Unlocking a computer using a BitLocker recovery key

All Windows computers issued to faculty and staff are protected by BitLocker encryption.   You may encounter an error upon startup requesting the BitLocker recovery key to proceed with booting into Windows.  This may occur if there is external media plugged into the machine (external flash drive, optical disk, or other bootable media), a BIOS update, a Windows update, or other reasons.

If you have external media plugged into the computer, remove the media and restart the computer.  This may prevent the BitLocker recovery screen from appearing.

The BitLocker recovery screen will look similar to the image below:

Bitlocker error page

Note the first eight characters of the Recovery Key ID that appear on your computer screen. You will need these to retrieve your recovery key.


Retrieve your new recovery key using the following steps

Instructions 3

  • Enter the first eight digits of the Recovery Key ID
  • Select the appropriate reason you need to recover your key
  • Press “Get Key” to retrieve the key
  • Enter the entire 48-digit BitLocker Recovery Key on the computer requesting the recovery key


If this issue continues to occur every time you boot the computer, you may need to take these steps to reset BitLocker’s normal state after entering the BitLocker recovery key:

  • Go to Control Panel
  • Open the BitLocker Drive Encryption console and select “Suspend Protection”
  • Restart the computer

Bitlocker console




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Last modified: February 7, 2019