Windows 10

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BitLocker: need a key but I never installed it

Hi all, I have an unusual problem. 3 days ago my hard drive got blocker by BitLocker. It asks for a key in order to unlock my hard drive.

The problem is that I have never installed or set up BitLocker. This is a new laptop and no one had access to it except me. So I am 100% sure that BitLocker was never set up. I bought it via Amazon in Boston 4 months ago.

I checked my Microsoft account but didn't find BitLocker key there (again, because I didn't set it up). I called Dell and they told me I should call Microsoft. I called Microsoft and they told me I should call Dell. It's a closed circle and no one seems to be responsible.

My solution is to re-install Windows but in this case, I will lose all my data (which I don't want to do).

Does Dell community has any recommendations? Did this issue happen in the past? Who could have set up BitLocker encryption on my laptop without providing me with a password?

If I don't recover my data, I consider suing Dell here in Boston. 

Replies (157)

Hi Alan,

thanks for your answer.

I'm exactly in the same situation as those guys. I've never installed bitlocker (and apparently it's not been pushed through the active directory) and therefore never get the key.

But today my laptop crashed so I wanted to perform a restore or login in safe mode but I'm unable to to all this because I need to go through bitlocker first. And I can go further as I've no key.

You'll probably understand that you answer suggesting to reinstall Windows, wipping the data is not acceptable as I've valuable data on my drive which can't be lost.

Can you explain why bitlocker is installed by default on our laptops?

thanks in advance for your answer.



I think the BitLocker is a security process on some systems.  It keeps someone who does not have access to the Microsoft account associated with that system from getting the key.

If you checked you Microsoft account and did a search for RecoveryKey, you should have found at least one.  If there are none in your account you might want to call support and see if they can do something.  There may be a separate key related to the Bios, which my system has never used.

If you have an Azure account, it may be there.  You can search for BitLocker key and find several reputable sites discussing it.  On my system, the path to the key is in the BCD store.  If you want to check and you can't boot your system, you may need recovery media to boot and check from there.

XPS 9365, Inspiron 7567 Gaming, Inspiron 7779, XPS One 2720
System fully Win 11 compliant

Hi all, I am the one who posted the original question 3 months ago.

Here is the summary of what happened which I hope would answer some of your questions. I never set up BitLocker on my laptop. Just never. I didn't even know what BitLocker was until one day it locked my account. I also did not change Bios because I don't know how to change Bios. And one day my computer got locked out of the blue.

I spoke with Dell customer service (which is absolutely useless as we all know). I spoke with Microsoft who said it's 100% Dell's responsibility. I tried everything I could find on the internet. But if you don't have a BitLocker password there is simply no way to unlock your hard drive. And I didn't have a password.

The solution was to format hard drive and reset Windows. In this case, you lose all your data. So instead I bought a new hard drive and simply replace the old one. So the old hard drive that is locked still has all my valuable data and one day I'm hoping to unlock it somehow. But as of today, I don't have a solution.

What I was told by someone who knows how Dell operates in the US, what most likely happened is that my "new" laptop that Dell sold me is NOT actually new. It was returned by someone before I bought it and then later re-sold to me. Technically it was a "new' laptop but Dell's team didn't fully re-installed Windows and as a result, BitLocker was still active from the previous owner. Knowing how bad Dell's customer service is, such scenario wouldn't surprise me at all.

My suggestion is to keep this discussion open. If we get a critical mass, I would love to file a class action suit against Dell. I am confident that Dell caused the problem and they did nothing to solve it.

Any questions - happy to answer here.


@K-User, do you know for a fact the old drive is encrypted? Did you notice it being encrypted before the problem happened?

What was the message you received, to the best of your memory, and were there any other numbers included with any explanation as to how to obtain a Recovery Key?
XPS 9365, Inspiron 7567 Gaming, Inspiron 7779, XPS One 2720
System fully Win 11 compliant

All I know for sure is that my hard drive was encrypted when I used it. And it wasn't me who set up the encryption.

The message I received was a standard BitLocker blue screen asking for a password. There was a link to Microsoft account, but again - because I didn't set up BitLocker my Microsoft account didn't contain any password for it.



I am having similar issue. How did you solve this?


I too have the same problem.  First of all let me say I have been a tech for over 25 years and have Cisco, Microsoft, SAP, etc, etc, etc certificates coming out of my ears.  I'm not saying that because I'm bragging because they don't mean squat to me.  I say that because I want you to know my life is computers.  So this isn't coming from some "newbie."  (Sorry newbies no offense, you'll get old & crusty too just give it time)  Someone mentioned the possibility that the reason some of these computers are having this problem is because they are not "genuine" Dell or they are returns or refurbs.  That is not true.  I am a Dell reseller and sell quite a few Latitudes to a local compact equipment dealer.  They have 6 locations in 4 states and use a lot of laptops.  I order ALL of my laptops through my Premier account.  Brand new Latitudes between $1200-$1800.  Over the past 6-8 months I have had 4 laptops do this exact thing.  I was lucky with 2 of them and just kept rebooting and/or doing a "hard" reset, and they eventually booted.  They have been fine since.  The other 2 however did not boot again.  I had to wipe them clean and start over.  I had backups but that's not the point.  Do you know how long it takes to reload Windows 10 and all the updates (can you say creators edition?).  I called Dell support not to see if they could do anything, because once a drive is encrypted you are NEVER going to access it without the key.  (And of course I didn't have a key BECAUSE I DIDN'T ENCRYPT IT).  The reason I called tech support was to see if they knew why it decided to encrypt itself?  They had no idea and pretty much said it was done by the user.  Like EVERYONE on here has said, it was NOT done by choice.  I can promise you my end users have absolutely no idea what BitLocker is, much less how to use it.  Besides you have to access it through Control Panel and that's not an easy task in Windows 10.  And even if you did somehow manage to access the program, it still requires a lot of input from the user to actually perform the process.  It warns you multiple times so it's not likely that anyone "accidentally" encrypted their drive.  The point I'm trying to make (for those of you who keep hinting that the end user is somehow to blame) is that there's a definite problem, and it's NOT the user.  And it's NOT questionable equipment purchases.  Dell Latitudes are encrypting themselves and someone at Dell needs to acknowledge it and fix it.

Hey guys I just ran into this problem last night and solved it.  On another device enter the website that comes up in the bitlocker screen.  Your outlook email will come up, enter your email you use for windows and than password, it will than ask for you to choose one of your recovery emails, choose one and than confirm it by typing it in also, it will send you a code to that email, go to that email and than you have the code to enter. go back to the regular email and press you have code and than enter it.  Than you will have 1 to 3 different bitlocker codes to unlock your hard drive and get back to windows.  Try all 3 until one of them works on the bitlocker screen.

As mentioned previously by someone else on this thread, Bitlocker is turned on by default with some Windows 10 versions (e.g., Pro, etc.).  You can go to Settings | Update & Security | Device Encryption to view the current status of your drive.  If you prefer, it gives you the option to turn it off (which I suggest most people should do). 

If you need to the contents of your drive encrypted for file security reasons, you will know what this is and how to enable it.  I wish Dell, Microsoft, Seagate, etc. would stop encrypting drives by default.  In the consumer world it is irresponsible and causes a lot of suffering when people can't recover their pictures from Timmy's birthday party.

I have bitlocker on my computer that showed up one day as well.  I did not know bitlocker existed. I am very upset and plan to fight this . I have called Microsoft multiple times and gone to the store in person to be told the same thing . That I must have enabled bitlocker and there is no way they can help me except to just  erase the data . Microsoft has poor customer service and I am extremely dissatisfied with the answers I am being given . I have been told it is Asus fault , my laptop manufacturer , and then Best Buy's fault , my supplier, but the truth is , it's Microsofts fault, they created the program and should have thought of all possible situations that could arise where a consumer may nend to  decrypt their data and lost their key.  How do the developers of bitlocker not have a backup plan to help customers recover keys when they did not set it up? Why did they not think that a situation like this would arise where bitlocker may have even been turned on by someone else and the owner of the laptop wants it removed ? I feel like the people who are on the phones for Microsoft for tech support are a joke who just read you the same scripts over and over until you give up and erase your data. How can I trust them when they give me mixed answers ? And I had to assert my issue with a guy for half an hour before he finally said something different than , I can't help you. And I asked to speak to his supervisor/boss and he said he is busy and that he basically would be busy for eternity. I asked who made Bitlocker and he said a team of developing engineers . I asked why I can't speak with them since they made it . He said they don't deal with customer service . So why can't I speak with someone who actually knows the program inside and out ? That's the person I want to talk to not some tech support guy.  So if this happens to you , and not by choice then fight it and fight it with all you got because it isn't right and it doesn't matter if the difference is big or small your still making a difference and should stand up for what's right . I really hope we can get enough people to make noise about this and be heard because it's very unfair and dissapointing . 

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