Warning on Windows 11, dual-boot and BitLocker

This may be very [oddly] specific, but I thought it’s a good idea to mention it since a lot of people seem to dual boot their machines here

So

  • You’re planning to dual boot Windows 11 and something else
  • You have a fairly old Microsoft Account that you haven’t used in a while
  • You’re disabling Secure Boot

What’s gonna happen is next time you log into Windows you’re gonna see the BitLocker screen. ‘Hey, Secure Boot policy changed, type the recovery code in please’. The usual.

Except you may have issues getting that recovery code

  • You probably did not enable the BitLocker manually. Windows 11 installation does it for you. Which is a broadly good thing
  • Since you haven’t enabled it yourself, you don’t have the recovery code. But it’s supposed to be in your Microsoft account. The BitLocker screen even has a link that will redirect you here https://account.microsoft.com/devices/recoverykey
  • Now the kicker. This page only works when your OneDrive account is active. Yes. There is probably some good technical reason for it, but that is not obvious at all, and MS support was completely useless in my case.

If your OneDrive account was frozen because of inactivity, you’re gonna be baffled with ‘Try a different URL. We don’t have anything to show’ message which doesn’t look even the least bit helpful. Keep in mind that unfreezing your OneDrive account takes time (some hours).

So the moral here is probably, “If you’re pushed towards using drive encryption, figure out the recovery procedures first before you play around with your hardware”.

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This is a perfect example of why I’ve stuck with a local account for years. That way, I can simply copy my Bitlocker key to another medium, instead of it being on their servers. Unfortunately for newer users, they keep trying harder and harder to stick you with only a MS Account login by default.

Thanks for taking the time to share this. This is one scenario I’m happy to avoid.

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I have a similar issue. I built the framework laptop (It’s beautiful) then started looking a bit deeper into dual booting because I wanted to mess with linux. I decided to install windows first and did not expect it to be a nightmare.

I’ll post my nightmare here just to echo that Windows Bit locker is problematic. It will ruin your windows side of the dual boot. Be warned

Using the recommended media creation tool the download has failed almost consistently (succeeded only once so far) and I don’t know why. After the one successful run, I go to start installing ubuntu which notifies me that bitlocker on windows may cause problems while active. Bitlocker did get triggered and now requires a recovery key.

Microsoft wanted me to sign in with a microsoft account. So I make a new one, link my phone number, and create a local account. Except the recovery link doesn’t send a text and the only other security option it provides is to wait 30 days for security reasons… I can’t use my windows OS for 30 days unless I find a solution.

I’m working on trying solutions currently and might seek help if I give up. But to anyone considering dual boot, just know that windows will be very problematic.

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