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Imaging Options

There are multiple ways to image a computer with BitLocker security in place, namely:

  • Offline imaging
  • Live imaging

Offline imaging

One can make an offline image with the image containing encrypted information.

Multiple options to offline decrypt the information, provided the password or recovery password is available, are available. Some of which are:

The recovery password is a long series of digits broken up into 8 segments.


Note that there is no white space in the recovery password including not at the end, e.g. EnCase does not accept the recovery password if there is trailing white space.

The recovery password can be recovered from a BitLocker enabled computer provided it can be logged into e.g. by running:

manage-bde.exe -protectors -get C: -Type recoverypassword

The basic steps are:

  1. Make an offline full disk image.
  2. Recover the password, this can be done by booting the original computer, or by creating a clone and booting the clone. (booting from a clone has not been tested at this time.)

    1. Once booted log into the computer
    2. Use the BitLocker control panel applet to display the password. This can also be done from the command-line.
    3. record the password
  3. For EnCase v6 or higher with the encryption module installed

    1. Load the image into EnCase
    2. You will be prompted for the password. Simply enter it and continue.
    3. If you prefer to have an un-encrypted image to work with other tools or share with co-workers, you can "re-acquire" the image from within EnCase. The new image will have unencrypted data.
    4. After adding the encrypted image into your case, simply right click on the drive in the left panel and select acquire. Select "do not add to case". You will be presented a dialog window to enter new information about the image. Make sure the destination you select for your new image does not exist.

Live imaging

FTK Lite

Imaging of a physical drive

Using FTK Imager lite, it was determined a live image of the physical system disk resulted in an image with an encrypted bitlocker container on it.

Note that the phrase "physical" here corresponds directly with FTK Imagers use of the term in their image acquire menu.

Imaging of a logical partition

I was able to add a partition and create an image in which the data was unencrypted.

Note that the phrase "logical" here corresponds directly with FTK Imagers use of the term in their image acquire menu.

Files and Folders collections

This was not attempted, but it seems reasonable to assume this will collect unencrypted files.


Imaging of a physical drive

X-Ways support states this is not supported.

Imaging of a logical partition

X-Ways support states that this should work.

In at least one instance, I was able to add C: drive (not the physical disk, just the partition) and create an image that could in turn be processed by X-Ways. Both existing and deleted files were available within X-Ways after processing.

There has been atleast one report on the X-Ways forum that this feature does not work, so it may not work for all configurations of bitlocker.

See Also