The Windows OS has various security features, one of them is the BitLocker feature. It was introduced in 2007 as a disk encryption software that uses AES encryption algorithm or XTS mode with a 128-bit or 256-bit key. It was first included in the Windows Vista OS, the successor to Windows XP.
BitLocker is used to encrypt all user files to mitigate unauthorized data access, including system files and configurations. It can also encrypt removable devices and individual files. But what if your device is accidentally locked by BitLocker for some unknown reason? Where can you find the recovery key? Read on to learn more.
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What is a BitLocker Recovery Key?
When your hard drive is locked by BitLocker, you will see the screen below:
Below the Recovery key ID, there are important links that can help you later:
Here’s how to find your key:
– Try your Microsoft account at: aka.ms/myrecoverykey
– For more information go to: aka.ms/recoverykeyfaq
The recovery key is a 48-digit key provided by Windows. You will need this to unlock your hard drive and also to confirm that you are the owner or someone who is authorized to access this device.
How is BitLocker Activated on my Device?
BitLocker starts protecting your device due to any of these three factors:
- Your modern device has an updated version of Windows and meets the requirements to enable BitLocker automatically: Most modern laptops and computers will allow necessary security features, including BitLocker. In this case, the recovery key is automatically saved to your Microsoft account before it is activated.
- An administrator of your device activated BitLocker protection as a part of data encryption: If you are using a device at work, chances are it may contain confidential data, which is protected through BitLocker to block any attempts of data leaks. An owner or administrator may activate BitLocker through the Settings or Control Panel app.
- Your device is still managed by a school administrator: Similar to devices for work, computers that are currently managed (or previously managed) by the school administrators can also be encrypted by BitLocker.
Where Can I Find my BitLocker Key?
As mentioned earlier, BitLocker is always activated on behalf of a user with full administrative access to a device. It may be you, someone at work, or an administrator that manages your device. Setting up BitLocker always requires creating a recovery key before being activated.
Therefore, it is best to first ask your device administrator if they have kept the recovery key. If you set up the BitLocker feature yourself, you should also have it ready before activation.
But what if you lost the recovery key and you cannot contact the device administrator? Here are some places where you can find the BitLocker recovery key for your device:
In your Microsoft Account
On another device, go to the official Microsoft website and Sign in to your account; from there, find your recovery key. If someone also has access to your Microsoft account, you can ask them to find and send the recovery key to you.
Once you are logged in, here are the steps to find your BitLocker recovery key:
- Go to Device > All Devices.
- Find your BitLocker-protected device or computer and select Manage.
- Click Monitor and select Recovery keys.
- If you have multiple computers, you can identify the correct recovery key by the Device Name. It should also match the Recovery Key ID displayed on the BitLocker-protected computer screen.
- Copy or take a picture of the recovery key and enter it into the field. Your device will soon be unlocked or decrypted.
On a USB flash drive
The recovery key may be saved to your flash drive as a text file. Open it on another device and enter the 48-digit key. Once you find it, enter the key to the BitLocker screen on your computer and see if it will unlock the device.
In an Azure Active Directory Account
If your device is signed in to an organization using a school or work account, your recovery key may be stored in the organization’s Azure AD account that is linked to your device.
You can try to access it directly by signing in on your account at aka.ms/aadrecoverykey. Also, you can try to contact a system administrator that has access to the recovery key for your device.
Contact your system administrator
If your device is still a part of a domain (work or school device), contact your system administrator for the BitLocker recovery key.
BitLocker is a superb, built-in security feature that is exclusive to computers that run the Windows operating system. It protects your device from intruders, hackers, and other users with unauthorized access by encrypting all files on the drive. BitLocker also ensures that data won’t be lost, unless the correct recovery key is provided.
Recovering your BitLocker-protected computer can be overwhelming once you do not know what to do. Therefore, this guide will hopefully help you in finding your BitLocker recovery key and further regain access to your device.