The error: the drive where Windows is installed is locked

“I upgraded to Windows 8.1 yesterday and I have been having trouble so I am trying to do a Refresh. It says ‘the drive where Windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again.’ What is wrong? What do I do?”

Locked Windows Drive

One user shared his bothering experience in the forum. When you are trying to repair or recover a Windows installation from the Windows Recovery Environment, you may encounter this error: Windows drive is locked. Then, what can you do to fix the error?

How to unlock Windows drive in Windows 10/8 easily?

The error that Windows drive is locked can be caused by disabled Bitlocker boot agent, the cleaned TPM or damaged BCD files. I’ll show you how to fix the drive where Windows is installed is locked in Windows 10/8 as follows. There are three quick fixes for your reference:

Fix #1: Running the CHKDSK utility to check disk errors

1. Restart your computer with the Windows installation media and go to “Next”.

2. In the Windows Setup screen, click Repair your computer.

3. At the Choose an option screen, go Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt successively.

4. Type chkdsk c: /f /r /x and press Enter. (C: is the drive where your Windows is installed)

5. Reboot the computer and check if the error is fixed.

Tips: The meaning of the parameters used: “/f” tells chkdsk to fix any errors it finds; “/r” tells it to locate the bad sectors on the drive and recover readable information; “/x” forces the drive to dismount before the process starts.

Fix #2: Using the bootrec command to rebuild BCD files

1. Open Command Prompt as you did in Fix #1.

2. Input following command lines and press Enter after each.

  • bootrec /fixmbr

  • bootrec /fixboot

  • bootrec /scanos

  • bootrec /rebuildbcd

3. Remove the Windows installation media from the disc tray or USB port.

4. Type exit and press Enter to exit Command Prompt. Restart your computer later.

Fix #3: Refreshing the PC

1. Go to Repair your computer as mentioned in Fix #1.

2. At the Choose an option screen, go Troubleshoot > Refresh your PC.

3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

Tips for unlocking Windows drive

As you see, you will need Windows installation media to solve the problem that the drive where Windows is installed is locked in Windows 10/8. What if you don’t have the installation media? Actually, you can create a Windows recovery drive by yourself.

AOMEI Backupper Standard, the best free backup software, can help you complete the task. It allows you to not only backup and restore the system, disk, partition, or files, but also create bootable media. You are able to create two kinds of bootable disc: Linux boot disc and Windows PE boot disc. The former can be created straightway, while the latter requires you to install Windows AIK kit in your operating system in advance.

With AOMEI Backupper, all you need to do to create bootable media are a few clicks. Both CDs and USB flash drives can be used as bootable media. Here take USB as an example:

Step 1. Download AOMEI Backupper and follow the wizard to finish installation. It will be installed in a short time.


Step 2. Connect a USB drive to your computer. Launch AOMEI Backupper, click “Utilities” on the left pane and select “Create Bootable Media”.

Create Bootable Media

Step 3. In the pop-up window, choose bootable disc type and click “Next”. It is recommended to choose Windows PE so that you can access full functions of AOMEI Backupper.

Bootable Disc Type

Step 4. In the next window, select boot mode, tick “Download WinPE creating environment from the internet” and click “Next”.

Select Boot Mode

Tips: If your system is UEFI boot mode (i.e. your system is installed on a GPT disk), you can select “Create UEFI bootable disc”; if your system is Legacy BIOS boot mode (i.e. your system is installed on an MBR disk), you should select “Create legacy bootable disc”.

Step 5. Select “USB Boot Device” and click “Next”. You will receive a prompt to format your USB drive. Click “Yes” to start creating bootable media.

Select Bootable Media

Note: After you boot your computer from the bootable USB drive created by AOMEI Backupper, you will see loaded AOMEI Backupper once login. Go Utilities > Windows shell command to open Command Prompt and run the command lines mentioned above to unlock Windows drive.

Windows Shell Command


You have learned three efficient ways to fix the error that the drive where Windows is installed is locked in Windows 10/8. You can use AOMEI Backupper to create bootable media for booting the computer if you don’t have the Windows installation media.

Other than creating bootable media, you can run Dell factory restore in Windows 7 Command Prompt and clone hard drive via Command Prompt with AOMEI Backupper. Please upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional to take advantage of AOMEI command lines.