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How to Recover Data from an Inaccessible BitLocker encrypted drive

If your hard drive is encrypted by BitLocker and the drive is inaccessible after unlocking BitLocker encrypted data, don't worry, you can still recover files and data from an inaccessible encrypted drive by using the BitLocker Repair Tool. The BitLocker Repair Tool (Repair-bde.exe) can be used to access and recover data from corrupted disks encrypted by BitLocker. A valid BitLocker password, recovery key, or startup key (.BEK file) is used to decrypt the data.

The first thing you need to do is:

  • Make sure you are not running a Home version of Windows.
  • Make sure you have the password, recovery key, or startup key .BEK file location.
  • There is an empty output volume (drive) and its size is larger than the damaged BitLocker protected drive. (The contents of the output volume will be completely removed and overwritten by the decrypted content of the damaged BitLocker drive.)

Prepare for an output drive

What we need to do is try to repair or decrypt the damaged BitLocker encrypted volume using the provided recovery information to recreate the critical parts of the drive and save recoverable data to another volume. Let's assume that we have a recovery key file on the computer and the startup key .BEK file under USB flash drive called G:.

Steps to Recover data from a damaged BitLocker drive with BitLocker Repair Tool

Step 1: Open a Command Prompt as an administrator.

Press Win + X to open the WinX menu, then press A to select and open Command Prompt (Admin).

Open command prompt admin

Step 2: Execute one of the following BitLocker repair commands depending on your situation.

1. Recover data from a damaged BitLocker drive using a Password

repair-bde <source drive letter>: <output drive letter>: -pw -f

For example: repair-bde H: E: -pw -f

Repair with password

When prompted, enter the BitLocker password used to unlock this drive and press Enter.

Run chkdsk E: /f on the output drive if ACTION REQUIRED.

2. Recover data from a damaged BitLocker drive using a recovery key

Type the following command at an elevated command prompt and press Enter.

repair-bde F: E: -rp BirLockerRecoveryKey –F

Repair BitLocker drive use recovery key

Tips: BitLockerRecoveryKey is the actual 48 digit recovery key for the encrypted drive.

The location of bitlocker recovery key

3. Recover data from a damaged BitLocker OS drive using a startup key

This option is only available for operating system drives that have been configured to be unlocked by a USB flash drive. Type the command below at an elevated command prompt and press Enter.

manage-bde -protectors -get C:

Make note of the External Key File Name. This is the name of the BitLocker startup key file for this drive.

Get the name of BitLocker startup key file

Type the command below at an elevated command prompt and press Enter.

repair-bde <source OS drive letter>: <output drive letter>: -rk "<Full path of startup key .BEK file>" -f

For example:

repair-bde C: E: -rk "G:\CFB586D0-6A39-422E-B232-1BE2EDDFA0D6.BEK" -f

Repair damaged drive with startup key

Run chkdsk E: /f on the output volume before viewing the decrypted data.

Run disk checking tool