Security | Vulnerability Scans and Assessment Windows

How and where to find your BitLocker recovery key in Windows

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BitLocker Recovery Key

A BitLocker Recovery Key is required to access a data disk encrypted with the Windows built-in encryption tool BitLocker. You can use the 48-digit password to access your disk drive. It is always a good idea to back up your BitLocker Recovery Key in case you lose it. This post will go through how to retrieve your BitLocker Recovery Key on a Windows 11/10 PC.

BitLocker is a built-in encryption utility that allows Windows users to encrypt and safeguard their data disks, enabling only authorized users to access them. As a result, anyone who is not permitted to access a BitLocker-encrypted drive may have difficulties while attempting to log in. If your BitLocker encrypted device is synchronized with your Microsoft account, you can use that Microsoft account on any other device to retrieve the lost BitLocker recovery key.

Other related guides on BitLocker: How to delegate control for Bitlocker recovery keys in Active Directory, How to unlock a fixed drive protected by BitLocker, Microsoft Bitlocker Administration and Management: Effect of renaming an MBAM or BitLocker protected ComputerHow to disable Lock Screen on Windows 10 via Local Group Policy Editor, and Understanding Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring Roles.

Now, let’s look at how and where to find a BitLocker recovery key for a system.

Where can I find my BitLocker recovery key?

Before enabling protection, BitLocker most likely verified that a recovery key was safely backed up. Depending on the option selected while activating BitLocker, your recovery key might be in one of the following locations:

  • Microsoft account
  • On a printout
  • USB flash drive
  • Azure Active Directory account

How to check for BitLocker Recovery Key in Microsoft account 

To check if your BitLocker Recovery key is backed up in your Microsoft account, open a web browser on another device and Sign in to your Microsoft account to find your recovery key. This is the most likely place to find your recovery key.

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Microsoft Sign in page

Once you can sign in using that link, you will be taken directly to the path where your BitLocker Recovery key is stored.

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BitLocker Recovery keys saved in Microsoft account

If you have backed up your recovery key to your Microsoft account, you can sign in from any device with internet connectivity, such as a smartphone. Also, if the device was configured or BitLocker was enabled by someone else, the recovery key may be in that person’s Microsoft account.

Printout

If you have personally configured or setup your BitLocker encryption using the “Print the recovery key” backup option, then you must have printed your recovery key when BitLocker was activated.

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BitLocker recovery key printed out.

Look at where you keep important papers related to your computer.

USB flash drive

During the setup of the BitLocker encryption, if you selected the option to “Save to a file”, you would have been required to save to an external source such as a File Server path or a USB flash drive.

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BitLocker recovery key saved to a file

If you saved the key as a text file on the flash drive, use a different computer to read the text file.

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BitLocker recovery key saved to a file

If the USB flash drive is the recovery key itself, plug the USB flash drive into your locked PC and follow the instructions.

How to check for BitLocker Recovery Key in Azure Active Directory account 

If your device was ever signed into an organization using a work or school email account, your recovery key may be stored in that organization’s Azure AD account.

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BitLocker recovery key saved to Azure AD account

If you personally setup the BitLocker encryption, visit the Azure AD account and click on “Get BitLocker keys”.

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Azure AD account

You will see a popup on the screen with your BitLocker recovery keys.

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If the system was setup by your organization, you may need to contact a system administrator to access your recovery key.

Conclusion 

If you can’t find the BitLocker recovery key and can’t undo any settings changes that may have made it necessary, you’ll need to reset your device. All your files will be deleted if you reset your PC. A lost BitLocker recovery key cannot be provided or recreated by Microsoft support.

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