How to Fix BitLocker Failed to Unlock with This Recovery Key

Published/Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

M3 Software author Jessica Shee

Written by

Jessica Shee


Summary: This article addresses the error message "Failed to unlock with this recovery key" in the BitLocker recovery screen in 3 effective ways. Try iBoysoft Data Recovery WinPE Boot Disk to recover data from the BitLocker-encrypted hard drive. 

BitLocker failed to unlock with this recovery key

We have a system with BitLocker Enabled. The system requested a recovery key and we entered the correct 48-digit recovery password based on the provided Recovery Key ID. However, after entering the recovery key, it says "Failed to unlock with this recovery key" may I know how to solve the issue and how we get the file on the disk if the recovery key is not working?

BitLocker can be quite sensitive to changes in hardware or system settings. So, if you've recently updated your BIOS, tweaked security configurations, or swapped out your motherboard, you might encounter the BitLocker recovery screen on Surface Pro or Windows PC, prompting you to enter the recovery key for authentication.

If BitLocker displays the "Failed to unlock with this recovery key" message, you'll find yourself unable to boot into the Windows operating system or access your data. This article outlines 3 methods to assist you in resolving this issue.

Table of Contents:

Why did BitLocker fail to unlock with this recovery key?

Have you made any changes to the security settings or hardware of the system that could render the BitLocker encryption algorithm incapable of recognizing or unlocking the encrypted hard drive? If not, difficulties in using the recovery key to unlock the BitLocker-enabled system hard drive primarily point to the accuracy of the recovery key and the condition of the hard drive itself.

Incorrect BitLocker recovery key. Having multiple partitions on the hard drive with BitLocker encryption enabled can result in having multiple recovery keys. It's common to mistakenly associate a recovery key with a specific partition. Even if you are confident that the entered BitLocker recovery key is accurate, you should follow the below instructions to double-check and confirm the recovery key.

Corrupted hard drive. Physical or logical errors, such as corrupted BitLocker metadata and a damaged file system, are affecting your Windows hard drive. As a result, the drive is unable to accept the correct BitLocker recovery key for unlocking.

Fix BitLocker failed to unlock with this recovery key - 3 methods

Discover the 3 methods below to remove the "Failed to unlock with this recovery key" message and successfully unlock your BitLocker-encrypted drive. Keep in mind that these methods may seem complex, as they involve multiple steps and may not be ideal for individuals with less technical background.

Method 1. Verify the correct BitLocker recovery key

It is imperative to make sure the BitLocker recovery key you entered is correct.  Check these places to find the BitLocker recovery key associated with your system partition. Ensure the BitLocker recovery key matches the key ID.

  1. Microsoft Account. If you're using a Microsoft account on your Windows device, your BitLocker recovery key may be automatically backed up to your Microsoft account. You can check this by signing in to your Microsoft account online and navigating to /devices/recoverykey interface.
  2. The BitLocker recovery key file. During the BitLocker setup process, you have the option to save the recovery key to a file. Try to recall where you stored the file, whether it's on an external USB drive or in a cloud storage service.
  3. Printed copy of the recovery key. You can choose to print the BitLocker recovery key during the BitLocker setup. Try to find the printed copy in your office or house. 
  4. Active Directory. If your computer is part of a domain, the system administrator may have configured Group Policy settings to back up BitLocker recovery keys to Active Directory. If you are an administrator, use the BitLocker Recovery Password Viewer to view the BitLocker recovery keys.
  5. Manufacturer's support. Some Windows models ship with BitLocker enabled but suspended by the manufacturers, so users don't have the original BitLocker recovery key. Contact the manufacturer of your computer for further assistance. 
  6. manage-bde command. On the BitLocker recovery screen, press the Esc key > Skip this drive >Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt. Run "manage-bde -protectors C: -get" in the Command Prompt and the Numerical Password displayed is your BitLocker recovery key.

Get BitLocker recovery key through CMD

Method 2. Use a BitLocker recovery bootable disk

If you're seeing signs of a failing hard drive—like slow performance, frequent crashes, or the dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD)—act quickly. Use a BitLocker recovery boot disk to rescue your data before it becomes more corrupted or even unrecoverable.

Consider iBoysoft Data Recovery, a versatile solution for Windows users dealing with various data loss scenarios. It offers a special edition called iBoysoft Data Recovery WinPE Boot Disk, allowing you to create a bootable USB drive. With this, you can recover data from a BitLocker-encrypted hard drive without booting into the Windows operating system. Importantly, this BitLocker recovery software can efficiently scan corrupted BitLocker disks for data recovery. 

Step 1. Download iBoysoft Data Recovery WinPE Boot Disk to create a BitLocker recovery boot disk.

iBoysoft BitLocker recovery bootable files

Step 2. Enable your computer to boot from an external USB drive by changing the boot order.

how to allow your Windows to boot from external USB drive

Step 3. Launch iBoysoft Data Recovery and select BitLock Recovery from the homepage.

iBoysoft Data Recovery homepage

Step 4. Select the BitLocker-encrypted hard drive and click Next.

Step 5. Enter the BitLocker password or recovery key to unlock it.

enter BitLocker password or recovery key

Step 6. Select files to preview and check the boxes next to wanted files to recover.

BitLocker data recovery

Method 3. Reset Windows

If BitLocker fails to unlock with the correct recovery key using iBoysoft's BitLocker recovery feature, there's a significant possibility that your computer has encountered a critical error.

In such cases, a complete removal of BitLocker encryption and a reinstall of Windows may be necessary to restore functionality. This means performing a factory reset on your Windows and wiping all system settings and personal files. Ensure you have a recent backup of your essential data before proceeding with the factory reset.

To reset Windows:

Step 1. Boot your computer to the Windows Recovery Environment. Check your manufacturer's official website as the process varies on different PC models. 

Step 2. Go to Troubleshoot > Reset this PC > Remove everything.

reset this PC

Step 3. Follow the onscreen steps to finish formatting the system hard drive and reinstall Windows.


It is a frustrating situation if BitLocker doesn't unlock with the entered recovery key in the BitLocker recovery screen. You can start to fix the issue by double-checking your BitLocker recovery key using the methods provided in this article. Alternatively, you can use iBoysoft Data Recovery WinPE Boot Disk for BitLocker data recovery. Afterward, you have the option to reset your Windows to remove the troublesome BitLocker encryption.



You cannot bypass the BitLocker recovery screen if you don't have the correct recovery key.


On the BitLocker recovery screen, the key ID for the encrypted drive is visible. Locate the BitLocker recovery key associated with the same drive and compare its Key ID to the one displayed on the BitLocker recovery screen. Once you've verified the match, enter the BitLocker recovery key, and it should be the correct one for the encrypted drive.


No, you can't back up your Windows if you cannot authenticate with the correct recovery key. BitLocker is a security feature designed to protect your data, and without the correct recovery key, your access to the system and Windows backup features are restricted.