I have a hard drive protected by Bitlocker. Login, password and restore key are unknown. All I want to do is wipe the whole hard drive. I have no access to the drive when I try to boot from a Windows installation disc, since it asked for the restore key that I don’t have. Is there any way to format the whole encrypted drive and make it usable again?"
An encrypted hard drive is a hard drive using disk encryption to protect information from converting it into unreadable code that cannot be deciphered by unauthorized people. You can use the disk encryption software or hardware to encrypt every bit of data that stores on a disk.
Starting with Windows Vista, Windows provides users a feature named BitLocker, which is a full disk encryption solution designed to protect data by providing encryption for entire volumes. It uses the AES encryption algorithm to encrypt the whole hard drive.
Can you format an encrypted hard drive?
In general, you cannot decrypt the encrypted hard drive if you forgot the password or restore key after you encrypted the entire hard drive. What should you do if you want to reuse the hard drive? Don’t worry if you have no idea. In this article, we will guide you to solve this problem. The only way to solve the encrypted hard drive is to format encrypted hard drive properly.
How to format a BitLocker encrypted hard drive on Windows
Here are two ways to format encrypted drives. One is to unlock the BitLocker drive from command prompt, the other is to format/erase with a free third-party tool. You can refer to the following instructions:
▶ Solution 1. Unlock BitLocker encrypted drive from command prompt
1. Hit Win+R key, then type diskpart and press Enter.
2. Then input these commands below in turn:
◆ list disk ◆ select disk n, where the n stands for the disk you want to format. ◆ list partition ◆ select partition n, where the n stands for the encrypted hard drive you want to delete. ◆ delete partition override
3. Type exit to close window. This will wipe all the data on the encrypted hard drive. Then you could create new partition on that drive again.
▶ Solution 2. Format BitLocker encrypted HDD with free partition software
AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a professional disk partitioning software, which helps you to figure out the best two solutions to format an encrypted hard drive: Format encrypted hard drive and delete BitLocker partition to create new partition.
In addition, it can also resize BitLocker partitions on Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. Please free download it and have a look at how it works.
1. Install and launch the program. Right-click the BitLocker encrypted hard drive and choose Format Partition.
2. Select the file system for the encrypted HDD.
3. Click Apply to format a BitLocker encrypted hard drive without key.
Then restart your computer, you will find the BitLocker has been removed.
✎ Option 2. Alternative to format BitLocker encrypted hard drive directly
There has another way: you have to delete all partitions on the encrypted HDD, then create a new partition on it, then you will find that you have already remove BitLocker from the encrypted hard drive. The steps are listed below:
1. Run the program, and click the encrypted hard drive and choose Delete Partition.
2. Select a method to delete the partition, hit OK.
3. Click Apply to unlock a BitLocker encrypted drive without password.
4. Then right-click the BitLocker encrypted hard drive, select Create Partition.
5. Choose the proper file system for that partition, hit OK to continue.
6. Press Apply to create a new partition without BitLocker encryption.
After these ways to remove BitLocker from encrypted hard drive, you can use the hard drive now. Besides, AOMEI Partition Assistant allows you to remove write protection from USB, etc.