Replacing a Hard Disk on a Notebook with BitLocker Installed

Submitted on Sep 02, 2008, 12:29 a.m.

Awesome - my new 2.5" 320GB Hitachi 7200 rpm 16MB cache Travelstar 7K320 hard disk arrived today. The drive was actually made in Thailand - but I had to order it from Singapore... grrr...

Last March I purchased a ThinkPad T61p. I love this notebook... but I made the mistake of not putting a large enough drive in it at the time.

Here are the steps I took to swapping the drive and resizing the partitions. I had BitLocker installed - with the system volume C: encrypted, so there was a S: partition for boot (as BitLocker creates) and a D: volume where I keep all my data.

  1. Backed up D:
  2. Did a Complete PC Backup to an external USB drive. Control Panel, System Maintenance, Backup and Restore Center, Back up Computer. This creates an image based backup (like Ghost, or TrueImage) including all partition information. NOTE: The image backup process creates a 'decrypted' backup image so you need to keep this drive safe in the case of regular backups.
  3. Swapped the drives.
  4. Booted from my Vista 64 bit OS DVD - and chose "Repair your computer..." (after the date and time options) followed by "Windows Complete PC Restore" - restore completed.. and reboot.
  5. After booting - launched the Computer Management snap-in (right click on My Computer and choose "Manage"). Went into Disk Management - made the C: volume the active volume (in preparation for removing the BitLocker created S: volume)..
  6. Reboot - you'll see an error message that boot files cannot be found
  7. Boot again from Vista OS DVD
  8. Choose "Repair" - and "Startup Repair" (first option) - the boot files and MBR record will be recreated on the C: volume.
  9. Reboot and go back into Disk Management. Delete the S: volume (and in my case the D: data volume too). This will make room for a contiguous extension of the C: volume.
  10. Then in Disk Management right click on the C: volume and choose 'Extent Volume.."  (this was the whole point of the exercise for me - I needed to increase the size of my system volume).
  11. Reboot - system should be fine booting from C:. Re-run the BitLocker drive preparation tool - and re-create the new 1.5GB S: boot volume. And then in my case re-create the D: data volume.
  12. Reboot - all done - restore data to D: and re-encrypt C:.


Presto - and it worked flawlessly. Another option would have been to just use the Windows Complete PC Restore - and then use a tool like Acronis Disk Director to reorganize the partitions before re-encrypting the C: volume. However in this case - it all worked without the use of any 3rd party software. I'll give MS credit for their new image based backup system in Vista. I've used it several times now and it's always worked. :-)

Boot times are much improved as well. The previous drive was a Seagate Momentus 7200rpm 160GB disk - but it always felt sluggish to me. The new Hitachi disk is much quicker (although it's reviewed as slightly slower to the new 320GB offerings from both Seagate and Western Digital).