Why We Turn off Bitlocker or A Friends Computer Repair Escapades


A follow up to the previous post.

A friend messaged me on WhatsApp. Express VPN wouldn’t open or install the latest update. First hurdle: multiple remote login attempts using both RustDesk and AnyDesk, but both were blocked by his college wifi network—great security, I guess. Finally, I managed to use his phone’s hotspot to remote in. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling several times, including with Revo Uninstaller. No luck. I even checked if there was a known bug with the latest version, but both attempts failed.

Frustrated, I decided to perform a system restore since the VPN app had been working fine the night before. However, the process took significantly longer than it should have. At that point, I suspected something seriously was wrong. To confirm my suspicions, the system went into automatic repair mode and displayed the BitLocker recovery screen. It hit me: a dead drive. I should have realized that from the start, but sometimes the free work we do leads to the worst outcomes (9 out of 10 times in fact).

Around 10 PM, I removed the SSD from my laptop and performed a clean install on my friend’s computer. Meanwhile, his programmer friend insisted that SSDs don’t fail. However, my experience in computer repair tells me otherwise—I’ve seen SSDs fail more often than HDDs with their 3-5 year lifespan. Just to prove my point, I tested the SSD using HDD Sentinel, and it promptly errored out during the drive test.I clearly have no idea what I am talking about.

Amidst all this, I was also guiding the same friend through retrieving his recovery key from his Microsoft account. Unfortunately, the account he thought had the recovery key, didn’t. Frustrated, I gave up on recovering his data, as he said it wasn’t crucial. We completed the installation, and he logged into both his Google and college Microsoft accounts. Luckily, the BitLocker key was in his secondary account (which for some reason he failed to mention he had before we reinstalled Windows). I attempted to access the data from his computer , but the drive was too far gone for Windows. So, I plugged it into my trusty ThinkPad running Linux, used the BitLocker key, and managed to salvage the data. It was now 2 or 3 AM. Success, I think. But honestly, I despise doing computer work, especially for free. I ended up buying a new SSD and did a fresh LTSC installation for my own pc.

This is why I turn off Bitlocker on all new pc’s and why we back things up folks.

This is day 16 of #100DaysToOffload

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