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Can't boot to hidden OS...

Topics: Technical Issues
Dec 3, 2015 at 5:49 PM
Followed all the instructions to setup a hidden OS. I can boot to the decoy OS (using that here in fact) and installed VC and can mount and open the hidden OS partition and browse the files. Tried to login at bootloader to hidden OS and accepts password but after about 90 minutes of "Booting..." I figured it's not going to boot.
  • VeraCrypt 1.16
  • Windows 7 Pro w/SP 1 on both the hidden and decoy
  • Decoy OS installed on 'C' drive "System Partition", NTFS, 200GB that I extended at install
  • Hidden OS installed on 'E' drive, RAW, 276GB
  • Used VC encryption defaults but did make sure they were the same for both OS's
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Dec 3, 2015 at 6:27 PM
What format did you use for the outer volume that hides the hidden OS? Your E partition does not have 2.1 times larger than your 200 GB of the C drive.

Also, there should be no drive letter assigned by Windows to the 276 GB partition. If you have a drive letter assigned in Windows Disk Management, you need to remove the Windows assigned drive letter.
It must be the first partition behind the system partition and it must be at least 5% larger than the system partition (the system partition is the one where the currently running operating system is installed). However, if the outer volume (not to be confused with the system partition) is formatted as NTFS, the partition for the hidden operating system must be at least 110% (2.1 times) larger than the system partition (the reason is that the NTFS file system always stores internal data exactly in the middle of the volume and, therefore, the hidden volume, which is to contain a clone of the system partition, can reside only in the second half of the partition).
Dec 3, 2015 at 6:47 PM
Thank you, Enigma2Illusion, for your time.

I'm obviously confused but I'll try my best to understand and provide usable info. The way I interpreted the instructions (which must be wrong) is that when installing the decoy OS that I needed to delete the first partition and then extend the system partition. The end result is that I have the partitions as described. I've removed the drive letter for the partition that contains the hidden OS but I wondering if it's all in vein at this point because I incorrectly set it up from the beginning? Is the best I can hope for at this point is to rescue my data from the hidden OS and start over?

Thank you again.
Dec 3, 2015 at 7:40 PM
Edited Dec 3, 2015 at 8:37 PM

Here is my high level explanation of hidden OS creation.
  • You must have an empty partition immediately behind the C drive partition that is 2.1 times larger when using NTFS.
  • The wizard will create two VeraCrypt volumes (outer and hidden) within the first partition behind the system partition. The size of the hidden volume is always the same as the size of the system partition.
  • The process will copy your existing OS to the hidden OS.
  • Create your Rescue Disk and VeraCrypt will reboot to verify the Rescue Disk.
  • VeraCrypt will prompt you to install a new system on the partition and encrypt it using VeraCrypt
What partition did you delete as the first partition?

Did you extend the C partition to the "E" drive after the creation of the hidden OS?

I am trying to understand how you were able to create the hidden OS successfully without enough disk space initially assigned since VeraCrypt checks for the RAW partition being of large enough size. Did you use FAT format for the "E" partition?

EDIT: I corrected my high level hidden OS procedures.
Dec 3, 2015 at 8:16 PM
Thank you again, Enigma2Illusion.

During the procedure:
  • I created the second partition
  • VC copied the existing OS to the second partition and encrypted it
  • Upon reboot to Windows 7 disc
  • - There were three partitions, 100MB system reserved, 200GB first prtn and 276GB second prtn
  • - - I deleted the 200GB first prtn
  • - - I then extended the 100MB system reserved to 200GB and installed Windows 7
  • Boot to fresh Win7 install (now drive C)
  • Installed VC and encrypted the C prtn (Normal, Windows Prtn, Single Boot)
  • Reboot to VC Bootloader
  • Logged into new Win7 install with decoy password
    Never able to log into the hidden OS. Can mount the partition from within the decoy and browse the files. As for the file system chosen for the hidden OS prtn I honestly don't remember, however, in a case like this where I am unfamiliar with the results I would have chosen any defaults or recommended settings if offered.
    Perhaps (all fingers and toes crossed) I can simply resize the partitions and it'll boot correctly???
Thank you!
Dec 3, 2015 at 8:54 PM
I have the feeling that when you combined the 100 MB System Reserved parition with the old original OS of 200 GB partition, then attempted to install the OS, Windows created the 100 MB System Reserved partition using part of the RAW (hidden OS) space.
Dec 3, 2015 at 9:15 PM
Using Partition Wizard I don't see any additional partitions. Of course that could be incorrect. I have reduced the size of the first prtn 'C' to 110GB but it doesn't help as I still just hang at "Booting..." after entering the hidden OS password.
Dec 3, 2015 at 9:40 PM
Sorry, I do not have any other ideas.

Hopefully another member can assist that has setup the hidden OS.
Dec 3, 2015 at 10:29 PM
Edited Dec 3, 2015 at 10:30 PM
Hi colatm,

The hidden OS can't boot because you deleted the the 100MB partition that existed when it was created. Once the hidden OS is created, the disk layout must not change and you only have to format the system partition to install a new Windows that will be the decoy OS.

You seem to have understood that you must extend the system partition by removing the 100MB that precede it. This is clearly not what written in the explanatory text in the wizard nor in the documentation. Here is a quote from the documentation about this part of the process:
...To prevent such issues, VeraCrypt will securely erase the entire content of the partition where the original system resides after the hidden system has been created. Afterwards, in order to achieve plausible deniability, VeraCrypt will prompt you to install a new system on the partition and encrypt it using VeraCrypt. Thus, you will create the decoy system and the whole process of creation of the hidden operating system will be completed.
As you can see, you just need to install Windows into the system partition and there is no mention of modifying disk partitions layout.

Anyway, you probably can still save the situation by letting Windows recreate the 100MB partition during the Windows installation in order to end up with the same disk layout as during the copying of the hidden OS. Once the new Windows installed with the 100MB partition in place, encrypt it with VeraCrypt and try to boot the hidden OS.