Unlock Hard Drive | Fix Drive Where Windows Installed Is Locked

'The drive where Windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again.' This is a Windows error when you attempt to install/restore the operating system from recovery media or start your PC. Get fixes here to remove the error, unlock the hard drive and boot your computer. The complete process is about: [1]Back up data with bootable WinPE; [2]tackle the problem; [3]recover data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

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Table of Contents

Stay here and pick up one practical fix to unlock your Windows hard drive if you are getting the error message that "The drive where Windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again". Five fixes and one reliable data recovery software are ready here to help you out:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Run CHKDSK Boot PC from Windows installation media...Full steps
Fix 2. Use SFC Command Open Command Prompt by booting PC...Full steps
Fix 3. Run bootrec Command Type bootrec /RebuildBcd ...Full steps
Fix 4. Refresh PC Restart PC from Windows installation media...Full steps
Extra Help. Recover Data For the lost data after unlocking Windows drive...Full steps

Error Explanation

About "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error:

It usually happens to Windows 11/10/8/7 system recovery when a critical system file is missing or corrupted, the System Boot Configuration Data (BCD) is damaged or some required information is missing.

the drive where windows is installed is locked

Data Backup

You should know that this locked hard drive issue will prevent you from starting your computer as normal. To access data and create an exact copy of the hard drive, you need to back up data without booting into Windows, and third-party EaseUS backup and recovery software could help achieve the goal.

On a working computer, go to the EaseUS Todo Backup product page, download and install it for a 30-day free trial. Prepare a USB flash drive or a CD/DVD disc in advance, to create a bootable recovery disk as the below video demonstrates. Afterward, boot your problematic computer from the recovery disk, and start disk/partition backup


The following are the 4 widely used methods to unlock hard drive so that you can refresh your PC and completely get rid of "the drive where Windows is installed is locked" problem. The methods are applicable to major Windows operating system including Windows 11/10/8/7. Pick up one that works the best for you.

Fix 1. Check disk errors with CHKDSK

The CHKDSK utility is built-in Windows, aiming to check the integrity of your hard disk and fix bad sectors if any were found. 

Caution: The CHKDSK command will erase all saved files on the target device while fixing the disk error. So make sure to recover all data first with reliable data recovery software.

1. Boot the computer via the Windows installation media either a USB stick or a DVD, and go to "Next".

2. Click "Repair your computer" > "Advanced startup options" > "Troubleshoot" > "Advanced options" > "Command prompt".

3. On the command prompt window, you will need to input the command line (C: is where your Windows is installed).

  • chkdsk C: /f /x /r

4. Press "Enter" on the keyboard for the check to start.

5. After this operation is finished, please reboot the Windows computer and check to see if you get the same error.

If command line is not your ideal choice, you can apply this command-line alternative tool - EaseUS CleanGenius. Use this one-click tool to fix the file system error on your hard drive.

Step 1.  DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenius on your computer for free. 

Step 2. Run the software. Click "Optimization" on the left panel, and then choose "File Showing" . 

select the file showing option

Step 3. Go to "Choose drive" and select the drive with a file system error. Check the "Check and fix file system error" option and click "Execute".

fix file system

Step 4. Wait the EaseUS CleanGenius completes the repairing process. After that, click the "here" to view the result.

fix file system

Fix 2. Use the SFC command

The SFC command is a Command Prompt command that can be used to verify and replace important Windows system files. Many troubleshooting steps likewise advise the use of the SFC command.

1. Open the command prompt window as you did in [Fix 1].

2. Type the following command in the command prompt window:

  • sfc /scannow

3. Press "Enter" on the keyboard.

4. Let the scan finish and fix any potential errors.

5. Reboot your Windows computer and check if you have the same error message.

Fix 3. Perform the bootrec command

1. Go to the "Troubleshoot" feature in Windows as you did in [Fix 1].

2. Type "Advanced options" > "Automatic repair" > "Command prompt".

3. Type the command line and press "Enter" on the keyboard:

  • bootrec /RebuildBcd

4. Type the command line and press "Enter" on the keyboard:

  • bootrec /fixMbr

5. Type the command line and press "Enter" on the keyboard:

  • bootrec /fixboot

6. Type the command line: exit, and press "Enter" on the keyboard.

7. Reboot your Windows computer and see if you still get the error message.

Fix 4. Refresh the PC

1. Restart your computer and boot from the USB drive or DVD installation media.

2. Click "Repair your computer".

3. Click "Troubleshoot" and then click "Refresh your PC".

4. Follow the wizard instructions to complete the process.

Extra help: How to recover data without backup

Refreshing Windows or unlocking the hard drive, are helpful methods to deter the 'drive where Windows is installed is locked' error. But there's a big risk that you lost some precious data on the hard drive in the process. So we feel responsible for offering some extra help if data loss really happens.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.4

If by chance, Windows data, system files, personal files, and other information are erased by performing the command line, refreshing, system restoring methods, use EaseUS data recovery software to perform a hard disk recovery and get your data back! Other issues such as recover deleted files can also be easily fixed. It's user-friendly, safe, and efficient. Feel free to download it whenever you are in need.

Video Tutorial: Recover Files from Hard Drive

People Also Ask 

If you have further questions related to how to unlock the drive where Windows is installed, check the questions and answers below. You may find a satisfying answer:

1. How do I unlock the drive where Windows 10 is installed?

When the hard drive where you installed Windows 10 is locked, you may run the following command to unlock it:

  • In Windows, click the Start and enter cmd in the Search field, then press the Enter key.
  • Type bootrec /RebuildBcd and press Enter.
  • Type bootrec /fixMbr and press Enter.
  • Type bootrec /fixboot and press Enter.
  • Type exit to close the command prompt and restart Windows computer.

2. How do you unlock a computer drive?

When your computer hard drive gets locked, you may try the following steps to unlock it:

  1. Step 1. Run a disk check using CHKDSK command.
  2. Step 2. Run a system file check with sfc /scannow command.
  3. Step 3. Complete a startup repair with "bootrec /RebuildBcd", "bootrec /fixMbr", and "bootrec /fixboot" commands.
  4. Step 4. Try a system restore.
  5. Step 5. Refresh your PC.

3. Why is my drive locked?

For OS drive:

According to the explanation on this page, the error of "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" usually comes out when a critical file system is missing or corrupted. 

It may also get locked when the System Boot Configuration data gets damaged or some required information is missing.

For data drive:

Usually, a data hard drive can be locked due to various reasons, including disk is write-protected, password setting, encryption software, malware or virus infection, etc.

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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Written by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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