How Can I Access My External Drive If BitLocker Wont Let Me In?

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File encryption is a fantastic thing. While I do not run full-drive encryption on my Windows desktop at house– courtesy of BitLocker– thats only due to the fact that Im the only one who ever uses my system and I dont truly keep anything of value on it. (All my personal documents and anything I would otherwise secure reside on a NAS box thats normally powered down.).
I do this partially because Im lazy, partially due to the fact that I want peak performance from my PC, and partly due to the fact that I dread the day when encryption screws up– or Im absentminded about whatever I need to do if or when I need to re-install Windows 10– and I cant access my data.
Its a circumstance Lifehacker reader Jon is all too acquainted with. As he writes for this weeks Tech 911 Q&A:.

” I have a Western Digital external disk drive and a folder on the difficult drive is encrypted with Windows Bitlocker. I forgot I did this, re-installed windows, and no longer can access the files. Exists a method to fix this?”.

You did document your healing key, right?
This is the specific sort of situation I do not wish to handle, which is why I choose to not utilize Bitlocker. Ill stay with something like VeraCrypt, simply so my os isnt connected to the file encryption procedure. That, and I just need to remember one gigantic password, which I can store in a password manager, make a note of and tape under my desk, or save through whatever other spy-proof method you can think about.
You should have been prompted to save a BitLocker healing secret when you enabled encryption on your external drive. If you cant remember doing so, or you have no idea where you stowed away that key, thats the primary problem well be handling.
Opening an encrypted drive is basic. In theory, all you have to do is fire up File Explorer, right-click on the drive, and unlock it. Youll be prompted to enter the password or PIN you establish when you initialized BitLocker, and thats it.
If you do not know the password or PIN you utilized to set up BitLocker, thats where the recovery secret comes into the picture. Thats the nature of encryption. Anybody with physical or remote access to your system might zip right into your data after a few minutes work, entirely invalidating the point of a recovery key to start with.
That all said, you have one lifeline even if all this talk of a recovery key doesnt jog your memory. Its possible that you might have saved said key to your Microsoft account when you set up your BitLocker encryption.
If its not there, and you have no other memory of where you may have stored said secret, consider your information gone. As the developers of the popular M3 Data Recovery tool explain:.

G/O Media may get a commission.

” As we understand, BitLocker is a disk-level encryption service. So if you forgot BitLocker password and lost BitLocker recovery key, data healing software (Including M3 BitLocker Recovery) doesnt and wont break into your BitLocker-encrypted drive. This is as much of a policy issue as it is a technological limitation.”.

Im enthusiastic that link will assist you out. If not, you might desire to go through the common passwords you favor to see if you potentially used among them when establishing your BitLocker drive. Aside from that, this is a valuable suggestion that even external drives should be backed up someplace– preferably to an unencrypted place that youre securing with physical gain access to, or even some kind of cloud-storage service provider that can handle file encryption itself.

Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac?

While I dont run full-drive encryption on my Windows desktop at home– courtesy of BitLocker– thats only due to the fact that Im the only one who ever uses my system and I do not really keep anything of value on it.” I have a Western Digital external tough drive and a folder on the difficult drive is encrypted with Windows Bitlocker. If you do not understand the password or PIN you utilized to set up BitLocker, thats where the recovery secret comes into the image. Its possible that you may have conserved stated secret to your Microsoft account when you set up your BitLocker file encryption. If you forgot BitLocker password and lost BitLocker healing key, information recovery software (Including M3 BitLocker Recovery) doesnt and will not break into your BitLocker-encrypted drive.