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How Can I Access My External Drive If BitLocker Wont Let Me In?

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Encryption is a wonderful thing. While I don’t run full-drive encryption on my Windows desktop at home—courtesy of BitLocker—that’s only because I’m the only one who ever uses my system and I don’t really keep anything of value on it. (All my personal documents and anything I would otherwise encrypt live on a NAS box that’s usually powered down.)

I do this partly because I’m lazy, partly because I want peak performance from my PC, and partly because I dread the day when encryption fucks up—or I’m absentminded about everything I have to do if or when I need to reinstall Windows 10—and I can’t access my data.

It’s a situation Lifehacker reader Jon is all too familiar with. As he writes for this week’s Tech 911 Q&A:

“I have a Western Digital external hard drive and a folder on the hard drive is encrypted with Windows Bitlocker. I forgot I did this, reinstalled windows, and no longer can access the files. Is there a way to fix this?”

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