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What is BitLocker recovery key? Is it important?

When I enable BitLocker on my computer's internal drive, there is a BitLocker recovery key generated and it asks me to back up it. I am wondering what the recovery key is and whether it is important.

Best Answered by

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

Amanda Wong

Answered on Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The BitLocker recovery key is a unique 48-digit numerical password. It can be used to unlock the BitLocker-encrypted drive. After then, you can read and write to the BitLocker-encrypted drive usually. And the BitLocker recovery key is very important, if you lose it, you may lose all your data on the BitLocker drive.

BitLocker is a full-disk encryption feature for Windows, your system may be safeguarded against unauthorized access and your data can be kept safe and secure by using encryption. When enabling BitLocker, it automatically generates a BitLocker drive encryption recovery key and you should keep the recovery key safe. 

Usually, you boot the computer and unlock the BitLocker-encrypted drive with your USB key and PIN, then you can access the data stored on the drive. Sometimes, it prompts a BitLocker recovery screen and asks for the BitLocker recovery key, it could be triggered by:

  • Authentication errors. Forgetting the PIN and entering the wrong PIN too many times…
  • Boot/BIOS changes. Turning off BIOS support for USB devices, changing the boot order, BIOS upgrades, MBR changes…
  • Hardware changes. Inserting or removing CD/DVD, adding or removing hardware…
  • Software changes. Changing the NTFS partition table on the disk…
  • Firmware update. TPM firmware update, ROM firmware update…

Whenever the BitLocker recovery screen shows up, the BitLocker recovery key is the only way to unlock the drive. With the correct BitLocker recovery key, the system can continue to boot and load the OS. If you lose the recovery key, all your data becomes inaccessible. 

Even if you want to recover lost or deleted files from a BitLocker-encrypted drive with third-party BitLocker data recovery software, it will need to recovery key to be able to scan the data on the encrypted drive.

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