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Windows 7: Using Imaging software with Truecrypt system encryption.

11 Oct 2011   #1

(Windows 7 32 bit) x2 / (Windows 98)
Using Imaging software with Truecrypt system encryption.

What I want to do is make backup images of all my operating systems using something like Macrium or Norton ghost.

I have some concerns with doing this however, the primary concern that I have is that one of my Windows 7 partitions is encrypted with Truecrypt. It requires preboot authentication using Truecrypts bootloader to be decrypted and used.

In my search for finding a good program to image with I have learned that there are problems with many imaging programs and Truecrypt system encryption. Ive read stories of people only being able to make unencrypted images of their encrypted partition. Others have said that an image restore of an encrypted system partition made their OS unbootable.

I should also mention that I have 3 operating systems win98/Windows 7/Windows 7 encrypted
Of these operating systems, Windows 98 was installed 1st. It is the active partition which I believe has all the bootmgr settings on it. I don't know if this is relevant but I also used easyBCD to make windows 98 bootable, and later installed Truecrypt on my last install of Windows 7. This probably modified the bootmgr again by adding the Truecrypt bootloader but Im not exactly sure how that works.

Anyways, All operating systems work fine as they are and Im hoping not to mess things up by restoring an image that doesn't work.

For my encrypted version of Windows 7 im thinking there is only 2 possible options for imaging..

First option is to find a program that can make an encrypted image of a Truecrypt system partition, then restore it successfully.

My second option is to just make an unencrypted image of my Truecrypt system partition, then if I need to restore the image, I could re-encrypt the OS after I restore it.

Id prefer the first option, but Id love to hear about how to do either successfully with Truecrypt. All ideas are welcome, but I should mention that Ive never used any imaging program before so step by step instructions on how to successfully make an image and restore it with my current setup would really help me.

Thanks in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

11 Oct 2011   #2

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

I use TrueCrypt and Macrium, and I have done both ways successfully. Everything worked as expected.

As you've already figured out, when backing up the (encrypted and running) Windows system, you end up with an unencrypted image - but you can let Macrium re-encrypt it using its own (non-TC) encryption (registered version only). Restoring it will undo the Truecrypt encryption though and you'll have to re-encrypt it from scratch. But TC has no problem with an encrypted system partition that, from its own point of view, was "suddenly and unexpectedly" decrypted.

Quite cleverly, you can save your Macrium backups on an external storage device that's also encrypted with TrueCrypt, this way you don't need Macrium's own encryption. (You will need to run TrueCrypt from the WinPE rescue disc however in order to mount the encrypted volume on the external storage before you can access the backup and restore it. I do this by running Truecrypt from an USB stick after I've booted the rescue disc.)

I've also done a full sector-by-sector clone of my encrypted system using the WinPE rescue disk (since it allows you to both back up and restore). When I later restored this clone image and rebooted, it fired right up without any problem and the Truecrypt encryption was completely intact.

So, I can vouch that both ways of doing this are safe and work well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2011   #3

(Windows 7 32 bit) x2 / (Windows 98)

That's comforting, you read my mind on the idea about storing the unencrypted Macrium image on an Truecrypt volume stored on an external HD. However this method adds a major step of having to re-encrpt the system partition, once you restore it, which took me hours the first time around.

So what was your procedure for making and restoring an encrypted image of your Truecrypt system partition? Did you have to run Macrium before the the Truecrypt password screen?

If so what did you use to boot macrium with and were there any special steps you had to take for this situation? Sorry for all the questions but Im very new to imaging.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

12 Oct 2011   #4

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

I have the full registered version of Reflect, so I have the benefit of the bootable WinPE rescue disc that comes with it. And this disc lets you both back up and restore, so I boot from that and then make the backup of the encrypted system partition 'as is'.

Since the system partition will be seen by the rescue disc as raw data instead of a recognizable filesystem, you can obviously only make a full sector-by-sector copy. The big advantage is not having to re-encrypt your system if you ever restore it from such a Macrium image.

But I think that despite the TrueCrypt encryption you can still benefit from compressing the image file if you wipe your free disk space clean while running your normal Windows system before you restart and boot from the rescue disc. (That was a mouthful, lol, but I hope you understand what I mean).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Oct 2011   #5

(Windows 7 32 bit) x2 / (Windows 98)

I think making an image with a paid version of macrium, prior to boot will be the way I go then. Or maybe I can use the free macrium and download WinPE if it's free.

I'm guessing that a full sector-by-sector copy will be the same size as the partition itself though. That should be ok as long as it restores the image properly.

Im a bit worried about if it will restore the TC bootloader properly, because I have 3 operating systems and I think my truecrypt bootloader may be on my Win98 partition. Its the partition that is set as active but im hoping this won't matter since that partition wouldn't be touched in an image restore of the Windows 7 partition.

Thanks for your help, if there is anything else you can think of that I need to know when backing up or restoring an encrypted image please let me know.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Oct 2011   #6

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

A full clone of a partition will still be somewhat smaller than the partition itself since Macrium can still compress the encrypted data - it just has more data (namely whatever is in the unused disk space) to deal with.

The TrueCrypt bootloader lives in the MBR of your system harddisk, not in any particular partition. Macrium always backs up the MBR and restores it for you (you have the option of not restoring the MBR but that wouldn't make much sense of course). So no worries, you're all set for what you're planning to do.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Oct 2011   #7

(Windows 7 32 bit) x2 / (Windows 98)

I hope your right, I'll give this program a try here soon. For the next few days I'll be preparing my system. I still have somewhat new OS installs but Ive been on the internet already with them for a couple months. So I'll run a couple virus applications and probably CCcleaner. Then I'll create all the images.

Wouldn't be anything worse than restoring an image of an OS that contains viruses or other problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2011   #8

(Windows 7 32 bit) x2 / (Windows 98)

I have full macrium now with a winPE rescue disk. Im a little lost navigating the bootable rescue cd though.

My biggest question is how do I make images or backups from this disk?

I see many options for restoring created images but nothing for creating new images.

These are the options I'm looking at......

Windows PE Rescue Environment

My idea was to create an image of the encrypted OS while it is still encrypted, in other words before its booted, then restore it as an identical encrypted partition. I believe that's what you managed to do but I don't know how exactly.

I'm also a bit confused about how to access TC and mount a partition from the rescue disk. This would be helpful if it's possible.

Thanks again
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2011   #9

(Windows 7 32 bit) x2 / (Windows 98)

Disregard my last post, I just had to update macrium to update the interface. I'm still not sure about mounting a TC volume from the PE recovery disk though, if I could do this I could restore individual files to my TC volume without windows being booted. Not a big deal though.

I haven't made any images yet but I'll probably start with imaging my unencrypted partitions, then I'll deal with the encrypted partition.

Looking at the Macrium interface, If a clone is my only option for backing up and restoring a Trucrypt volume while maintaining its encrypted state, it's a shame these clones aren't stored and recovered the same way as images.

What I mean is, I cant store the clone neatly within an existing partition right? It's basically just a copy of the partition that is going to need a drive letter allocated to it just like the original? Or am I wrong? My computer has so many drive letters already that it's making me dizzy, lol. Ive had to hide some of them from view in windows just to keep things neat.

Im also hoping that restoring the clone to its original location is easy. I see the restore image feature in WinPE, I dont see a restore clone feature. So how were you restoring the clone to its original location?

Thanks again
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2011   #10

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

Nono, the clone is saved as a regular .mrimg file just like an image made with 'intelligent copy'. There's no difference otherwise. Don't confuse a clone image with a partition-to-partition copy (that's not what Macrium does).

As for TrueCrypt, I have a copy of TC on an USB stick, from where it will run in portable mode. What I do is simply insert my USB stick after the WinPE environment has booted, open a command shell, navigate to the stick and start TC from there.
Then I can mount my encrypted system partition with the 'mount without pre-boot authorization' option checked.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Using Imaging software with Truecrypt system encryption.

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