The partition on the disk and the files on it are not visible, on my computer there is a yellow closed padlock on the disk – the disk has been encrypted by BitLocker. How to find the key and decrypt the disk

Disc lock

User Question

Good morning!

Help with a problem… I want to reinstall Windows 10, but I can’t make a copy of the files I need from the OS disk partition – Windows won’t boot and this partition doesn’t is simply not visible in various programs (I booted from LiveCD).

In one of the programs I saw that instead of the file system there was a note “BitLocker”. I understand that this disk has been encrypted. But I haven’t enabled it, please help me to remove this lock and decrypt the disk.

Salvation.

If you have installed modern Windows 10/11 on a relatively new device, there is no need at all to go to settings and manually enable BitLocker for disk encryption. (it “could” work in automatic mode // depends on OS version, presets…). In general, no wonder…

However, don’t rush into despair, something can be done to “save” the data… 👌

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The content of the article

How to “unlock” BitLocker and “see” partitions on the drive

How to understand that the disk was encrypted (and no other “problems” happened to it)

Of course, there are many more reasons for the “invisibility” of a disk than “a BitLocker” (a partition may not be displayed in a number of programs if the file system has crashed on it, for example). Therefore, to begin with, it will be logical to make sure that the reason is in the encryption …

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If Windows starts

If the current Windows 10/11 is on the “problem” partition (that you want to reinstall) it still works and loads somehow – try opening disk management there 👉.

Then see if there is an inscription about “encryption” in the disk note… How it might look is shown in the screenshot below. 👇 If there is, then this is our case! 👌

Disk Management - Encryption enabled!

Disk Management – Encryption enabled!

By the way, if you have Windows 11, then in the system settings (win + i) you can open a tab “System / Memory / Advanced Storage Option / Disks and Volumes” and display the properties of the desired volume. All information is also “at a glance”… 👇

Windows 11 Settings - Advanced storage settings - disks and volumes

Windows 11 Settings – Advanced storage settings – disks and volumes

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If Windows does not start

In this case, we need a LiveCD flash drive. If you haven’t prepared it in advance, you will need a working computer. Some links to help you:

  1. choose a 👉 LiveCD and write it to a USB key;
  2. how to 👉 boot from an “emergency” LiveCD flash drive.

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In my example, I’m using a LiveCD flash drive from Sergey Strelts.

Please note that if you start explorer and open “My computer” — discs that do not open will be marked with a yellow padlock icon (locked!). 👇 It means they are encrypted and without them key do not open! 👌

The disc is displayed with a padlock!

The disc is displayed with a padlock!

If you start Acronis Disk Director, the disk will be marked as “Not formatted”.

Acronis Disk Director - unformatted partition

Acronis Disk Director – unformatted partition

And in Minitool Partition Wizard, instead of File System, “BitLocker” will appear…

Minitool Partition Wizard - BitLocker File System

Minitool Partition Wizard – BitLocker File System

In fact, if you have something similar – the problem is diagnosed, below we will try to “solve” it …

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How to find the BitLocker key, unlock and decrypt the drive

Usually you only need to do this if you have important data on the disk. If you just want to install a new operating system (and don’t need the current data), you can simply delete all partitions on the disk and format it.

Now what if you need data…

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Option 1

If you have a “working” Windows 10/11 on this encrypted drive (which usually happens // she encrypted it) – then the easiest and best option would be to download it, open the system settings and in the section “Privacy and Security/Device Encryption” disable encryption! See example below. 👇

In order for the volume on the disk to become visible when booting from LiveCD (and in various software), you need to disable it.  encryption!

In order for the volume on the disk to become visible when booting from LiveCD (and in various software), you need to disable it. encryption!

After some time, the disc will be decrypted and you can use it from any program and LiveCD.

📌 cornkeep in mind that in this case you expose your device to a certain risk: whoever recovers your disc will be able to read all the information!

Disable encryption

Disable encryption

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Option 2

  1. 👉 ask for your administrator (or a specialist who maintains your PC). This usually applies to devices at work (at home – everyone does everything by themselves… 😉);
  2. 👉 if you manually activated BitLocker protection (or the previous owner of your computer) – you should definitely have a printout or a USB with a key. Actually, with the help of “this trick”, you can unlock the disk;
  3. 👉 if protection has been activated automatically (this happens on new operating systems and devices) – then 📌 verify your account on the Microsoft site – I provided a link to the page with the keys! (about.: many people think they don’t have an account – but they are often wrong! Usually try your Skype username or phone number for authorization!).
    BitLocker recovery keys - screenshot from Microsoft website

    BitLocker recovery keys – screenshot from Microsoft website

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In fact, after learning your key from the Microsoft website (☝️) – you can reboot from the LiveCD flash drive, open Explorer and go to “My computer”click on the disc – and enter the unlock key in the window.

Unlock a drive with a key

Unlock a drive with a key

If the key was entered correctly, you will see that the “closed padlock” icon on the disc has changed to “open” – i.e. You can now open this disc in Explorer and read all the information ‘it contains !

The disc has been unlocked!!!

The disc has been unlocked!!!

Of course, it will also be possible to use many utilities and programs for working with drives (however, a number of operations will not be available in them!).

In general, even such disk access will be enough to copy all the necessary and important information from it. That is to say, the task is solved! 👌

The programs see the disc!

The programs see the disc!

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Additions on the subject are welcome in the comments!

Well, that’s all I have for now…

Good luck!

👋

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