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Our company's had its laptops for just over 2 years now and they have all become slow and many of them have had their harddisks dying randomly lately. I noticed that many of my colleagues use a tilted stance for their docking stations. I suppose that's not ideal for disk performance and durability. So I want to replace all disks with an SSD.

I've cloned (boot) disks before, in server environments mainly and once in my laptop at home (which runs Linux) using dd:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=32M

However, I've never done this with an NTFS drive that is encrypted using Bitlocker. Will this work? I wouldn't want to buy a stack of SSDs only to find out my plan is flawed.

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  • I would recommend investing in one of those USB3 SATA docking stations and then take a look at superuser.com/questions/266520/…
    – HBruijn
    Aug 18 '14 at 11:30
  • The problem here is not cloning the disk; that's easy. The problem is your new disk must be at least the size of the old one. Aug 18 '14 at 11:39
  • @HBruijn Could you tell me what the problem with my plan is? I have the resources to do it "your" way, but using an unencrypted disk image isn't very appealing to me. Aug 18 '14 at 11:42
  • @MichaelHampton: Ah yes thanks, I did think of that. I thought I'd try to find a way around that by resizing the partitions, but if that's not an option (is it?) we'll have to buy bigger SSDs. That's not really a problem. Aug 18 '14 at 11:47
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Since it seems like the original question was never answered, I've tested using GNU dd to clone a disk encrypted with Microsoft BitLocker (in my case it was a spinning disk to a SSD) and it worked fine. In my case the disk sizes were the same.

For reference:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb

Naturally change the devices to work with your setup.

To elaborate a bit more on the process I use:

  1. Create a Linux live USB (I use the gparted linux distro, but nearly anyone will work since dd is part of GNU CoreUtils and therefore practically always present)
  2. Boot the system with it
  3. Open an admin terminal, and run dd as appropriate for your environment. You can optionally use the gparted application to see the results once it's done.
  4. Shutdown the computer
  5. Remove the Linux USB
  6. Make the physical changes (ie. replace the old disk with the new one)
  7. Boot into Windows as normal
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  • Just to make sure, does this mean that if I dd to a Image file on a hard drive I will be able to mount it from the file, IE bitlocker doesn't take any of the hard drive specifics as salt to the encryption ? May 27 at 16:49
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    @BojanJovanovic I can't say for sure since I never tried it, but I'd expect the dd part to be the same regardless of the destination. In my case I went between 2 separate & unique physical disks, and it worked fine. So any unique IDs from the physical disk are either transferred, or ignored. I suspect BitLocker is not tying to physical unique IDs otherwise you'd never be able to change hard disks (which would make back up recovery impossible). I just don't know about mounting an image of a bitlocker disk. May 29 at 19:36
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You'll find that AOMEI and other backup solutions can clone Bitlocker drives, but the result is an unencrypted drive (using sector by sector copy, and the bitlocker source has to be unlocked). Casper Secure Disc 4.2 can clone and even resize a bitlocker locked drive to another drive while you're working in windows. I've used the trial version which does not allow resizing, and it cloned a bitlockered Win10 x64 drive to another SSD. I could boot the clone and it asked for the bitlocker PIN just like the source, and worked fine. Now the painful part: 129 smackeroos. You're call on whether or not it's worth it. You can use AOMEI sector by sector backup, and it'll clone the Bitlocker driver to another drive but the target will be UNencrypted, although bootable. You then need to encrypt it.

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  • Hi, thanks for the suggestion! I did a little write-up on how I managed to do this: jhaagmans.com/performance-2/… Your results may vary and I eventually had to decrypt the drive to resize it, which was unfortunate, but only because of time, as the actual copy/clone was done with encrypted data. Oct 2 '17 at 9:03

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