How to Turn off BitLocker on External Drive [3 Ways]

How to turn off BitLocker on external drive? This article offers three simple yet powerful ways as well as the best alternative to manage your BitLocker if you have encountered the “can’t turn off BitLocker” error.


By Hedy / Updated on March 12, 2024

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Can you turn off BitLocker on external drive?

Yes, you can turn off BitLocker on external hard drive in Windows systems. BitLocker is a disk encryption program included with some Windows operating systems such as Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Pro, and Enterprise that provides extra security to your data by encrypting the entire disk.

Keep in mind that turning off BitLocker will remove encryption from your drive, so make sure you've backed up your important data before doing this.

How to turn off BitLocker on external drive?

Method 1: Deactivate BitLocker Encryption via Control Panel

To disable BitLocker through the Control Panel, follow these steps:

Step 1. Access the Control Panel and navigate to "System and Security" > "BitLocker Drive Encryption".


Step 2. Click on "Turn off BitLocker" for the specific drive you wish to decrypt.


Step 3. If the drive is in a locked state, click on [Unlock drive], enter the password, and proceed to turn off BitLocker.

Step 4. Confirm your decision to decrypt the drive by clicking "Yes". The decryption process will commence, and the drive will no longer have protection.


Method 2: Disable BitLocker through Command Prompt

For turning off BitLocker on external hard drive using the command line, utilize the "manage-bde" command in Command Prompt with the following steps:

Step 1. Open Command Prompt as an administrator.

Step 2. If the drive is locked, use the command:

manage-bde -unlock F: -RecoveryPassword YOUR-BITLOCKER-RECOVERY-KEY

Step 3. Then, employ the command to disable BitLocker for a specific drive:

manage-bde -off F:

Replace F with the drive's letter (e.g., E:). Example: manage-bde -off E:


Step 4. The command will initiate the decryption process. Be patient, especially for larger drives or significant data volumes.

Method 3: Turn Off BitLocker using PowerShell

For PowerShell enthusiasts, here is how to turn off BitLocker on external drive utilizing the Disable-BitLocker cmdlet:

Step 1. Right-click on the Start button and select "Windows PowerShell (Admin)".

Step 2. Execute the following PowerShell command:

Disable-BitLocker -MountPoint "X:"

Replace X with the drive's letter (e.g., E). Example: Disable-BitLocker -MountPoint "E:"


Step 3. Allow time for the decryption process to complete. After these steps, BitLocker protection will be disabled, and the drive will be decrypted.

Error: Can’t turn off BitLocker

There may be several reasons why you can't turn off BitLocker. One common reason is that BitLocker might be actively encrypting or decrypting your drive, and you can't turn it off during the process. Make sure encryption or decryption is complete.

If this is not the problem, check to see if BitLocker is enforced through Group Policy on the computer. Sometimes system administrators set policies that prevent users from disabling BitLocker.

Finally, make sure you have the necessary permissions to manage BitLocker. If you are not the administrator of the computer, you may not have permission to turn it off.

If you are worrying about turning off BitLocker failed issue, you can try an easier workaround to disable BitLocker on your external hard drive. Keep reading to get the details.

Try the best BitLocker to turn on/off external drive encryption easily

A powerful disk encryption tool called AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional would be the best alternative to the Windows built-in BitLocker program. It is compatible with a wide range of operating systems including Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7, encompassing even the Home Edition of Windows.

In addition to enabling/disabling BitLocker, it comes with multiple other features that enable users to effectively manage BitLocker drives including backing up recovery keys, changing passwords, and locking/unlocking encryption drives.

With this software, you can easily and safely turn off BitLocker on the external drive. Now, you can download the demo version to practice and preview operations.

Download Pro DemoWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Find the encrypted drive you would like to decrypt and click the option "Turn off BitLocker".


Step 2. There are 2 ways available to decrypt the drive: Use password to decrypt the drive and Use recovery key to decrypt the drive. Please select either way as per your need.

If you select "Use a password to decrypt the drive", please enter the right password and then click the "Decrypt" button.


If you select "Use a recovery key to decrypt the drive", please enter the recovery key saved in the TXT file or printed when you encrypted the drive, and then click the "Decrypt" button.


Step 3. Then, the decryption process will start and it might take time to decrypt the drive. Once the decryption process is finished, please click "Completed". Finally, the BitLocker on the drive is decrypted.



How to turn off BitLocker on external drive? This article has introduced three simple yet powerful ways to make it. You can choose one based on your situation. Besides, it also concludes an easy BitLocker alternative called AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to help you turn it off safely and effectively.

In addition to BitLocker encryption, AOMEI Partition Assistant comes with many useful ways to assist you to manage your computer better like moving programs to another drive, recovering lost files, bypassing administrator password, and more.

Hedy · Staff Editor
Hedy is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is very good at solving problems of partition management, and she wants to share all the problems she had already solved to users who met the same questions.