BitLocker is a useful feature in Windows that allows users to encrypt their drives easily. If you have enabled BitLocker encryption on your Windows laptop and want to reset the device but don’t have the BitLocker recovery key, the process may seem complicated as you will need the recovery key at each step.
However, there is a solution that can help you reset your laptop without the BitLocker recovery key. Before we proceed, let’s understand what BitLocker is and its benefits.
Understanding BitLocker Encryption BitLocker is a built-in feature in Windows that uses a 48-digit numerical password to encrypt data on a physical drive. It provides a recovery key that can be stored in a Microsoft account or other locations such as a portable hard drive or USB flash drive. The recovery key is crucial because losing it can make it difficult to disable BitLocker or access the data stored on the encrypted drive.
Finding the BitLocker Recovery Key
- Prior to attempting the reset method, it is important to try recovering the password. When resetting a laptop, you will need to enter the recovery key. Even if you have secured the BIOS, you will still need to provide the BitLocker key during the boot process.
- BitLocker always emphasizes the need to back up the recovery keys, depending on how you have secured them. If you have a Microsoft account, you can log in to retrieve the keys. Microsoft usually sends these credentials when you activate BitLocker.
- If you are working in an organization and have signed in to their email account, the BitLocker keys might be found on the Azure Active Directory of that organization. In this case, you need to consult the administrator to obtain the keys.
- Group Policies (GPO) is another Windows OS feature that allows you to back up BitLocker keys from one computer to another in the Active Directory. This is applicable when you are on the same workstations. However, GPO will only be effective if you have previously saved a backup of the keys. If you have forgotten the BitLocker key, you won’t be able to access the GPO backup feature.
Resetting the Laptop without BitLocker Recovery Keys If you are unable to retrieve the BitLocker recovery keys, you can proceed with the following method to clear the protected system drive and reinstall Windows OS on your computer. Please note that this method will erase the encrypted drive along with all the data stored on it. Proceed only if you have a backup or are willing to take the risk.
- A USB drive containing Windows Installation Media. If you haven’t created a bootable USB drive, you can use the Windows Media Creation Tool on another PC to create one.
Steps to Reset Windows without BitLocker Recovery Keys:
- Turn off your computer, disconnect any external peripherals, and insert the USB drive.
- Turn on your laptop and press the relevant key (such as F8 or F12) to access the BIOS menu. The key to enter the BIOS is usually displayed on the screen.
- Once in the BIOS, set the USB as the primary boot order and save the changes by clicking on the “Save & Exit” button.
- Press the Shift and F10 keys together to open the command prompt.
- In the command prompt window, enter the following command to access disk partition:
- Type the command below to view the list of partitions:
- Once you have the list of drives, use the following command:
select disk 0
- To determine the allocated space for the drives, enter the command:
- You will see a list of drives associated with your laptop along with their occupied sizes. To select the system drive (usually C), use the command:
select volume #
Note: Replace “#” with the number corresponding to your C drive. For example, if your C drive is labeled as volume 1, use “select volume 1”.
- After selecting the volume, delete it with the following command:
delete volume override
- Exit the command prompt by entering:
- Now, you can turn off your laptop and turn it on again.
By following these steps, you have successfully removed BitLocker from the system drive. Although this method erases the system drive, it is the only way to remove BitLocker from a drive.
You can now proceed with reinstalling Windows OS on your laptop. The installation process is straightforward. Insert the bootable USB drive and follow the instructions below:
- Access the BIOS menu, select USB as the primary boot order.
- The Windows Installation page will appear. Select your country, adjust the settings, and click on the “Next” button.
- When a pop-up window appears asking for the product key, select “I don’t have the product key”.
- Read and agree to the terms and conditions of Windows by clicking on the “Agree” button.
- Choose the “Custom” option to install Windows OS.
- A list of drives will appear. Delete all the partitions by selecting each one and clicking on the “Delete” button. Repeat this for all the partitions.
- Select the partition where you want to install Windows and click on the “Next” button.
- The Windows installation process will begin. Once it is completed, you can customize Windows OS according to your preferences.
Now you have successfully reset your laptop without the BitLocker recovery key. It is important to note that this method erases your drives due to the lost BitLocker key. If you require a fresh start and are willing to accept the loss of data, then this method is suitable for you. However, in the future, if you choose to use BitLocker again, make sure to keep the key in a secure location or have a printed copy available.
In conclusion, this method requires some command-line skills and results in data loss. Proceed with caution and only choose this method if you are prepared for a fresh start despite the potential loss of data.