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How to Format BitLocker Drive/USB/SD Card With or Without Password

Updated by Daisy on Mar 26, 2021
Written by Daisy

This page explains what is Bitlocker partition, why do you need to format BitLocker drive and how to format a BitLocker drive, USB, or SD card with ease on Windows 10/8/7 computers.

Here is quick navigation of the content on this page, you can use it to find fixes for this issue immediately:

BitLocker Drive Overview

Before getting to know how to format Bitlocker drive, you may first need to know:

  1. 1. What is BitLocker?
  2. 2. What can BitLocker drive do?

According to Wikipedia, "BitLocker is a volume encryption feature included in all Windows versions starting with Windows Vista. It's designed to protect data by providing encryption for an entire volume."

Unlock BitLocker Encrypted drive

When enabling BitLocker on a hard disk, USB flash drive, or SD card on your computer, Microsoft Windows encodes the files and folders stored on the device so that only the permitted users can access the data.

Can I Format a BitLocker Encrypted Hard Drive

"Several days ago, I got a Bitlocker encrypted external hard drive. I want to remove BitLocker to decrypt the hard drive, but the problem is that I don't know the password nor recovery key. 

Can I format the BitLocker drive and make it usable again?"

A: Yes. When you enabled or even locked BitLocker drive, USB, SD card, you can format it on your own.

In most cases, you can easily format or even wipe a hard drive. However, if the hard drive or USB is encrypted with Windows BitLocker, things become a bit more complex.

If you are trying to format the BitLocker drive, follow through the following parts to restore your drive back to a normal state:

  1. #1. Check BitLocker Drive State - Locked or Unlocked
  2. #2. Unlock BitLocker Encrypted Drive
  3. #3. Format BitLocker Drive with 4 Methods

Part 1. Check BitLocker Drive State - Is The Drive Locked or Unlocked

Before you start, open Windows File Explorer to check the state of your BitLocker encrypted drive first:

Case 1. BitLocker drive is locked

If your BitLocker drive or USB is encrypted with a golden lock icon, it means that your drive is currently locked. You'll have to unlock it first before formatting.

Unlock BitLocker Encrypted drive

Case 2. BitLocker drive is unlocked

If your BitLocker drive is unlocked with a blue lock icon, it means that your drive data is currently visible and editable. You can also access and even make changes to the saved files, even including the drive.

In other words, when your BitLocker drive is unlocked, you can directly jump to Part 3 and apply one method to format the drive immediately.

Unlock BitLocker Encrypted drive

IMPORTANT: If you have vital data saved on the BitLocker hard drive or external USB, SD card, unlock the drive, and back up data to another secure location first. 

Part 2. Unlock BitLocker Drive Before Formatting

Note that when your drive is encrypted by BitLocker password, you must unlock it first. Once the BitLocker drive is locked, Windows will change the file system parameters, directory entries, and other important parameters of the disk. 

As a result, except for Windows itself, no other software can recognize and access the drive. In this part, you'll learn two ways to unlock the BitLocker hard drive or USB, SD:

Way 1. Unlock BitLocker Drive with Password

Step 1. Open Windows File Explorer and locate the BitLocker encrypted drive.

Step 2. Double-click the BitLocker drive or external drive, enter your password in the pop-up window.

Step 3. And click "Unlock" to unlock the drive.

Unlock BitLocker Encrypted drive

Now, you can access the drive and manage everything in the BitLocker drive without any problem. 

Way 2. Run Clean Command to Clear BitLocker Encryption (without Password)

If you have forgotten the recovery key or password for the BitLocker drive, you can try the clean command in DiskPart to remove the encryption.

We suggest you try every means to find your password and unlock the drive. As this operation will delete the partition and data on the BitLocker drive. 

Do it carefully:

Step 1. Type cmd in Windows Search and right-click on Command Prompt and select "Run as administrator".

Step 2. Type diskpart and hit Enter.

Step 3. Type the following commands and hit Enter each time:

  • list disk
  • select disk *
  • list partition
  • select partition * (Replace * with the partition label of your BitLocker drive or USB)
  • delete partition overrride

Step 4. Type exit to close diskpart window.

Now, you can create a new partition on the unallocated space and format it to NTFS for saving data again. 

Way 3. Turn to 1-0n-1 Remote Assistance Service Provided by EaseUS

Note that, EaseUS support team also recently provide you with a 1 on 1 remote assistance service. If you are having trouble in unlocking the BitLocker drive, you may turn to our support team for help.

Do You Need Specialized Services for Unlocking BitLocker?
EaseUS also provides 1-on-1 remote assistance to unlock BitLocker drive. If the solution above does not work for you, please contact our professionals via Email or LiveChat in this page. To ensure our professional assistance work, you are suggested to stop using the BitLocker encrypted drive when getting connected with us.

Part 3. Format BitLocker Drive on Windows 10/8/7 (4 Methods)

This part shows you how to format the Bitlocker encrypted hard drive using the following 4 tools:

  1. 1. EaseUS partition tool (easiest)
  2. 2. Windows File Explorer (Beginners)
  3. 3. Disk Management (Experienced Users)
  4. 4. CMD Format Command (Professionals)

Fix 1. Format BitLocker Encrypted Drive Using EaseUS Partition Tool

EaseUS partition tool is the best disk formatting tool that you can try to format the hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, and more to various file systems like FAT32, NTFS, FAT, etc. All levels of Windows users can apply it to manage partitions on an internal hard drive or external storage devices.

It is helpful even the drive, or memory card is encrypted with BitLocker. Now, let's see how to format BitLocker drive after unlocking it: 

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2. Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Step 3. In the Warning window, click "OK" to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

Step 4. Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

Fix 2. Format with File Explorer

Step 1. Connect your BitLocker drive to PC if it's an external storage device.

Step 2. Open Windows File Explorer and right-click on the BitLocker drive, select "Format".

Step 3. Tick "Quick Format" on the format window, set the file system (NTFS for an internal hard drive, FAT32 for USB/SD smaller than 32GB, exFAT for big external drive) and click "Start".

Format Bitlocker partition

Wait for the process to complete, you can now use it as a normal data drive again.

Fix 3. Format BitLocker Encrypted Drive Using Disk Management

Step 1. Type Control Panel in the search box. And click "Control Panel".

Step 2. Click "Administrative Tools" > "Computer Management" > "Disk Management".

Step 3. Right-click on the drive or partition and click on "Format".

Format Bitlocker partition

Step 4. Select the file system and set the cluster size.

Step 5. Click "OK" to format the BitLocker encrypted disk, USB flash drive, or SD card.

Fix 4. Format BitLocker Drive in DiskPart with Format Command

Step 1. Type cmd in the Search box, right-click Command Prompt, and select "Run as administrator".

Step 2. Type diskpart and hit Enter.

Step 3. Type the following commands and hit Enter each time to format BitLocker drive:

  • list disk
  • select disk *
  • list volume
  • select volume *
  • format fs=ntfs quick

Step 4. When DiskPart tells the format has completed, type exit and hit enter to close DiskPart.

Format bitlocker partition

Now, you can save files to the drive again.

Bonus Tip 1: How to Remove BitLocker from Hard Drive/USB/SD Card

If you have turned on Bitlocker for a drive on your computer, you can normally write data to and read data from it. But when you want to install Windows, you will see "Windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space. Bitlocker drive encryption is enabled." error message.

To resolve this issue, you can turn off Bitlocker and decrypt the drive by following the steps below:

Note that if your BitLocker drive is currently locked, use your password to unlock it first.

Step 1. Go to Control Panel on your computer. Click on "BitLocker Drive Encryption".

Step 2. Find the Bitlocker encrypted drive and choose "Turn Off BitLocker" to decrypt the hard drive, USB flash drive, or SD card. Wait for the decrypting to finish. 

format Bitlocker drive - turn off Bitlocker

Bonus Tip 2: Recover Files from Formatted BitLocker Encrypted Drive

Currently, there is no third-party software or solution on the market that can recover files from formatted BitLocker encrypted hard drive. But you can recover files from a formatted hard drive that is not encrypted with a data recovery software, like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

If you fail to back up data but directly formatted the BitLocker drive, EaseUS data recovery software is your best chance. This top-notch file recovery tool enables you to recover lost and deleted, even permanently deleted files from HDD, SSD, USB flash drive, pen drive, SD card, and external hard drives without effort.

Let's see how to recover data after formatting BitLocker drive:

Step 1. Choose the partition.

Launch EaseUS formatted data recovery software after the installation. Choose the hard drive partition which you've accidentally formatted. Click "Scan".

select a partition and click scan

Step 2. Select wanted files.

After the scanning process, you can click "Filter" to filter a specific file type to quickly find wanted files.

select files

Step 3. Recover files to a secure location.

Select the data files you wish to recover. Click "Recover". Choose a location to store the files and click "OK".

recover files

Conclusion

On this page, we explained that is BitLocker encryption and the complete process of removing or formatting BitLocker drive from your PC. 

To protect your data security, we highly suggest you first unlock the drive, back up data, and then format the BitLocker drive, USB, or SD card with ease.

For the easiest formatting way, either EaseUS Partition Master or Windows File Explorer Formatting can both help. 

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Updated by Daisy

Daisy is the Senior editor of the writing team for EaseUS. She has been working in EaseUS for over ten years, starting from a technical writer to a team leader of the content group. As a professional author for over 10 years, she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.

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