> The Drive Where Windows Is Installed Is Locked

6 Solutions - The Drive Where Windows Is Installed Is Locked

Error - The Drive Where Windows Is Installed Is Locked

When Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 is unbootable or runs in errors, many users choose to refresh or reset their PC for fixing since this may restore their computer to the state when it works well, with keeping personal files intact.

In most cases, you can do refresh successfully, but sometimes you may receive the following error message:

"The drive where Windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again."

The drive where Windows is installed is locked

A true example from www.tomsguide.com is shown here:

I upgraded to Windows 8.1 yesterday and I have been having trouble so I am trying to do a Refresh.
It says "the drive where windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again"
What is wrong? What do I do?

Are you troubled by such an issues? Why our hard drive is locked? Do you know how to unlock a hard drive?

Possible Causes for "Hard Drive Locked" Error

It is difficult to say what is the exact culprit for this error, so here we just list 4 possible causes, including:
1. MBR (master boot record) is damaged.
2. Windows system files are corrupted or damaged.
3. BCD (boot configuration data) is damaged. (Note: here, I guess you might be interested in this post: 4 Ways to Fix Boot Configuration Data File Is Missing.)
4. There are errors on the disk.
With knowing causes, we are very likely to fix the error. Next, let's see how to unlock a hard drive.

6 Solutions - The Drive Where Windows Is Installed Is Locked

Method One: Rebuild MBR with MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD

MBR (master boot record) is a special type of boot sector at the very beginning of partitioned computer mass storage devices. It contains a small amount of executable code called the master boot code, the disk signature, and the partition table for the disk. And the master boot code scans the partition table for the active partition, finds the starting sector of the active partition, loads a copy of the boot sector from the active partition into memory, and transfers control to the executable code in the boot sector. Once the master boot code is damaged or corrupted, you are very likely to receive error message when booting or refreshing computer. So you can try rebuilding MBR to see whether this can fix the Windows locked hard drive error.

Now, you might be wondering:
"How to rebuild MBR effectively?"

Here, MiniTool Partition Wizard, a professional partition magic developed by a famous software development company based in Canada, is recommended here. Since Windows cannot boot because of hard drive locked error, we can click the "Bootable Media" feature to download MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Media Builder.

Kindly remind: the free edition of MiniTool Partition Wizard doesn’t provide Bootable Media Builder. Here, you can click the following button to get MiniTool Partition Wizard pro edition to rebuild MBR to unlock hard drive.

Step 1. Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard pro in another normal computer, and then click bootable media in the toolbar.

Step 2. Click WinPE-based media with MiniTool plug-in.

bootable media

Step 3. Create bootable USB drive, or CD/DVD drive.
Sep 4. Connect the MiniTool bootable hard drive to your PC with locked hard drive, and boot from it.
Step 5. Choose the first option "Partition Wizard" in the MiniTool PW Loader interface to enter the main window of MiniTool Partition Wizard.

partition wizard

Step 6. Now, select the system disk which is suffering MBR damage and click "Rebuild MBR" from the left panel.

rebuild MBR

Step 7. Click "Apply" button to perform all changes.

In the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard, experienced users will choose to back up data saved on the locked hard drive to keep data 100% safe because any accident during repair could result in data loss. Here, you also can do this by the following steps.

Step 1. Select the current system disk and choose "Copy Disk" feature from the left action panel.

copy disk

Step 2. Select the disk that is used to hold the copy of system disk and click "Next". Note: please backup all important data on target disk in advance, because all its data will be deleted.

select target disk

Step 3. Select a copying option to decide the layout of target disk, or manually change partition size and location by changing the length and location of partition handle.

copy options

  • If you are an SSD or advanced format HD user, you can check the option "Align partitions to 1MB" to improve disk performance.
  • If the target disk is larger than 2TB, you can check the "Use GUID Partition Table for the target disk", because it supports disks larger than 2TB while MBR supports the maximum disk size of 2TB.

Step 4. Read the popup note carefully, and then click "Finish" button to continue.
Step 5. Click "Apply" button on the top left corner to apply all pending operations.

apply copy disk

If your Windows hard drive is still locked after rebuilding MBR, you can try method 2.

Method Two: Repair Your Computer with Windows Installation Disc

The Repair your computer feature in Windows installation disc could fix problems that are preventing Windows from running. After repair, your Windows might be bootable, and there is no need to refresh the computer. Even if Windows is still unbootable, the error "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" could be fixed, and then you can refresh your computer.

Step 1. You have to prepare an installation disc or repair disk, either USB or CD/DVD.

Tip: you'd better use the installation disc which is for the same edition of Windows you are trying to repair.

Step 2. Connect the installation disc to your computer and boot from it to get the window below (here we take Windows 8 installation disc for example):

windwos 8 choose a language

Step 3. Choose a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard, or an input method, and then click Next to continue.

Step 4. Choose Repair your computer rather than Install now.

windwos 8 repair your computer

Step 5. Click on TroubleshootAdvanced optionsAutomatic Repair (Windows 8) or Startup Repair (Windows 8.1) → choose Windows 8 to repair. Then, Windows will look for and fix problems.

windwos 8 troubleshoot

Useful Article: sometimes, some Windows 8 users will find their Automatic Repair doesn't work. If you have the same problem, don't worry and you can find answers from this post: How Do I Solve - Windows Automatic Repair Not Working.

After the fix is completed, you should be able to start Windows or refresh your computer. But what if this also failed to work? Now, how to unlock a hard drive? Try the third way.

Method Three: Fix Boot-related Files with Bootrec.exe Tool

Bootrec.exe is a Windows snap-in tool to troubleshoot startup issues, and it can repair Master Boot Record, Boot Sector, and Boot Configuration Data. On the internet we found lots of people give feedback and said this method helped them fix the "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error, so we hope this can also help you get out of the trouble.

Here are the steps.
Step 1. Insert the Windows bootable drive and boot from it.
Step 2. Select your language preferences, and click Next.
Step 3. After selecting language, press Shift + F10 to open command prompt.
Step 4. Type bootrec.exe in command prompt and press Enter key to launch the tool.
Step 5. Type the following commands, and each command should end with pressing on Enter key:
bootrec /FixMbr
bootrec /FixBoot
bootrec /RebuildBcd

rebuild bcd

Tip: if you are running Windows from UEFI/GPT boot mode, there is no need to type the first command, because it is used to fix MBR which is only seen in MBR disk.

After the repair is completed, you can quit from Command Prompt and try starting Windows or refreshing computer.

In addition, apart from 3 methods above, we also find other 3 solutions. When the former 3 are finally proved to be useless, try the following 3 to solve the hard drive locked issue.

Method Four: Fix Disk Errors with CHKDSK.exe

CHKDSK is a Windows built-in utility to report disk/volume state if we run it without giving any parameters, and repair problems caused by, or related to, bad sectors, system errors, cross-linked files, directory errors and lost file clusters if we use it by specifying parameters, like /f, and /r. It examines disks and can correct many types of common errors on FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS drives. So you can follow instructions below to try fixing the "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error.

Step 1. Insert the Windows bootable drive and boot from it. Step 2. Click Repair your computer > Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.

command prompt

Step 3. Type the following command and press Enter.
Chkdsk C: /R or chkdsk C: /F

command prompt

Tip: C is the letter of the drive where Windows is installed. If your Windows is installed on D: drive, replace C with D. In addition, with specifying the parameter /R, chkdsk.exe will cost much more time to fix errors compared with giving the /F parameter, because the former will locate bad sectors and recover readable information, not limited to fixing errors.

Step 4. Type exit and press Enter to leave command prompt. After that, you should be able to refresh your computer or start Windows.

Helpful Article: Does CHKDSK utility delete your important data? Here are ways to help your recover CHKDSK deleted files in few steps. CHKDSK Deletes Your Data? Now Recover Them in Few Steps

Method Five: Use System File Checker to Repair Missing or Corrupted System Files

System File Checker (SFC) is a utility in Windows that allows users to scan for corruptions in Windows system files and restore corrupted files. However, how to use this tool to repair missing or corrupted system files?

Step 1. Open Command Prompt. (Please see Method Three: Fix Boot-related Files with Bootrec.exe Tool know how to open it.)
Step 2. Type Sfc /scannow and then press Enter key to perform the operation.

sfc scannow

After that, you can try rebooting Windows or refreshing computer to see whether the hard drive locked error still exists.

If you still get the locked hard drive error after trying the above 5 solutions, you can try the last solution.

Method Six: Restore Windows

Some users say they successfully deal with the "The drive where Windows is installed is locked" error by restoring Windows, and the steps are shown below.

Step 1. Boot computer via the installation disc.
Step 2. Select your language preferences, and click Next.
Step 3. Click Repair your computer.
Step 4. Click on Advanced options.
Step 5. Click on System Restore.

system restore

Step 6. Choose a target operating system.

choose os to restore

Step 7. Then, you will see the System Restore interface as follows. Now, click Next button to continue.

restore system and file settings

Step 8. After that, you will be given detailed operating prompts. Just do as told to restore operating system.

Windows reinstall will cause data loss. Therefore, it is recommended to back up data before reinstalling Windows. However, some users have forgotten to back up their data. Now, what should they do? Is it possible to recover lost data? Here, they can try using MiniTool Power Data Recovery to recover lost data.

Bottom Line

Now, try our methods to fix the error "The drive where Windows is installed is locked". Should you have any other problem with this locked hard drive issue or operating MiniTool products, just feel free to contact us via [email protected] or leave a message in Comment part below. Thanks in advance!