When Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 are unbootable or run into problems, many users prefer to refresh or reset their PC for repair because this may restore their computer to a working state while keeping personal files intact.
One of the most common issues stopping customers from gaining full access to their PC is the drive where Windows is installed is locked. This has increased the number of people wanting to know how to unlock a drive in Windows 10.
In most circumstances, you can successfully refresh, but you may occasionally obtain the following error message: “The drive on which Windows is installed is password-protected. Restart by unlocking the drive.”
If you are still experiencing the same problem, this post will show you how to effectively remove any lock on your drive.
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What is a Windows 10 Operating System
Microsoft’s Windows 10 is a widely used operating system. It was launched in July 2015 as the successor to Windows 8.1. Since its release, Windows 10 has received various upgrades and improvements, including the addition of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and new features such as virtual desktops and the Cortana personal assistant.
Windows 10 is intended to work with a broad variety of devices, including desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones. It has a modern user interface that includes features like the Start menu, Action Center, and the Microsoft Edge browser. In addition, Windows 10 contains built-in security capabilities such as Windows Defender Antivirus and the ability to use BitLocker encryption for data protection.
Overall, Windows 10 is a robust and adaptable operating system that offers users a wide choice of productivity, entertainment, and security tools and capabilities.
What is a Drive in Windows 10?
A drive is a storage device in Windows 10, such as a hard disc drive, solid-state drive, USB flash drive, or CD/DVD-ROM drive. When you launch File Explorer, you will see a list of discs on your computer, each labeled with a letter, such as C: or D:
Windows 10 drives can be used to store files and directories, install software, and conduct system backups. The contents of a drive can be accessed by clicking on its icon in File Explorer or by putting the drive letter followed by a colon (e.g., “C:”) in the address bar.
You may also manage discs in Windows 10, including formatting, partitioning, and assigning drive letters. This can be accomplished by launching the Disk Management program by right-clicking on the Start button and selecting “Disk Management” from the menu.
Why is the drive locked?
Some of the reasons your drive may be locked in Windows 10 are as follows:
A faulty disc sector is one of the most common causes of the locked hard drive problem. Repairing the faulty sections is the solution.
Defective system files: Because of the impact of faulty system files, you may need to unlock your Windows 10 drive at times. Fixing and restoring these corrupt files should resolve the issue.
Broken or corrupt boot files: Another documented cause of this issue is a broken or corrupt boot file. To resolve this, you must execute a few commands on the Advanced starting page.
How to Unlock the Drive in Windows 10?
Before moving to the more complicated fixes in this area, try the following basic troubleshooting steps:
- Check to see that your drive is properly attached.
- Unplug all other drives.
- Ascertain that the hard drive is set as the boot source.
Solution 1: Use MiniTool Partition Wizard to rebuild the MBR
MBR (master boot record) is a sort of boot sector found at the beginning of partitioned computer mass storage devices. It contains a little bit of executable code called the master boot code, the disc signature, and the partition table for the disc.
And the master boot code searches the partition table for the active partition, locates the active partition’s starting sector, loads a copy of the active partition’s boot sector into memory, and transfers control to the executable code in the boot sector.
When the master boot code is destroyed or corrupted, you are extremely likely to encounter the error message “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” when booting or refreshing the computer. So you can try rebuilding the MBR to see if that fixes the Windows-locked hard disc problem.
You may be wondering how to efficiently rewrite MBR to unlock drive Windows 10/8/8.1.
- Step 1: Run MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro on another computer, then select Bootable Media from the toolbar.
- Step 2: Choose WinPE-based media that includes the MiniTool plug-in.
- Make a bootable USB device or CD/DVD drive.
- Step 4: Boot from the MiniTool bootable hard drive connected to your Computer with the locked hard drive.
- Step 5: MiniTool Partition Wizard will then launch to its main interface on its own.
- Step 6: Choose the system disc that has MBR damage and selects Rebuild MBR from the left panel or right-click a menu.
- Step 7: Click the Apply button to save all of your changes and resolve the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error.
Note: Please backup all vital data on the target drive before time, as all of its contents, will be destroyed.
Solution 2: Use the Windows Installation CD to repair your computer
The Repair your computer option on the Windows Installation DVD may be able to resolve issues that are stopping Windows from booting. Your Windows may be bootable after repair, and there is no need to restart the machine.
Even if Windows is still unbootable, the problem “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” may be resolved, and you will be able to restart your computer.
- Step 1: Create an installation or repair disc, either through USB or CD/DVD.
- Step 2: Insert the installation CD into your computer and boot from it to obtain the following window (using the Windows 10 installation DVD as an example):
- Step 3: Choose a language, time, currency, keyboard, or input method, and then click Next to proceed.
- Step 4: Choose to Repair your computer instead of Install now.
- Step 5: Choose Troubleshoot Advanced Options Startup Repair to resolve issues that prevent Windows from booting and unlocking the hard disc.
After the repair is finished, you should be able to restart Windows or restart your computer. But what if this does not resolve the hard disc locked error? So, let’s look at how to unlock a hard disc in Windows 10/8/8.1. Try the third option.
Tip: Use the installation CD for the same edition of Windows you’re attempting to fix.
Solution 3: Use the Bootrec.exe tool to repair boot-related files
Bootrec.exe is a Windows snap-in program that can repair Master Boot Record, Boot Sector, and Boot Configuration Data to troubleshoot starting issues.
We received a lot of feedback on the internet from individuals who reported this way helped them fix the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error, therefore we hope this can also help you unlock the drive Windows 10/8/8.1.
The steps are as follows:
- Step 1: Insert and boot from the Windows bootable drive.
- Step 2: Choose your preferred language and click Next.
- Step 3: After you’ve chosen a language, press Shift + F10 to launch Command Prompt.
- Step 4: In the command prompt, type bootrec.exe and hit the Enter key to launch the utility.
- Step 5: Type the following commands, with each command ending with the Enter key:
Tip: If you are running Windows in UEFI/GPT boot mode, you do not need to perform the first command because it is needed to repair MBR, which is only visible on MBR discs.
After the repair is complete, you can exit Command Prompt and restart Windows or restart your computer.
When the first three are proven to be ineffective, the Windows drive is locked. How do you unlock Windows 10/8/8.1? In addition, we discover three additional solutions. Simply attempt them to solve the hard drive locked problem.
Solution 4: Use CHKDSK.exe to repair disc errors
CHKDSK is a built-in Windows utility that reports disk/volume state when run without arguments and repairs problems caused by or related to faulty sectors, system failures, cross-linked files, directory errors, and lost file clusters when run with parameters such as /f and /r. It inspects discs and can repair many common faults on FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS devices.
Thus you can try to fix the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error by following the steps below.
- Step 1: Insert and boot from the Windows bootable drive.
- Step 2: Choose Repair > Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.
- Step 3: Type and click Enter the following command.
Chkdsk C: /R or chkdsk C: /F
- Step 4: To quit the command prompt, type exit and hit Enter. Following that, you should be able to restart your computer or launch Windows.
If this method does not work, how can you unlock a hard drive in Windows 10/8/8.1? Try the next option.
C is the drive letter on which Windows is installed. Replace C with D if your Windows is installed on the D: drive. Furthermore, when the parameter /R is specified, chkdsk.exe will take significantly longer to rectify errors than when the parameter /F is specified because the former will locate faulty sectors and recover readable information in addition to mending mistakes.
Solution 5: Restore missing or corrupted system files with System File Checker.
System File Checker (SFC) is a Windows program that allows users to scan for and correct corruptions in Windows system files. Yet, how should this tool be used to repair missing or corrupted system files to unlock a hard drive?
- Step 1: Launch the Command Prompt.
- Step 2: To perform the procedure, type sfc /scannow and then press the Enter key.
After that, you can reboot Windows or restart your computer to see whether the hard drive locked problem persists.
If you continue to receive the locked hard drive problem after using the first five methods, you can try the last option to unlock the hard drive Windows 10/8/8.1.
Some users say that restoring Windows solved the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error, and the instructions are shown below.
- Step 1: Start the computer by inserting the installation DVD.
- Step 2: Choose your preferred language and click Next.
- Step 3: Choose Repair > Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Restore.
- Step 4:You will then see the System Restore interface, as seen below. To proceed, click the Next button.
- Step 5: You will then be provided with complete operating instructions. Simply follow the instructions to restore the operating system and unlock the drive Windows 10/8/8.1.
How do you unlock the drive where Windows is installed?
- Step 1: Use the MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD to rebuild the MBR.
- Step 2: Use the Windows Installation CD to repair your computer.
- Step 3: Use the Bootrec.exe tool to repair boot-related files.
- Step 4: Use CHKDSK.exe to repair disc errors.
- Step 5: Restore missing or corrupted system files with System File Checker.
- Step 6: Reinstall Windows.
On Windows 10, how can I open a locked drive?
Click the Start button in Windows and type cmd into the Search field, then press the Enter key.
- Type bootrec /RebuildBcd and press Enter key.
- Type bootrec /fixMbr and press Enter key.
- Type bootrec /fixboot and press Enter key.
How do I format a locked hard drive?
- Step 1: Go to Disk Management.
- Step 2: Choose Format from the context menu when you right-click on the device or partition.
- Step 3: Choose a file system and a cluster size.
- Step 4: To format the BitLocker encrypted drive, click OK.
After that, your Windows should resume normal operation. Keep in mind that this is a sophisticated approach, so proceed with caution.
You use this tool at your own risk, and we are not liable for any potential harm or file loss.
This brings us to the end of our guide on how to unlock your drive in Windows 10. If you follow the directions to the letter, everything should be back to normal.