I have a HD protected by Bitlocker. Login, password and restorekey are unknown and all I want to do is wipe the whole drive. When I try to boot from a windows installation cd I have no access to the drive since it asks for the restore key I don't have.

Is there a way to format the whole drive to make it usable again?

13 Answers 13


Start a Linux Live CD like the one from GParted and delete all (Bitlocker enabled) partitions.

If that doesn't help, there is still the possibility to wipe the complete disk - after overwriting the first few megabytes the HDD will be recognized as fresh new HDD by Windows. You can do that for example using DBAN but don't forget to disconnect all the other HDDs before using it - otherwise you may delete the wrong HDD and lose all your data.


Press SHIFT-F10 or hit 'repair' in from the Windows installation to open up the command line, then execute the diskpart command and delete the partition, e.g.: list disk, select disk 0 or any other identifying the correct disk, list partition, select partition 1, or the encrypted one , in case there are multiple partitions, then delete partition override.

You can then resume the install procedure normally to repartition and format the drive.

  • 12
    This works! I had to use clean after select disk 0 to wipe all the partition and just start from scratch.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 18:13
  • just did this on a surface pro with win 10,no problems, make sure you select disk 0! i was confused why there where only two partitions at first... and then realised I was looking at the installation USB...
    – vbAdder
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 17:07
  • I usually do, select disk x, clean, convert to mbr or gpt, however in this case I get. Diskpart has encounter am error: incorrect function. See the system log.... So I tried delete volume or partition override, same error. I ran hiren boot cd and tried some tools. bit locker errors.when trying attributes disk clear read-only. I also get error, disparate failed to clear disk attributes Commented Jan 16 at 16:42

I figured it out - You do this:

  1. Hit Win+R to open the run dialogue box and type diskpart and hit “OK” to open a black command prompt window.
  2. Type list disk to display all the disks of your computer.
  3. Type select disk n. Here n stands for the disk you want to work well.
  4. Type list partition to display all the volumes on the hard drive.
  5. Type select partition n. Here n stands for the volume you want to delete.
  6. Type delete partition override to get rid of the volume.
  7. Type exit to close the window. This will wipe all the data on the USB/Partition.
  8. Take your USB out and put it back in again.
  9. You then need to go into Computer Management > Disk Management
  10. Right click the USB/partition > Make new volume.
  11. Then follow the prompts.. Next > next > next - then your done!
  • FYI, this no longer seems to work in Windows 10. "list partition" shows no partitions to select. Commented May 8, 2017 at 12:19
  • This doesn't work under windows 10, del partition override will not delete the partition.
    – Jim B
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 16:45
  • 2
    Worked fine for me on Windows 10. However, it erased all partitions, not just the selected one. Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 12:26

I just install Windows and when it comes to the time where setup asks you where you want to install Windows, I use "advanced options" to delete all partitions. Then let setup create a new partition for you and presto, you're done.

Did this numerous times on a bunch of notebooks we aquired for recycling (I work at a thrift store of some sort), which were all encrypted with Bitlocker. It must have been at least 100 notebooks from a office centre that went belly-up, no problems what-so-ever.

Hope this helps! Grtz, TDM

  • I booted from a Windows 7 install Thumb drive though, not a cd.....
    – TDM
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 14:03

Deleting the partition didn't work for me - I just wasn't able to select the partition ('No partition was selected.')

However, once you select the USB drive (double check that you have the right drive selected!), the whole disk can also be wiped out like this:

[DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.]

create partition primary
[DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.]

select partition 1
[Partition 1 is now the selected partition.]

[DiskPart marked the current partition as active.]

format fs=FAT32 quick
[100 percent completed
DiskPart successfully formatted the volume.]

[DiskPart successfully assigned the drive letter or mount point.]


My data drive (D) was encrypted with BitLocker, and I had a normal Windows installation running on my OS drive (C).

I wanted to wipe the D drive, which was as simple as Windows Explorer > right click D drive > Format.

  • In my case it was an external USB key. This worked without any issues, just making sure that the option "Quick Format" was unticked
    – maurocam
    Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 9:23

If data in the external HDD is not a concern,then do the following:

  1. Press the start button and search for Disk Management and from the result select "Create and Format hard disk partitions"
  2. Look for your External hard disk
  3. Right click on format. Formatting from My Computer is not possible for Bitlocker-enabled hard drive.
  4. Now you get a dialog stating all your data will be lost.Click"Yes"
  5. you'll get another dialog stating"This drive is Bitlocker enabled,formatting it will remove Bitlocker. Obviously, click yes.
  6. Now your HDD is formatted and you can now again access it the way you used to P.s: Don't again try messing with Bitlocker it might/will get you in a lot of trouble
  • Bitlocker is a perfectly fine encryption tool, and encryption should always be used in this day and age.
    – bshacklett
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 22:12
  • bitlocker is so garbage, it gets in a loop encrypting or decrypting - you end up corrupting some data if you remove the disk to break the loop, or losing all of your data if you format the drive in the end. Standard Microsoft dogshit
    – Price
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 19:33

You dont absolutely need DBAN, GParted or another third party tool. Just Bootup WindowsPE (e.g. with a windows installation media on USB Stick or DVD) and use the windows format command to format the drive. When you have a Bitlocker encrypted drive, you just need to securely delete its encryption keys. For this its enough to format the drive.


I have an SSD that was locked by BitLocker. Thankfully I did not need to get at the data. I just wanted to reuse the drive. At first I thought I would need to use Linux as mentioned by another user, but thankfully I did not.

Here's what I did:

  1. I bought an external drive housing that fit my drive.

  2. I plugged it into another laptop via USB.

  3. At first, it did not show up in my drive list. Luckily I got distracted with something else and left it plugged in. After about five minutes, it popped up on my list, and an additional pop up window came up asking for the BitLocker key.

  4. I left the pop up window there (not sure if that mattered), and went over to the drive in my file explorer. I right-clicked, and it let me format the drive!

  5. Then I put it back in the original laptop, changed the BIOS to boot from CD, and installed Windows 10 from CD.


For those wiping a disk or memory card with Linux, I can confirm that wiping the first 4 MB and creating a new fat32 filesystem worked fine for me for an SD card used in a Windows phone. (The SD card was no longer available after a device reset.) No need to delete partitions. (Not sure whether the phone would even accept an SD card without partition.)


I think that the method that I used was simpler than most of these suggestions. I just did this on a number of our company's laptops. We are closing and will be turning all of our assets, including the computers, over to the new tenants. So we needed a way to wipe all of the hard drives and I didn't really want to enter a BitLocker key for each of the units.

  1. Boot the computer into the BIOS.
  2. Reset the TPM to the default values (actually I set all BIOS values to their factory values).
  3. Use Darick's Boot And Nuke (DBAN) to create a bootable CD.
  4. Reboot the computer and hit F12 (or whatever function key your computer uses) to select the alternate boot menu.
  5. Boot from the CD, select the data wiping algorithm and let it go.
  6. If you do not have an optical drive you can create a bootable USB drive with DBAN and an ISO to USB utility and boot from the USB.

You will be left with a hard drive with no partitions and no operating system.

  • This does not answer the OPs question. The OP asked "I have a HD protected by Bitlocker....[how do I] wipe the whole drive?" Can you edit your answer to explain how to wipe the drive in the event it's already BitLocker encrypted? Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 18:57

Using DISKPART to remove all partitions worked for me. If bitlocker is mandatory then first fully update windows and drivers and bios before enabling bitlocker. Otherwise you will need to do all the tedious stuff like pausing protection on/off after each reboot update.


I inherited a fully loaded Lenovo laptop that had Win8 that the local IT shop was hired to upgrade to Win10 The PC had bitlocker on and they had the key but somehow blew the install and told the customer it was trashed.

The fix was simple - boot to a Win10 bootable USB (or DVD if you have that option) When you get to the 'where to install' screen, delete all of the partitions - that wipes out the bitlocker info and Win10 installs without a hitch.

For an hour of my time and $25 for a new charger I got an i7 8gb touchscreen convertible that brand new was easily $1000 plus - not too shabby! The interesting thing was that Windows was automatically activated.

The Win10 files can be downloaded from Microsoft for free and as long as you have a Win7 or 8 license it will activate. Just go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 select create media to download the installation tool. The instructions for creating bootable USB or DVD media are on that page.


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