BitLocker Drive Encryption is a data protection feature that integrates with the operating system and addresses the threats of data theft or exposure from lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned drives and computers.
BitLocker is the Windows encryption technology that protects your data from unauthorized access by encrypting your drive and requiring one or more factors of authentication before it will unlock it.
Windows will require a BitLocker recovery key when it detects a possible unauthorized attempt to access the data. This extra step is a security precaution intended to keep your data safe and secure. This can also happen if you make changes in hardware, firmware, or software which BitLocker cannot distinguish from a possible attack. In these cases, BitLocker may require the extra security of the recovery key even if the user is an authorized owner of the device. This is to be certain that the person trying to unlock the data really is authorized.
Your BitLocker recovery key is a unique 48-digit numerical password that can be used to unlock your system if BitLocker is otherwise unable to confirm for certain that the attempt to access the system drive is authorized.
This tutorial will show you how to back up the BitLocker recovery key for a drive in Windows 10 and Windows 11.
It is extremely important to keep a back up of your BitLocker recovery key for each encrypted drive available in case BitLocker Recovery asks for it.
If you are unable to locate a required BitLocker recovery key for an OS drive and are unable to revert a configuration change that might have cause it to be required, you’ll need to reset or clean install Windows. This will cause total data loss on the OS drive.
If you are unable to locate a required BitLocker recovery key for a data or removable drive, then you will not be able to access the data on the encrypted drive. You will still be able to format the BitLocker encrypted drive to use the drive again, but you will lose all data on the drive.
EXAMPLE: BitLocker Recovery
EXAMPLE: BitLocker Recovery Key
Open the Control Panel (icons view), and click/tap on the BitLocker Drive Encryption icon.
Expand open the BitLocker encrypted drive (ex: "C") you want, and click/tap on the Back up your recovery key link. (see screenshot below)
Select an available option for how you want to back up your recovery key. (see screenshots below)
Click/tap on Finish when your recovery key has been saved. (see screenshot below)
You can close the Control Panel if you like.