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I'm looking at using Bitlocker on a new laptop. I have been using Acronis for full image backups; it would take me way too much time to reinstall and configure from scratch in the event of a stolen laptop. I would like to do periodic full system backups with daily incremental backups.

Acronis True Image treats Bitlocker images as black boxes; a backup is equal in size to the entire hard drive volume. An incremental backup of a Bitlocker image results again in a backup equal to the size of the entire hard drive.

Vista's "Complete PC Backup and Restore" is a bit clumsy in that it is difficult to restore the system to new hardware for the case of a lost / stolen laptop.

Does Windows 7 support Bitlocker using Complete PC Backup and Restore, and restore to replacement hardware?

How can incremental backups be performed with Bitlocker?

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Remember that BitLocker provides full-volume encryption. You can easily use an online-based backup tool like Mozy or Carbonite, which will read the files from disk (decrypting them in the process) and then back them up to a separate cloud-based repository. These solutions typically provide their own encryption implementation. While you lose a bit of the bare-metal-restore capability of the Acronis solution, this may still be a viable alternative that's less expensive than deploying WHS.

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I cannot speak for Windows 7, but I am sure some Googling would off you some answers about that.

As for how to backup your current situation, you have a couple of options - Use Acronis as you have been, but do sector-by-sector image backups, which will work in the event of a restore, but as you mentioned will be large. You can deal with the built-in Vista features, or, buy/build a Windows Home Server, which supports backing up Bitlocker encrypted drives.

Short answer, I think for your purposes (no access to enterprise class backup solutions), unless you are willing to set up a server at home, or deal with the large size of the acrnois images, you are pretty much limited to the built in tools Vista has.

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