BitLocker Use BitLocker Drive Encryption Tools to manage BitLocker - Windows Security (2023)

  • Article
  • Applies to:
    Windows 11, ✅ Windows 10, ✅ Windows Server 2022, ✅ Windows Server 2019, ✅ Windows Server 2016

This article for the IT professional describes how to use tools to manage BitLocker.

BitLocker Drive Encryption Tools include the command-line tools manage-bde and repair-bde and the BitLocker cmdlets for Windows PowerShell.

Both manage-bde and the BitLocker cmdlets can be used to perform any task that can be accomplished through the BitLocker control panel and are appropriate to use for automated deployments and other scripting scenarios.

Repair-bde is a special circumstance tool that is provided for disaster recovery scenarios in which a BitLocker protected drive can't be unlocked normally or using the recovery console.

  1. Manage-bde
  2. Repair-bde
  3. BitLocker cmdlets for Windows PowerShell


Manage-bde is a command-line tool that can be used for scripting BitLocker operations. Manage-bde offers additional options not displayed in the BitLocker control panel. For a complete list of the manage-bde.exe options, see the Manage-bde command-line reference.

Manage-bde includes fewer default settings and requires greater customization for configuring BitLocker. For example, using just the manage-bde.exe -on command on a data volume will fully encrypt the volume without any authenticating protectors. A volume encrypted in this manner still requires user interaction to turn on BitLocker protection, even though the command successfully completed because an authentication method needs to be added to the volume for it to be fully protected. The following sections provide examples of common usage scenarios for manage-bde.

Using manage-bde with operating system volumes

Listed below are examples of basic valid commands for operating system volumes. In general, using only the manage-bde.exe -on <drive letter> command will encrypt the operating system volume with a TPM-only protector and no recovery key. However, many environments require more secure protectors such as passwords or PIN and expect information recovery with a recovery key. It's recommended to add at least one primary protector plus a recovery protector to an operating system volume.

A good practice when using manage-bde.exe is to determine the volume status on the target system. Use the following command to determine volume status:

manage-bde.exe -status

This command returns the volumes on the target, current encryption status, encryption method, and volume type (operating system or data) for each volume:

BitLocker Use BitLocker Drive Encryption Tools to manage BitLocker - Windows Security (1)

The following example illustrates enabling BitLocker on a computer without a TPM chip. Before beginning the encryption process, the startup key needed for BitLocker must be created and saved to a USB drive. When BitLocker is enabled for the operating system volume, BitLocker will need to access the USB flash drive to obtain the encryption key. In this example, the drive letter E represents the USB drive. Once the commands are run, it will prompt to reboot the computer to complete the encryption process.

manage-bde.exe -protectors -add C: -startupkey E:manage-bde.exe -on C:


After the encryption is completed, the USB startup key must be inserted before the operating system can be started.

An alternative to the startup key protector on non-TPM hardware is to use a password and an ADaccountorgroup protector to protect the operating system volume. In this scenario, the protectors are added first. To add the protectors, enter the following command:

manage-bde.exe -protectors -add C: -pw -sid <user or group>

The above command will require the password protector to be entered and confirmed before adding them to the volume. With the protectors enabled on the volume, BitLocker can then be turned on.

On computers with a TPM, it's possible to encrypt the operating system volume without defining any protectors using manage-bde.exe. To enable BitLocker on a computer with a TPM without defining any protectors, enter the following command:

manage-bde.exe -on C:

The above command encrypts the drive using the TPM as the default protector. If verify if a TPM protector is available, the list of protectors available for a volume can be listed by running the following command:

 manage-bde.exe -protectors -get <volume>

Using manage-bde with data volumes

Data volumes use the same syntax for encryption as operating system volumes but they don't require protectors for the operation to complete. Encrypting data volumes can be done using the base command:

manage-bde.exe -on <drive letter>

or additional protectors can be added to the volume first. It's recommended to add at least one primary protector plus a recovery protector to a data volume.

A common protector for a data volume is the password protector. In the example below, a password protector is added to the volume and then BitLocker is turned on.

manage-bde.exe -protectors -add -pw C:manage-bde.exe -on C:


Hard disk areas on which BitLocker stores critical information could be damaged, for example, when a hard disk fails or if Windows exits unexpectedly.

The BitLocker Repair Tool (Repair-bde) can be used to access encrypted data on a severely damaged hard disk if the drive was encrypted with BitLocker. Repair-bde can reconstruct critical parts of the drive and salvage recoverable data as long as a valid recovery password or recovery key is used to decrypt the data. If the BitLocker metadata data on the drive has become corrupt, the backup key package in addition to the recovery password or recovery key must be supplied. This key package is backed up in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) if the default settings for AD DS backup are used. With this key package and either the recovery password or recovery key, portions of a corrupted BitLocker-protected drive can be decrypted. Each key package will work only for a drive that has the corresponding drive identifier. The BitLocker Recovery Password Viewer can be used to obtain this key package from AD DS.


If recovery information is not being backed up to AD DS or if key packages need to be saved in an alternative way, the command:

manage-bde.exe -KeyPackage

can be used to generate a key package for a volume.

The Repair-bde command-line tool is intended for use when the operating system doesn't start or when the BitLocker Recovery Console can't be started. Use Repair-bde if the following conditions are true:

  • The drive has been encrypted using BitLocker Drive Encryption.

  • Windows doesn't start, or the BitLocker recovery console can't be started.

  • There isn't a backup copy of the data that is contained on the encrypted drive.


Damage to the drive may not be related to BitLocker. Therefore, it is recommended to try other tools to help diagnose and resolve the problem with the drive before using the BitLocker Repair Tool. The Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) provides additional options to repair computers.

The following limitations exist for Repair-bde:

  • The Repair-bde command-line tool can't repair a drive that failed during the encryption or decryption process.

  • The Repair-bde command-line tool assumes that if the drive has any encryption, then the drive has been fully encrypted.

For more information about using repair-bde, see Repair-bde.

BitLocker cmdlets for Windows PowerShell

Windows PowerShell cmdlets provide a new way for administrators to use when working with BitLocker. Using Windows PowerShell's scripting capabilities, administrators can integrate BitLocker options into existing scripts with ease. The list below displays the available BitLocker cmdlets.

  • ADAccountOrGroup
  • ADAccountOrGroupProtector
  • Confirm
  • MountPoint
  • Password
  • PasswordProtector
  • Pin
  • RecoveryKeyPath
  • RecoveryKeyProtector
  • RecoveryPassword
  • RecoveryPasswordProtector
  • Service
  • StartupKeyPath
  • StartupKeyProtector
  • TpmAndPinAndStartupKeyProtector
  • TpmAndPinProtector
  • TpmAndStartupKeyProtector
  • TpmProtector
  • WhatIf
  • Backup-BitLockerKeyProtector
  • Confirm
  • KeyProtectorId
  • MountPoint
  • WhatIf
  • Disable-BitLocker
  • Confirm
  • MountPoint
  • WhatIf
  • Disable-BitLockerAutoUnlock
  • Confirm
  • MountPoint
  • WhatIf
  • Enable-BitLocker
  • AdAccountOrGroup
  • AdAccountOrGroupProtector
  • Confirm
  • EncryptionMethod
  • HardwareEncryption
  • Password
  • PasswordProtector
  • Pin
  • RecoveryKeyPath
  • RecoveryKeyProtector
  • RecoveryPassword
  • RecoveryPasswordProtector
  • Service
  • SkipHardwareTest
  • StartupKeyPath
  • StartupKeyProtector
  • TpmAndPinAndStartupKeyProtector
  • TpmAndPinProtector
  • TpmAndStartupKeyProtector
  • TpmProtector
  • UsedSpaceOnly
  • WhatIf
  • Enable-BitLockerAutoUnlock
  • Confirm
  • MountPoint
  • WhatIf
  • Get-BitLockerVolume
  • MountPoint
  • Lock-BitLocker
  • Confirm
  • ForceDismount
  • MountPoint
  • WhatIf
  • Remove-BitLockerKeyProtector
  • Confirm
  • KeyProtectorId
  • MountPoint
  • WhatIf
  • Resume-BitLocker
  • Confirm
  • MountPoint
  • WhatIf
  • Suspend-BitLocker
  • Confirm
  • MountPoint
  • RebootCount
  • WhatIf
  • Unlock-BitLocker
  • AdAccountOrGroup
  • Confirm
  • MountPoint
  • Password
  • RecoveryKeyPath
  • RecoveryPassword
  • RecoveryPassword
  • WhatIf
  • Similar to manage-bde, the Windows PowerShell cmdlets allow configuration beyond the options offered in the control panel. As with manage-bde, users need to consider the specific needs of the volume they're encrypting prior to running Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

    A good initial step is to determine the current state of the volume(s) on the computer. Determining the current state of the volume(s) can be done using the Get-BitLockerVolume cmdlet.

    The Get-BitLockerVolume cmdlet output gives information on the volume type, protectors, protection status, and other details.


    Occasionally, all protectors may not be shown when using Get-BitLockerVolume due to lack of space in the output display. If all of the protectors for a volume are not seen, use the Windows PowerShell pipe command (|) to format a full listing of the protectors:

    Get-BitLockerVolume C: | fl

    To remove the existing protectors prior to provisioning BitLocker on the volume, use the Remove-BitLockerKeyProtector cmdlet. Running this cmdlet requires the GUID associated with the protector to be removed.

    A simple script can pipe the values of each Get-BitLockerVolume return out to another variable as seen below:

    $vol = Get-BitLockerVolume$keyprotectors = $vol.KeyProtector

    By using this script, the information in the $keyprotectors variable can be displayed to determine the GUID for each protector.

    By using this information, the key protector for a specific volume can be removed using the command:

    Remove-BitLockerKeyProtector <volume>: -KeyProtectorID "{GUID}"


    The BitLocker cmdlet requires the key protector GUID enclosed in quotation marks to execute. Ensure the entire GUID, with braces, is included in the command.

    Using the BitLocker Windows PowerShell cmdlets with operating system volumes

    Using the BitLocker Windows PowerShell cmdlets is similar to working with the manage-bde tool for encrypting operating system volumes. Windows PowerShell offers users flexibility. For example, users can add the desired protector as part command for encrypting the volume. Below are examples of common user scenarios and steps to accomplish them in BitLocker Windows PowerShell.

    The following example shows how to enable BitLocker on an operating system drive using only the TPM protector:

    Enable-BitLocker C:

    In the example below, adds one additional protector, the StartupKey protector and chooses to skip the BitLocker hardware test. In this example, encryption starts immediately without the need for a reboot.

    Enable-BitLocker C: -StartupKeyProtector -StartupKeyPath <path> -SkipHardwareTest

    Using the BitLocker Windows PowerShell cmdlets with data volumes

    Data volume encryption using Windows PowerShell is the same as for operating system volumes. Add the desired protectors prior to encrypting the volume. The following example adds a password protector to the E: volume using the variable $pw as the password. The $pw variable is held as aSecureString value to store the user-defined password.

    $pw = Read-Host -AsSecureString<user inputs password>Enable-BitLockerKeyProtector E: -PasswordProtector -Password $pw

    Using an AD Account or Group protector in Windows PowerShell

    The ADAccountOrGroup protector, introduced in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, is an Active Directory SID-based protector. This protector can be added to both operating system and data volumes, although it doesn't unlock operating system volumes in the pre-boot environment. The protector requires the SID for the domain account or group to link with the protector. BitLocker can protect a cluster-aware disk by adding a SID-based protector for the Cluster Name Object (CNO) that lets the disk properly fail over to and become unlocked by any member computer of the cluster.


    The ADAccountOrGroup protector requires the use of an additional protector for use (such as TPM, PIN, or recovery key) when used on operating system volumes

    To add an ADAccountOrGroup protector to a volume, use either the actual domain SID or the group name preceded by the domain and a backslash. In the example below, the CONTOSO\Administrator account is added as a protector to the data volume G.

    Enable-BitLocker G: -AdAccountOrGroupProtector -AdAccountOrGroup CONTOSO\Administrator

    For users who wish to use the SID for the account or group, the first step is to determine the SID associated with the account. To get the specific SID for a user account in Windows PowerShell, use the following command:


    Use of this command requires the RSAT-AD-PowerShell feature.

    get-aduser -filter {samaccountname -eq "administrator"}


    In addition to the PowerShell command above, information about the locally logged on user and group membership can be found using: WHOAMI /ALL. This doesn't require the use of additional features.

    The following example adds an ADAccountOrGroup protector to the previously encrypted operating system volume using the SID of the account:

    Add-BitLockerKeyProtector C: -ADAccountOrGroupProtector -ADAccountOrGroup S-1-5-21-3651336348-8937238915-291003330-500


    Active Directory-based protectors are normally used to unlock Failover Cluster enabled volumes.

    Related articles

    • BitLocker overview
    • BitLocker frequently asked questions (FAQ)
    • Prepare your organization for BitLocker: Planning and policies
    • BitLocker: How to enable Network Unlock
    • BitLocker: How to deploy on Windows Server 2012


    How do I get my computer to stop asking for a BitLocker recovery key? ›

    Turn this off to save yourself from entering the recovery key each time Windows locks you out.
    1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard and open "Control Panel" by searching for it.
    2. Now select "Device Encryption" under "Control Panel" to open "Bitlocker" settings.
    3. Now, click on the "turn off auto-unlock" option.
    Feb 22, 2023

    Which two Windows 10 tools can be used to perform BitLocker encryption? ›

    BitLocker Drive Encryption Tools include the command-line tools manage-bde and repair-bde and the BitLocker cmdlets for Windows PowerShell.

    Why is my computer asking for BitLocker key? ›

    Windows will require a BitLocker recovery key when it detects a possible unauthorized attempt to access the data. This extra step is a security precaution intended to keep your data safe and secure.

    What is BitLocker Drive Encryption tools? ›

    BitLocker Drive Encryption is a data protection feature that integrates with the operating system and addresses the threats of data theft or exposure from lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned computers.

    How to unlock BitLocker without recovery key without losing data? ›

    Part 2. How to Unlock BitLocker Without Password and Recovery Key? If you lost not only the BitLocker password, but also the Recovery Key, there will be no way to unlock the BitLocker drive without losing all the data. You need to format the encrypted drives to remove the BitLocker.

    How do I find my BitLocker key without Microsoft account? ›

    On a printout you saved: Your recovery key may be on a printout that was saved when BitLocker was activated. Look where you keep important papers related to your computer. On a USB flash drive: Plug the USB flash drive into your locked PC and follow the instructions.

    Can I open a BitLocker encrypted drive on Windows 10 home? ›

    (Note that BitLocker isn't available on Windows 10 Home edition.) Sign in to Windows with an administrator account (you may have to sign out and back in to switch accounts). For more info, see Create a local or administrator account in Windows.

    Is BitLocker automatically enabled? ›

    BitLocker automatic device encryption starts during Out-of-box (OOBE) experience. However, protection is enabled (armed) only after users sign in with a Microsoft Account or an Azure Active Directory account.

    How to decrypt BitLocker encrypted drive in Windows 10 Home? ›

    How to remove BitLocker encryption in Windows 10
    1. Click Ask me anything.
    2. Type Windows PowerShell and click it launch.
    3. Type any of the commands below: manage-bde -off <drive letter>: Disable-BitLocker -MountPoint "<drive letter>” For example: manage-bde -off C: ...
    4. Press Enter and wait the command to finish.
    5. Restart your PC.
    Apr 10, 2017

    Can you bypass BitLocker? ›

    Can BitLocker be bypassed? The answer is “Yes”. Usually, the BitLocker drive encryption doesn't ask for the recovery key on a normal startup.

    Should I disable Windows BitLocker? ›

    While it's vital to keep BitLocker encryption enabled on your PC to keep data secure, sometimes you need to disable or suspend it temporarily. Ensure you turn it back on after you complete the computer operation to keep your data safe.

    What happens if I turn off BitLocker? ›

    Disabling BitLocker will decrypt all of your files, meaning your data won't be protected anymore. However, you can still encrypt your text files or encrypt all your online and offline data. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your files are protected.

    What causes BitLocker issues? ›

    Common settings that can cause issues for BitLocker include the following scenarios: The TPM must be unlocked. Check the output of the get-tpm PowerShell cmdlet command for the status of the TPM. Windows RE must be enabled.

    What are the disadvantages of using BitLocker? ›

    Cons of BitLocker

    First, BitLocker is only available for Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions, so if you have Windows 10 Home, you cannot use it. Second, BitLocker may slow down your system, especially if you have an older or low-end device, as it uses CPU and disk resources to encrypt and decrypt data.

    Is BitLocker good or bad? ›

    BitLocker will give you peace of mind by keeping your data safe - especially if employees lose their laptops, or if laptops are stolen - providing you with confidence that no data will be compromised. I like that BitLocker allows you to encrypt removable media as well.

    Why does my system keep asking for BitLocker recovery key on every restart? ›

    So, you can try turning it off to avoid the issue. Step 1: After Windows OS is started, go to Start -> Control Panel -> BitLocker Drive Encryption. Step 2: Click "Turn off auto-unlock" option next to the C drive. Step 3: After turning off auto-unlock option, restart your computer.

    Can you disable BitLocker recovery key? ›

    You can use the Clear-BitLockerAutoUnlock cmdlet to remove all automatic unlocking keys. Then you can disable BitLocker for the volume.

    How do I stop BitLocker recovery in BIOS? ›

    How to Disable BitLocker in BIOS Dell
    1. Restart your computer.
    2. When the manufacturer's logo appears, press “F1,” “F2,” and “F4” (or whichever BIOS hotkeys your computer uses).
    3. From the menu, open “Security.”
    4. Next, hit “BitLocker Drive Encryption.”
    5. Click “Suspend Protection.” BitLocker will now be disabled.
    Feb 22, 2022

    How do I disable BitLocker in Windows 11? ›

    1. Type and search [Manage BitLocker] in the Windows search bar①, then click [Open]②.
    2. Click [Turn off BitLocker]③ on the drive that you want to decrypt. ...
    3. Confirm whether you want to decrypt your drive, then select [Turn off BitLocker]④ to start turning off BitLocker, and your drive will not be protected anymore.
    Sep 1, 2022


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