing Bit-Locking off the existing hard drive and enabling it on the new hard drive will take days.
Repairing HD is certainly an option, but that will take a long time too and what if the problems are not repairable (like Seatools have determined). Besides this hard drive is screwed up so bad that restarting the computer/laptop takes an hour because it gets stuck at logging off.

So I have decided to install OS from the scratch and load all necessary application software.

Thanks all for your recommendations.
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Expert Comment

by:Christopher Jay Wolff
ID: 41804161
Thanks for the points.  BTW, taking an hour on restart is a typical symptom of cross-linked files.  Your drive may be just fine, once cross-linked is repaired with chkdsk.  So as I was trying to say above, Seatools and Paragon chose not to be able to repair cross-linked files.  But chkjdsk will.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41804164
@Chris
In fact, that was what I was trying to do. I went to the property of the C drive and perform a repair. It said that repair would being after I restart the laptop. When I restarted it, it was stuck at Logging off for a couple of hours and that is when I have decided to pull the plug.
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by:Christopher Jay Wolff
ID: 41804178
Smart move.  

For the sake of the question thread, I am including a "note" at the bottom of the TechNet link from earlier.

If you use the  /f switch on an extremely large volume (for example, 70 GB) or a volume with a very large number of files (in the millions), Chkdsk can take a long time (perhaps days) to complete. The volume is not available during this time, since Chkdsk does not relinquish control until it is done. If the system volume is being checked during the startup process, the computer is not be available until the Chkdsk process is complete.

Over and out.
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