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Summary :

the drive where Windows is installed is locked

"The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error always happens in Windows 10/8/8.1 when you reset or refresh your PC to restore the PC to a normal state. Here, this post shows you 6 effective solutions and read it to know how to unlock a hard drive effectively.

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Error - The Drive Where Windows Is Installed Is Locked

When Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 is unbootable or runs in errors, many users choose to refresh or reset their PC for fixing since this may restore their computer to the state when it works well, with keeping personal files intact.

In most cases, you can do refresh successfully, but sometimes you may receive the following error message: "The drive where Windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again."

the drive where Windows is installed is locked

Are you troubled by such an issue? Why is the hard drive locked?

Possible Causes for "Hard Drive Locked" Error

It is difficult to say what is the exact culprit for this error, so here we just list 4 possible causes:

  1. mbr(master boot record) is damaged.
  2. Windows system files are corrupted or damaged.
  3. BCD (boot configuration data) is damaged. (Note: here, I guess you might be interested in this post: 4 Ways to Fix Boot Configuration Data File Is Missing.)
  4. There are errors on the disk.

After knowing causes, you may ask: Windows drive is locked how to unlock Windows 10/8/8.1. Next, let's see how to unlock a hard drive to fix this error.

6 Solutions - The Drive Where Windows Is Installed Is Locked

Method One: Rebuild MBR with MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD

MBR (master boot record) is a special type of boot sector at the very beginning of partitioned computer mass storage devices. It contains a small amount of executable code called the master boot code, the disk signature, and the partition table for the disk.

And the master boot code scans the partition table for the active partition, finds the starting sector of the active partition, loads a copy of the boot sector from the active partition into memory, and transfers control to the executable code in the boot sector.

Once the master boot code is damaged or corrupted, you are very likely to receive "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error message when booting or refreshing computer. So you can try rebuilding MBR to see whether this can fix the Windows locked hard drive error.

Now, you might be wondering: How to rebuild MBR effectively to unlock drive Windows 10/8/8.1?

Here, MiniTool Partition Wizard, a professional partition magic developed by a famous software development company based in Canada, is recommended here. Since Windows cannot boot because of hard drive locked error, you can click the Bootable Media feature to get MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Edition.

Tip: The free edition of MiniTool Partition Wizard doesn’t provide Bootable Media Builder since this feature is only included in paid editions. Here, you can get MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro Edition from the button below to rebuild MBR to unlock hard drive.

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Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro in another normal computer, and then click Bootable Media in the toolbar.

Step 2: Click WinPE-based media with MiniTool plug-in.

create WinPE-based bootable media with MiniTool Partition Wizard

Step 3: Create a bootable USB drive or CD/DVD drive.
Step 4: Connect the MiniTool bootable hard drive to your PC with locked hard drive, and boot from it.
Step 5: Then, MiniTool Partition Wizard will launch by itself to its main interface.

Step 6: Now, select the system disk which is facing MBR damage and click Rebuild MBR from the left panel or right-click menu.

rebuild damaged MBR to fix hard drive locked error

Step 7: Click the Apply button to perform all changes to fix "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error.

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In the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard, experienced users will choose to back up data saved on the locked hard drive to keep data 100% safe because any accident during repair could result in data loss. Here, you can also do this with the following steps.

Step 1: Select the current system disk and choose the Copy Disk feature from the left action panel.

copy disk to back up data

Step 2: Select the disk that is used to hold the copy of the system disk and click Next.

Note: Please backup all important data on target disk in advance, because all its data will be deleted.

choose target disk for the cloned data

Step 3: Select a copying option to decide the layout of the target disk, or manually change partition size and location by changing the length and location of the partition handle.

choose one copy option

  • If you are an SSD or advanced format HD user, you can check the option Align partitions to 1MB to improve disk performance.
  • If the target disk is larger than 2TB, you can check the Use GUID Partition Table for the target disk, because it supports disks larger than 2TB while MBR supports the maximum disk size of 2TB.

Step 4: Read the popup note carefully, and then click the Finish button to continue.
Step 5: Click the Apply button in the top left corner to apply all pending operations.

execute all changes by clicking apply button

After rebuilding MBR, if your Windows hard drive is still locked, how to unlock Windows 10/8/8.1? Try method 2.

Method Two: Repair Your Computer with Windows Installation Disc

The Repair your computer feature in Windows Installation Disc could fix problems that are preventing Windows from running. After repair, your Windows might be bootable, and there is no need to refresh the computer. Even if Windows is still unbootable, the error "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" could be fixed, and then you can refresh your computer.

Step 1: You have to prepare an installation disc or repair disk, either USB or CD/DVD.

Tip: You'd better use the installation disc which is for the same edition of Windows you are trying to repair.

Step 2: Connect the installation disc to your computer and boot from it to get the window below (here we take Windows 10 installation disc for example):

Step 3: Choose a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard, or an input method, and then click Next to continue.

Windows 10 setup interface

Step 4: Choose Repair your computer rather than Install now.

Windows 10 repair your computer

Step 5: Click on TroubleshootAdvanced optionsStartup Repair to fix problems that keep Windows from loading to unlock hard drive.

startup repair in WinRE

Sometimes, some Windows 10 users will find their Automatic Repair doesn't work. If you have the same problem, don't worry and you can find answers from this post: How Do I Solve - Windows Automatic Repair Not Working.

After the fix is completed, you should be able to start Windows or refresh your computer. But what if this also failed to fix the hard drive locked error? Now, how to unlock a hard drive in Windows 10/8/8.1? Try the third way.

Method Three: Fix Boot-related Files with Bootrec.exe Tool

Bootrec.exe is a Windows snap-in tool to troubleshoot startup issues, and it can repair Master Boot Record, Boot Sector, and Boot Configuration Data.

On the internet we found lots of people give feedback and said this method helped them fix the "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error, so we hope this can also help you unlock drive Windows 10/8/8.1.

Here are the steps.
Step 1: Insert the Windows bootable drive and boot from it.
Step 2: Select your language preferences, and click Next.
Step 3: After selecting language, press Shift + F10 to open Command Prompt.
Step 4: Type bootrec.exe in command prompt and press Enter key to launch the tool.
Step 5: Type the following commands, and each command should end with pressing on Enter key:
bootrec /FixMbr
bootrec /FixBoot
bootrec /RebuildBcd

 fix boot-related files with bootrec.exe tool

Tip: If you are running Windows from UEFI/GPT boot mode, there is no need to type the first command, because it is used to fix MBR which is only seen in MBR disk.

After the repair is completed, you can quit from Command Prompt and try starting Windows or refreshing computer.

When the former 3 are finally proved to be useless, Windows drive is locked how to unlock Windows 10/8/8.1? In addition, we also find other 3 solutions. Just try them to solve the hard drive locked issue.

Method Four: Fix Disk Errors with CHKDSK.exe

CHKDSK is a Windows built-in utility to report disk/volume state if we run it without giving any parameters, and repair problems caused by, or related to, bad sectors, system errors, cross-linked files, directory errors and lost file clusters if we use it by specifying parameters, like /f, and /r. It examines disks and can correct many types of common errors on FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS drives.

So you can follow the instructions below to try fixing the "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error.

Step 1: Insert the Windows bootable drive and boot from it.

Step 2: Click Repair your computer > Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.

choose Command Prompt in WinRE

Step 3: Type the following command and press Enter.
Chkdsk C: /R or chkdsk C: /F

chkdsk fix unlocked hard drive

Tip: C is the letter of the drive where Windows is installed. If your Windows is installed on D: drive, replace C with D. In addition, with specifying the parameter /R, chkdsk.exe will cost much more time to fix errors compared with giving the /F parameter because the former will locate bad sectors and recover readable information, not limited to fixing errors.

Step 4: Type exit and press Enter to leave command prompt. After that, you should be able to refresh your computer or start Windows.

Helpful Article: Does CHKDSK utility delete your important data? Here are ways to help your recover CHKDSK deleted files in few steps. CHKDSK Deletes Your Data? Now Recover Them in Few Steps

If this way also fails to fix the locked hard drive, how to unlock a hard drive in Windows 10/8/8.1? Try the next way.

Method Five: Use System File Checker to Repair Missing or Corrupted System Files

System File Checker (SFC) is a utility in Windows that allows users to scan for corruptions in Windows system files and restore corrupted files. However, how to use this tool to repair missing or corrupted system files to unlock hard drive?

Step 1:Open Command Prompt. (Please see Method Three: Fix Boot-related Files with Bootrec.exe Tool know how to open it.)
Step 2: Type sfc /scannow and then press Enter key to perform the operation.

sfc to fix unlocked hard drive

After that, you can try rebooting Windows or refreshing computer to see whether the hard drive locked error still exists.

If you still get the locked hard drive error after trying the above 5 solutions, you can try the last solution to unlock hard drive Windows 10/8/8.1.

Method Six: Restore Windows

Some users say they successfully deal with the "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error by restoring Windows and the steps are shown below.

Step 1: Boot computer via the installation disc.
Step 2: Select your language preferences, and click Next.
Step 3: Click Repair your computer > Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Restore.

Step 4:Then, you will see the System Restore interface as follows. Now, click Next button to continue.

system restore Windows 10

Step 5: After that, you will be given detailed operating prompts. Just do as told to restore the operating system to unlock drive Windows 10/8/8.1.

Note: Sometimes you may find this restore operation stuck on restoring files. This post Easily Fix: Windows 10 System Restore Stuck (Focus on 2 Cases) shows you solutions.

"Here are 6 ways to fix the 'The drive where Windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again' error. Share them with your friends." Click to tweet

Bottom Line

Don't know how to unlock a hard drive in Windows 10/8/8.1 when receiving the error "The drive where Windows is installed is locked"? Try the above 6 solutions now to get out of the trouble.

Should you have any other problem with this locked hard drive issue or operating MiniTool products, just feel free to contact us via [email protected] or leave a message in Comment part below.

The Drive Where Windows Is Installed Is Locked FAQ

How do you fix the drive where Windows is installed is locked?
  1. Rebuild MBR with MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD
  2. Repair Your Computer with Windows Installation Disc
  3. Fix Boot-related Files with Bootrec.exe Tool
  4. Fix Disk Errors with CHKDSK.exe
  5. Use System File Checker to Repair Missing or Corrupted System Files
  6. Restore Windows
How do I unlock a locked drive in Windows 10?
  1. In Windows, click the Start and enter cmd in the Search field, then press the Enter key.
  2. Type bootrec /RebuildBcd and press Enter.
  3. Type bootrec /fixMbr and press Enter.
  4. Type bootrec /fixboot and press Enter.
How can I unlock my drive which is locked with BitLocker?
  1. Go to Windows Explorer.
  2. Double click the Bitlocker encrypted drive.
  3. Choose Unlock Drive from the context menu.
  4. Enter the password to unlock the Bitlocker encrypted drive.
How to format a locked drive?
  1. Open Disk Management.
  2. Right-click on the drive or partition and click on Format.
  3. Select the file system and cluster size.
  4. Click OK to format the BitLocker encrypted drive.
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