How to fix Bitlocker issues on Windows 10

I like shiny new things. And when you work in tech, shiny new things are easy to acquire. Just switch to the new alpha/beta channel for your favourite toolset and you're sorted. However, all this comes with a massive disclosure: things can quite frequently go horribly wrong. But I love the excitement of trying new features and I'm quite happy to overlook any broken bits. I also do my best to report back to the developers. And for a long time I managed to ride the (innovation) wave without major issues. Ok, I had to reinstall things from time to time. That's fine. Playing with untested software can break your machine.

As a developer, I'm curious about new technologies and I learn through breaking stuff. However, things have changed now that I'm on the road a lot more visiting customers and needing a reliable machine to see me through my engagements. And that's where I got caught. The latest Windows 10 Insiders Build broke my machine in a way that I couldn't recover.

Eventually, I took the plunge to repave (format & reinstall Windows) my machine. It took a whole afternoon and a bit of my evening. Not a fun experience, considering that I had to install a number of corporate applications. What's worse I do all this x 2 times since I have 2 machines. I rolled back to the Anniversary Edition (July 2016) because it has all I need (Bash, Containers) and it's super stable!

During the machine setup, one of the requirements was to enable BitLocker. Unfortunately, it wasn't as straightforward as I would have hoped it would be and I was soon presented with the following error message:

This PC doesn't support entering a BitLocker recovery password during startup. Ask your administrator to configure Windows Recovery Environment so that you can use BitLocker.

The fix, if you're faced with the same problem, is to run through the following steps:

  1. Start an elevated command line
  2. Enter DISKPART
  3. Enter LIST VOLUME
  4. Select the "recovery" volume with SELECT VOLUME <number>. Number is the recovery volume number
  5. ASSIGN LETTER=Q (to assign the letter Q:\ to the recovery partition)
  6. FORMAT fs=ntfs label="Recovery" quick override. The label="Recovery" is optional, so feel free to provide an alternative name
  7. Type EXIT to leave diskpart
  8. Run Robocopy.exe C:\Windows\System32\Recovery\ Q:\Recovery\WindowsRE\ /copyall /dcopy:t
  9. Run reagentc /setreimage /path Q:\Recovery\WindowsRE
  10. Run reagentc /enable
  11. Run reagentc /info to check whether the setup worked. If all worked "WinRe-Status" should be enabled now
  12. (Optional) Use DISKPART to remove the drive letter previously assigned to the recovery partition. Run through steps 1. to 3. and then enter REMOVE LETTER=Q

Following these few easy steps should resolve your BitLocker issues.

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