Performing a BitLocker installation of Windows Vista

Mark Minasi provides the information you need to install Windows Vista on your system. This chapter is an excerpt from Minasi's book, "Mastering Windows Vista for Business Professionals."

SP1 and R2

Mastering Windows Vista for Business Professionals
By Mark Minasi and John Paul Mueller

The following excerpt is from chapter two of Mastering Windows Vista for Business Professionals, entitled "Installing Vista."


Check out the rest of this chapter, Installing Vista.

Performing a BitLocker Installation of Vista

BitLocker is a new disk encryption technology that comes with Vista. This technique encrypts the entire drive. However, some part of the drive must remain bootable. Consequently, what you really set up with BitLocker is a 2 GB boot partition that isn't encrypted and the remainder of the drive that is encrypted. The technology works despite the 2 GB partition because absolutely everything about your system, including Vista itself, is on the second partition. Only common boot information appears on the first partition. You may have noticed that the setups so far in this chapter are significantly easier and more flexible than previous versions of Windows. Vista really does make a big leap in ease of installation. However, the BitLocker setup requires a little more work on your part. The following sections describe how to set up your system for BitLocker.

Editing System Information and Formatting Drives Using Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE)

Previous versions of the Windows CD Setup program came with a clunky character mode interface that didn't exactly inspire confidence. Vista comes with a miniature copy of Windows that provides the graphical interface that you use normally. This mini-version of Windows is called the Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE). You use it to access all of the features of setup. In this case, you must make a detour to create a special partition setup for BitLocker. The following steps describe how to perform this task.

  1. Boot the computer using the Vista installation disk. You'll see Vista start up and Setup asks you for some basic information.

  2. Provide the Installation Language, Time and Currency Format, and Keyboard or Input Method. Click Next. Setup presents the main installation option. However, below this option is a link for the System Recovery Options.

  3. Click System Recovery Options. You'll see a number of system recovery options, including the option to open a command prompt.

  4. Click Command Prompt. Setup starts the familiar command processor. This process depends on the DiskPart utility, which lets you perform low-level manipulation of the hard drive. You can perform an amazing number of tasks, but the essential task, in this case, is creating the correct partition layout.

  5. Type DiskPart and press Enter. You'll see the DiskPart prompt. It's easy to obtain help at any time by typing Help and pressing Enter. DiskPart will display a list of commands you can execute.

  6. Type Select Disk 0 and press Enter. DiskPart tells you that it has selected the first disk on your hard drive. You always have to select a file system object before you can work with it when using DiskPart. Selecting a drive is always the first step in the process.
    WARNING: This next step is permanent. It removes the partition tables from the selected drive. Make sure you have saved any data you want to save on the drive before you execute this step. Make sure you have selected the correct drive.

  7. Type Clean and press Enter. DiskPart erases all of the partition information on the selected drive. This act cleans the hard drive completely; nothing remains behind.

  8. Type Create Partition Primary and press Enter. DiskPart creates a new primary partition on the hard drive. This act also selects the new partition automatically so that you can work with it.

  9. Type Assign Letter=C and press Enter. DiskPart assigns the letter C to the new partition.

  10. Type Shrink Minimum=2000 and press Enter. DiskPart shrinks the new partition by 2,000KB. This new area will hold the actual boot partition. You can increase this value to ensure the disk partition is large enough for updates later. In most cases, you'll want to set the value to at least 4,000 to ensure you can perform updates. Remember that Vista looks at the boot drive, not the data drive, as the basis for later updates.

  11. Type Create Partition Primary and press Enter. DiskPart creates a second new primary partition. This smaller partition will hold the boot files and won't be encrypted when you use BitLocker. DiskPart automatically selects this new partition so you can work with it. If you want to work with the first partition you created again, you must use the Select Partition 0 command.

  12. Type Active and press Enter. DiskPart makes the second partition the active partition—the one that the system uses for boot purposes.

  13. Type Assign Letter=D and press Enter. DiskPart assigns the letter D to the new partition.
    NOTE: The drive letter assignments are only suggestions. If you want to use C for the boot partition and D for the Vista partition, you can certainly do so. Likewise, you might choose to assign Z to the boot partition to keep it at the bottom of drive lists while working in Vista. The point is that you should assign the drive letters based on personal preference and your working habits.

  14. Type Exit and press Enter to exit DiskPart.

  15. Type Format /y /q /fs:NTFS C: to format the Vista partition. The Format utility formats the partition using NTFS.

  16. Type Format /y /q /fs:NTFS D: to format the boot partition.

  17. Type Exit and press Enter to close the command prompt.

  18. Click the Close button or press Alt+F4 to close the System Recovery Options window. You don't have to click Shut Down or Restart to restart the setup process; Setup already recognizes the new partitions you created.
Performing the BitLocker Installation

Now that you have a shiny new partition you can use for BitLocker, it's time to install Vista. Follow the same procedure that you do for a clean install using the steps in the "Performing a Clean Install of Vista" section of the chapter. However, make sure you choose the correct disk partition for Vista. Since there are two partitions, it's easy to make a mistake. Always install Vista on the first partition you created (drive C: in the example). Setup automatically uses the second partition (drive D: in the example) for the boot files.

Continue to Installing Windows Vista: The installation paths converge.

Mark Minasi is a best-selling author, commentator and all-around alpha geek. Mark is best known for his books in the Mastering Windows series. What separates him from others is that he knows how to explain technical things to normal humans, and make them laugh while doing it. Mark's firm, MR&D, is based in Pungo, a town in Virginia's Tidewater area that is distinguished by having one -- and only one -- traffic light.
Copyright 2007 TechTarget
This was first published in March 2007

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