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Format BitLocker Drive with or Without Password/Recovery Key

Updated on Tuesday, May 7, 2024

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

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Amanda Wong
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How to Format BitLocker Drive Using Password/Recovery Key or Not

Summary: Read this post to know how to format BitLocker encrypted drive. You can format BitLocker drive with or without a password and recovery key. Plus how to recover data from BitLocker drive before formatting it.

format bitlocker drive

BitLocker is a full-disk encryption method applied on the Windows platform. You can enable BitLocker drive encryption on both internal and external hard drives/USB/SD cards. The BitLocker drive encryption recovery key automatically generated during the setup process is combined with a password to protect drive data from unauthenticated access.

And for some reason, you may want to format a BitLocker encrypted drive/USB/SD card:

  • Erase all contents on the BitLocker storage media.
  • Need to make the BitLocker drive compatible with macOS. (iBoysoft BitLocker for Mac enables you to access BitLocker drive on Mac without formatting.)
  • The encrypted drive behaves abnormally on your computer.
  • Forget the BitLocker password and recovery key, and the drive is unusable.

Whatever your case is, you are covered in this post. Keep reading to know how to format a BitLocker drive with or without a password/recovery key.

Guide on how to format a BitLocker driveSpecific methodsData loss or not
Scenario 1: Password/recovery key available, back up data before formattingStep 1. Unlock the BitLocker drive with your password
Step 2. Back up the BitLocker drive from Update and Security
Step 3. Recover deleted/lost data from BitLocker drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery
Scenario 2: Directly format the BitLocker drive on Windows/macOSMethod 1. Format BitLocker drive with File Explorer 
Method 2. Format BitLocker drive with Disk Management 
Method 3. Format drive with Command Prompt 
Method 4. Format BitLocker drive with macOS Disk Utility

Back up and recover BitLocker drive data first

If you have the BitLocker password or recovery key, you can avoid data loss when you need to format the BitLocker drive. You can unlock the BitLocker drive, back up the BitLocker drive, then recover lost/deleted data from the BitLocker drive. With all these done, you can format a BitLocker drive without losing data.

Unlock the BitLocker drive

  1. Go to Windows File Explorer and locate the BitLocker encrypted drive.
  2. Double-click the BitLocker drive with a golden lock icon and enter your password in the pop-up window.
  3. Click the "Unlock" button to unlock the drive.

unlock bitlocker drive

Back up the BitLocker drive

  1. Open the Start menu, choose Update and Security > Backup > Backup Using File History.
  2. Select a backup destination for your BitLocker drive.
  3. Click More Options to proceed with more settings.
  4. After selecting the backup destination, turn on the Automatically backup my files, and Windows begin to back up files to the selected destination.

back up bitlocker drive

Recover data from the BitLocker drive

Compared with common data recovery, BitLocker data recovery requires more advanced and complex technologies. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows is good at recovering deleted/lost from BitLocker drives. Here is how:

  1. Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows on your computer.
  2. Connect your BitLocker drive and launch the software.
  3. Select the BitLocker Recovery module on the main interface.main interface
  4. Choose your BitLocker dive from the list.
  5. Click the Next button, and enter the BitLocker password or recovery key to begin searching for deleted/lost data on your drive. 
    unlock bitlocker drive
  6. Preview the scanned result to see whether it is accessible.
  7. Select the files you want to recover and click Recover to save them to a different location.

How to format BitLocker encrypted drive on Windows/macOS

After all the above preparations are done, you can read this section to know how to format BitLocker drive. 

Besides, if you forget both the password and recovery key for the BitLocker drive, try to recall your password and find BitLocker recovery key, if both fail, you can also format a BitLocker drive without a password/recovery key, and this is the only way to make the storage media usable again. Once again, formatting removes the BitLocker encryption and also clears all the data on it. You can't recover data from a formatted BitLocker drive!

Format BitLocker drive with File Explorer

  1. Connect the BitLocker drive to your PC if it's an external storage device.
  2. Open Windows File Explorer, right-click the BitLocker drive, then select Format from the drop-down menu.
  3. Tick the box of Quick Format on the format window, set the file system, and click Start.

format bitlocker using file exploere

Format BitLocker drive with Disk Management

  1. Click the Start menu, type Control Panel in the search box, and open Control Panel.
  2. Select Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management.
  3. Right-click on the BitLocker drive or partition and click Format.
  4. Assign a file system and set the cluster size for the drive.
  5. Click OK to format the BitLocker encrypted disk, USB flash drive, or SD card.

fromat bitlocker drive with disk management

Format BitLocker drive with Command Prompt

  1. Click the Start icon, type cmd in the search box, right-click Command Prompt, and choose Run as administrator.
  2. On the pop-up window, type diskpart and hit Enter.
  3. Type the following commands and press Enter each time to format BitLocker drive, replace "*" with the letter of your BitLocker drive/partition.list diskselect disk *list volumeselect volume *format fs=ntfs quick
  4. When it tells you the format has been completed, type exit and hit Enter to close DiskPart.

format bitlocker drive with diskpart

Format BitLocker drive on macOS

  1. Connect the external BitLocker drive to your Mac.
  2. Open the Disk Utility from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
  3. Click the View button and choose Show All Devices. 
  4. Select the BitLocker drive from the left sidebar, and click the Erase button on the toolbar.
  5. Name the drive and choose a file format for it, and click Erase again.
  6. Wait for it to complete, and click Done.

What happens when formatting a BitLocker drive

Whenever you format a drive on macOS or Windows, it deletes all your contents on the SSD/HDD/USB/SD card, including the videos, documents, archives, movies, etc., and you will get brand-new and empty storage media to save new files. This also comes to a BitLocker encrypted drive. When you format the BitLocker drive, all the data on the encrypted disk will be removed permanently. 

It is possible to recover the formatted drive with professional data recovery software such as iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows, but it is impossible to recover data after formatting a BitLocker drive. Windows 10/8/7 deletes the BitLocker metadata when formatting a BitLocker drive, making it impossible to recover data from a formatted drive using any data recovery software.

The end

If these methods provided by iBoysoft help you to format BitLocker drive with or without a password/recovery key, you can share it with more people! Don't forget to recover data from BitLocker drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows if the password/recovery key is available to unlock it.