Finding your Bitlocker Recovery Key

A common theme I get asked about is how to recover a lost/forgotten Bitlocker Recovery Key.

This unfortunately arises partly due to a lack of understanding about the strength of Bitlocker. Whilst Microsoft quite rightly encourages its use to “protect” your data. They often fail to get across the fact that it provides a level of protection most companies would be impressed with. This means correct storage of the Recovery Key is essential, although this is often something people only learn when faced with data loss.

Why is Bitlocker asking me for the Recovery Key?

Officially Bitlocker has a number of reasons it will demand the Recovery Key, rather than the usual pin, password, etc.. The idea of these is to protect your system data after possible tampering has occurred. These include:
– Configuring the system to boot from another media (CD, DVD, USB key…)
– Changes to the partitions on the encrypted hard drive (e.g. expanding, shrinking, creating or deleting of partitions)
– Entering the Bitlocker pin/password incorrectly too many times
– Entering your Windows password incorrectly too many times
– Changes to BIOS/UEFI settings (not all, but many settings will impact the boot process and trigger Bitlocker recovery)
– Installation of additional language packs for all accounts (as this changes the boot configuration database)

In reality, these reasons will evolve over time to incorporate any new areas of change that Microsoft feel are potential signs of tampering. It is therefore essential to have ready access to your Bitlocker Recovery Key.

I CAN log into the encrypted drive, can I find and save the Recovery Key?

Yes, you can. If you don’t already have it stored OUTSIDE your PC, I strongly recommend you do this. The below video will show you how to u

I CANNOT log into the encrypted drive, can I find and save the Recovery Key?

You can’t simply bypass the Recovery Key. My video does however also cover this scenario, in terms of where your Recovery Key may have been saved. The below version should start at the 1 minute point, where I discuss this.

I hope this helps you find your Bitlocker Recovery Key for Windows.


I'm passionate about technology, and particularly helping people make the most of it. I've spent the last 30 years helping others make the most of technology. My career started in IBM, but I choose to move into smaller business environments, to use a breadth of skills, and help businesses step change their IT services. My skills range from user based technology, through business systems (applications) to infrastructure. I also have a long background in IT security. I focus on what I consider to be "productive technology", i.e. adding genuine value to peoples lives. I'm not a big gamer, and don't hold much interest in what I consider to be disposable consumer technologies. During the day, you'll find me consulting with businesses or heading up an IT department. At the weekend, you'll find me sat at my Linux PC, writing PHP or Python code, or trying to help others on Twitter, this blog, or my YouTube channel: Artexic.