Unlock Hard Drive | Fix Drive Where Windows Installed Is Locked in Windows 10

Jean updated on Jan 21, 2021 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles

'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 operating system from recovery media or start your PC. Get fixes hereof to remove the error, unlock hard drive and boot your computer with success. The complete process is about: [1]Back up data with bootable WinPE; [2]tackle the problem; [3]recover data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

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 > Advanced Option > Command Prompt...Full steps
Fix 2. Use SFC Command Open Command Prompt by booting PC from Windows installation media > Type sfc /scannow...Full steps
Fix 3. Run bootrec Command Open Command Prompt by booting PC from Windows installation media > Type bootrec /RebuildBcd ...Full steps
Fix 4. Refresh PC Restart PC from Windows installation media > Click "Repair your computer" > "Troubleshoot"...Full steps
Extra Help. Recover Data For the lost data after unlocking Windows drive, run EaseUS file recovery software > Scan and recover...Full steps

Error Explanation

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

It usually happens to Windows 10/8.1/8/7 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 10/8.1/8/7. 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. 

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 you don't have any technical know-how and want to minimize data risks, using third-party software could be a better choice. The Command line is suitable for computer professionals since wrong commands can cause severe problems. Therefore, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative.

EaseUS Tools M is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. It's a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to solve your computer issues.

To fix file system error or disk error:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD EaseUS Tools M for Free and install it.

Step 2: Open the software and select the "File showing" option. 

Step 3: Choose the drive and wait for repairing. After the operation completes, click the "View" button to check the drive. 

select the drive and check off file system error

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.

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.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

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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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files, so verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

About Data Recovery Wizard

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.