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Regular readers of this blog will know that I have recently published a definitive guide to backing up your home computer in which I say that home users should not rely on System Images for system backup because restoring them is so unreliable. This does not apply to corporate users who often purchase large numbers of identical items and use can disk imaging reliably.

At work we use Veeam Endpoint Backup to apply the same image to many machines. This is a free block level imaging and backup tool. Unlike Windows System Image functionality it allows restoration to different sized disks. This is essential if you are migrating from a large slow HDD to a small fast SSD.

We wanted to clone our build of a Microsoft Surface 3. Having built the reference copy and dropped it off the domain we turned off Bitlocker on the C: drive (Control Panel > Bitlocker). We then installed Veeam Endpoint Backup and made a bootable Veeam Recovery Disk and an backup (disk image).

When we did a Veeam bare metal restore to a Microsoft Surface 3 that we took out of its box it worked fine.

When we tried to apply the image to Microsoft Surface 3 that had already been used it would not apply. We got the error “C: is write protected.”

Investigation showed that this was because the Surface has Bitlocker turned on by default and that a partition protected with Bitlocker cannot be overwritten even after it is deleted.

There are two fixes to this issue. You can simply turn off Bitlocker on the target machine (Control Panel > Bitlocker) and wait 20 min for the disk to decrypt (untested) or follow this procedure.

  1. Connect the USB drive (FAT32 format is required) containing the Veeam recovery boot disk and system image.
  2. Boot to USB – Veeam Recovery Environment
  3. Tools > Command prompt
  4. Remove the USB drive so you don’t accidentally format it!
  5. clean and format the disk

select disk 0
[DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.]
convert gpt
create partition primary
[DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.]
select partition 1
[Partition 1 is now the selected partition.]
format  quick
[100 percent completed
DiskPart successfully formatted the volume.]