How to clone a Truecrypt encrypted harddisk with dd

My working laptop needed a bigger harddisk but I didn’t want to setup a new system. The goal was to clone the whole System to a newer and bigger drive. The Setup was the following:

  • Thinkpad X61s
  • Old harddisk: 250GB
  • New harddisk: 500GB
  • OS: Windows XP
  • Enryption: Truecrypt whole disk encryption

My first idea was to use Acronis True Image to clone the whole disk, but because of the pre-boot authentication that Truecrypt uses that doesn’t work. So, my next choice was the „dd“ command.

The whole process worked that way:

  • Connected the new harddisk via a usb-adapter to the laptop
  • Booted Ubuntu 8.10 in live-mode
  • Checked the installed disks with „fdisk -l“ (In my setup the old disk was sda and the new one was sdb)
  • Be careful when you choose the order of the devices for the dd command, for my case I used this command to clone the disk
    • dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb conv=notrunc,noerror
  • After waiting for a looong time (about 6 hours) the dd command finished successfully
  • Old disk outa here
  • New disk into the laptop
  • Pushed the power button, the pre-boot authentication worked and the system started

Now comes the most important thing. Because of the whole disk encryption, Truecrypt doesn’t know anything about the new free storage. To configure the system properly, I had to decrypt the whole disk. After decrypting I used Acronis Disc Director to consolidate my second partition and the free space. After that I encrypted the whole disk again using Truecrypt and that’s it. Everything works fine and I have to say: dd is great!

A faster way:

In my case a faster way would have been (because there’s no way to resize the truecrypt whole disk encryption schema):

  • Decrypt the whole disk
  • Using Acronis True Image to clone the disk (safe about 4-5 hours)
  • Encrypt the new disk
  • Done


Use this howto on your own risk, I don’t assume responsibility for destroyed data or anything else!!!


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