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On a clean install of Windows 10 (1703), SSD, UEFI boot:

DISKPART> list partition

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
  Partition 1    Recovery           450 MB  1024 KB
  Partition 2    System             100 MB   451 MB
  Partition 3    Reserved            16 MB   551 MB
  Partition 4    Primary            476 GB   567 MB

After enabling BitLocker:

DISKPART> list partition

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
  Partition 1    Recovery           450 MB  1024 KB
  Partition 2    System             100 MB   451 MB
  Partition 3    Reserved            16 MB   551 MB
  Partition 4    Primary            475 GB   567 MB
  Partition 5    Recovery           870 MB   476 GB

(2nd Recovery partition added at #5.)

Everything in terms of partition types and attributes appears to be identical - though only the first is labeled as "Recovery":

Partition 1
Type    : de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac
Hidden  : Yes
Required: Yes
Attrib  : 0X8000000000000001
Offset in Bytes: 1048576

  Volume ###  Ltr  Label        Fs     Type        Size     Status     Info
  ----------  ---  -----------  -----  ----------  -------  ---------  --------
* Volume 2         Recovery     NTFS   Partition    450 MB  Healthy    Hidden

Partition 5
Type    : de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac
Hidden  : Yes
Required: Yes
Attrib  : 0X8000000000000001
Offset in Bytes: 511196528640

  Volume ###  Ltr  Label        Fs     Type        Size     Status     Info
  ----------  ---  -----------  -----  ----------  -------  ---------  --------
* Volume 4                      NTFS   Partition    870 MB  Healthy    Hidden

I have seen this on at least 3 different installs on different computers. Yet, my primary desktop which is also BitLocker-encrypted does not have a 2nd recovery partition (#5) - and during a previous re-install on another system, I had a BitLocker-encrypted machine without the 2nd recovery partition as well.

  1. Are both needed?
  2. Is there any functional difference between one or the other?
  3. Can I remove one without any functional impact - even for recovery purposes?

I realize it is "only" 450 MB or 870 MB (depending upon the system) - but I'd rather not waste the space on "smaller" SSDs, especially if it isn't serving any value.

References already consulted:

0

When you do full disk encryption, the bootable system files have to remain on an unencrypted partition. Think about it, you can't have the software that does the unencryption have to be unencrypted first.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/device-security/bitlocker/bitlocker-frequently-asked-questions

I don't think you can safely remove this partition.

2
  • Sure - I get that. But the "boot" files shouldn't be on a "recovery" partition; that's what the "System" and "Reserved" partitions should be used for. This also doesn't explain why 2 recovery partitions are needed, nor why some BitLocker-encrypted systems have been observed with only the 1st recovery partition. I could possibly see one being needed for this, or a new one needed if the old is no longer compatible - but nothing here explains what each of the 2 recovery partitions is used for, how they differ, or why they are needed.
    – ziesemer
    Jul 20 '17 at 21:49
  • Well, you have stated yourself the new partition is not labeled as "recovery." It is simply type "recovery." Chances are it is like this - Windows 10 created a recovery environment to boot into of 450MB, it also created a 100MB system reserved partition for the initial boot configuration files. Bitlocker decided this wasn't big enough to fit on, and created a new one to store it's files on. Just a guess. But, I do know if Bitlocker created it, it is essential to the operation of Bitlocker. It could be a different between being UEFI and MBR also. Jul 20 '17 at 21:59
0

After using diskpart to assign drive letters to each of the mentioned partitions, I see that the 1st (labeled) recovery partition does contain about 345 MB of actual data in a "Recovery" folder. The 2nd (unlabeled) recovery partition is empty, shy of a small "System Volume Information" (hidden default NTFS folder) - which exists on both.

Looks like enabling BitLocker may have created this "in case it was needed" - which it wasn't. I removed the 2nd (unlabeled and empty) recovery partition, re-extended my primary partition to re-consume the space, and am still able to reboot into recovery mode. Even then, this is just a convenience - as any Windows 10 installation media can be used for the same purpose.

2
  • Looking at the volume details (volume type and attribute) that were provided by your question has linked to this page (technet.microsoft.com/en-GB/library/hh825686.aspx) which shows that the partition may be created to contain WinRE tools.
    – Kinnectus
    Sep 21 '17 at 16:31
  • @Kinnectus - sure, but again, this 2nd recovery partition was empty / did not contain the "Recovery" folder / WinRE tools. Looking at this again after a re-image, the 2nd did contain the "Recovery" folder with WinRE tools - but a copy also exists in the 1st. All I'm seeing is an unnecessary duplicate partition and a waste of premium disk space...
    – ziesemer
    Sep 21 '17 at 16:48

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