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BIOS freezes after encrypting partition

Topics: Technical Issues
Jul 6, 2016 at 2:01 PM
Edited Jul 6, 2016 at 2:03 PM
Hi,

I have 2 drives, 1 SSD and 1 HDD.
On the SSD I have only 1 partition where Windows is installed. This is partition 'C'.
On the HDD I have 2 partitions: The 100MB Windows bootloader (without a letter) and the rest is for my data only and the partition's letter is 'D'.

I wanted to encrypt all of my drives so in case of a theft my data are not stolen at least. I don't have TPM so Bitlocker is not on option, therefore I wanted to try Veracrypt.
It said it cannot do a full system encryption because the Windows bootloader is not on the same disk where Windows is. OK, it is still better to encrypt my 'D' partition only, compared to encrypt nothing, so I started the process of encrypting the 'D' partition. I specified the password for it and encryption started. I saw it would take 8 hours so I clicked 'Defer' and then I powered off the PC (normal Windows shutdown). Next day I powered it on but it stuck on the second BIOS loading screen where I can see the type of the CPU, the amount of RAM, connected SATA devices, etc. It recognized both of my drives but it was completely frozen. I could not change the LED for Num Lock, or enter into BIOS or do anything.
I disconnected my HDD, then it said it cannot boot because no operation system found. Of course because the windows bootloader is on the HDD. At least I could get into the BIOS and then I was able to disable all booting devices except USB.

Then I disconnected all of my drives and I plugged in an Ubuntu live pendrive into the USB. Ubuntu loaded as it should.
Then I connected my HDD, the Ubuntu live pendrive was still in the USB. The booting process got stuck at the same place as before. Remember: I disabled all booting devices except the USB.

What the hell is going on? Did VeraCrypt brick my HDD completely? Will I be able to use it again or I have to destroy it somehow since I don't want to drop it into the trash without securely wiping its contents. The best would be if I could decrypt it somehow and get back the stuff what was on it, although I have backed up the most important stuff before trying to encrypt. I'm trying to get a SATA to USB cable and attach it as an external drive and see what could be done. If it will recognize something, what are my options? Is it possible to decrypt/repair it with the Linux version of VeraCrypt running on the Live Ubuntu pendrive?
And what could happened at all? I haven't read this kind of outcome anywhere yet.

Thanks for any help.
Jul 11, 2016 at 9:03 AM
SATA to USB was not needed. There was an option in the BIOS: SATA HotSwap which was disabled by default, after I enabled it, I could attach the HDD after Ubuntu booted and it was visible from gparted. I installed veracrypt on the live Ubuntu session and then I tried to mount the partition but it said it could not mount because of invalid password/pim/hash or the volume is invalid. I'm sure that the password is correct and I haven't used PIM.

What are my options now?

About the cause: some dumb BIOS firwares want to read the partitions from the HDD even if it is not set as bootable at the boot priority list. Because one of the partition got encrypted it cannot read it so it freezes. This issue also came up in case of FreeBSD install for some user.
I had the windows bootloader on the drive too, I wonder if I didn't have it there what could have happened, same error or it would have been OK.
I think veracrypt should warn the user about this danger because now it only warns in case of system drive encryption but not in the case when I only want to encrypt 1 partition on the disk but the disk has a windows bootloader partition also.
Jul 12, 2016 at 3:40 PM
I gave up, I reformatted the drives. I only plugged in the SSD then I reinstalled windows then I encrypted it. After that I plugged in the HDD and then encrypted that one also. Now windows still boots and if I boot from a Live Ubuntu session I can mount the HDD also.