Get the fix to the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error that appears on Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 systems.

About “The drive where Windows is installed is locked”

The following information on this error has been compiled by NeoSmart Technologies, based on the information gathered and reported by our global network of engineers, developers, and technicians or partner organizations.

Description and Symptoms

The error messages, alerts, warnings, and symptoms below are tied to this error.

Symptom 1: “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error screen on startup

This error may occur due to any malware or third-party software conflicts that corrupted the system files, or because of an internal hardware failure like the SSD hard drive that is connected to the Windows computer. This error screen isn’t identified by an error code like the “Your PC needs to be repaired” error:

The drive where windows is installed is locked error screen

Refresh your PC

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

Cancel

Causes of this Error

This error has been known to occur as a result of one of the following causes:

Cause 1: Corrupt system files

The most common cause of this error is a corrupt boot-related system file that is required for Windows to load properly. This is usually caused by disk write errors, virus attacks or power outages.

Cause 2: File system integrity compromised

Alternatively, this error can be encountered if the Windows file system gets damaged on a bigger scale.

Cause 3: BCD file is damaged

The BCD(Boot Configuration Data) file that contains boot configuration parameters for Windows system, is a very important part of booting process. If that file becomes damaged, then the boot process is halted.

Fixing “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” on Windows

Windows Setup CD/DVD Required!
Some of the solutions below require the use of the Microsoft Windows setup CD or DVD. If your PC did not come with a Windows installation disc or if you no longer have your Windows setup media, you can use Easy Recovery Essentials for Windows instead. EasyRE will automatically find and fix many problems, and can also be used to solve this problem with the directions below.

Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

Easy Recovery Essentials can fix many errors such as this automatically using its built-in Automated Repair option. EasyRE is currently available for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and can be downloaded and created on any PC.

  1. Download Easy Recovery Essentials. Make sure to note your Windows version (XP, Vista, 7 or 8) before you download EasyRE. This guide can help you identify what version of Windows you have installed.
  2. Burn the image. Follow these instructions on how to burn the bootable ISO image very carefully, as making a bootable CD can be tricky! Alternatively, these instructions explain how to create a bootable EasyRE recovery USB stick/drive.
  3. Boot up your PC from the Easy Recovery Essentials CD or USB you created.
  4. Once EasyRE is running, choose the “Automated Repair” option and click Continue.
    EasyRE Home

    Choose “Automated Repair” in Easy Recovery Essentials

  5. After EasyRE scans your computer’s drives, identify and select the drive letter for your Windows installation from the list, and then click on the Automated Repair button to begin.
    EasyRE displays a list of found Windows operating systems

    Choose the drive associated with the Windows installation you’re trying to repair.

  6. Easy Recovery Essentials will start analyzing the selected drive for problems. EasyRE will test for and attempt to automatically correct errors with the disk, partition, bootsector, filesystem, bootloader, and registry. No intervention is required, as EasyRE’s repair is fully automated:
    EasyRE: Automated Repair

    Easy Recovery Essentials searches for errors and makes corrections to the selected Windows installation.

  7. Once the process is complete, EasyRE will report its findings. Click on the Restart button to reboot your PC and test the changes.
  8. The “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error should now be fixed as your PC begins to load:
    EasyRE: Automated Repair

    Windows, booting up successfully.

You can download Easy Recovery Essentials from here.

Fix #2: Run Automatic Repair

The Automatic Repair utility, which is available in Windows 8/8.1/10 by default, might fix the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error.

To access Automatic Repair on your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the Windows DVD/USB and reboot the system.

    If you don’t have your original Windows 8 installation media, go to Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

  2. Boot from the media
  3. Click Repair your computer
  4. Navigate to Troubleshoot > Automatic Repair
  5. Continue with the wizard to complete the process
Windows 8 Repair your computer screen

Windows 8 Repair your computer screen

If running Automatic Repair didn’t fix the error, go to Fix #3: chkdsk to run the chkdsk utility.

Fix #3: Check disk for errors with chkdsk utility

The chkdsk utility will check the integrity of your hard disk. You can try to fix the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error with the chkdsk /r command.

To do so, follow these steps to access chkdsk:

  1. Restart the computer with the original installation media (that’s either the DVD or the USB flash drive)

    If you don’t have the original install media, go to Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

  2. Click Repair your computer
  3. At the Choose an option screen, click Troubleshoot
  4. Click Advanced options
  5. Click Command Prompt
  6. Type this command:
    chkdsk C: /f /x /r

    Where C: is the letter of the drive where Windows 8/8.1/10 is installed on. If your Windows 8 is installed on the D: drive, enter D:

  7. Press Enter
Chkdsk results screen

Chkdsk results screen

Fix #4: Use bootrec to rebuild the BCD file

In some cases, the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error can appear due to damage or corruption of the BCD file on your Windows system.

To fix the BCD, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the installation media and boot from it

    If you don’t have the original disc, go to Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

  2. At the Install screen, click Repair your computer or press R
  3. Navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt
  4. Type this command:
    bootrec /FixMbr
  5. Press Enter
  6. Type this command:
    bootrec /FixBoot
  7. Press Enter
  8. Type this command:
    bootrec /ScanOs
  9. Press Enter
  10. This this command:
    bootrec /RebuildBcd
  11. Press Enter
  12. Remove the installation media from the disc tray or USB port
  13. Type exit
  14. Press Enter
  15. Restart your computer
Bootrec utility results screen

Bootrec utility results screen

Fix #5: Set the correct partition

If Fix #4: bootrec didn’t fixed the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error by replacing the boot loader of your Windows 8, you may need to set the correct partition first and then run bootrec again.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Boot from the install media as explained in Fix #4: bootrec until you reach Command Prompt

    If you don’t have the original disc, go to Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

  2. When Command Prompt appears, type this command:
    diskpart
  3. Press Enter
  4. Then type:
    sel disk 0
  5. Press Enter
  6. Then type:
    list vol
  7. Press Enter
  8. Check the volume listed by Command Prompt with FAT32 at the Fs column. Once you identified the volume, type this command:
    sel vol 2

    Replace 2 with the volume’s number.

  9. Press Enter
  10. You need to assign a new letter to this partition. The letter must be unique, e.g. it can’t be c::
    assign letter x:

    Replace x: from the command above with a unique letter for this partition.

  11. Press Enter
  12. Wait for the confirmation message from the diskpart utility to appear:
    DiskPart successfully assigned the drive letter or mount point.
  13. Then type:
    exit
  14. Press Enter
  15. Then type:
    cd /d x:\EFI\Microsoft\Boot

    Make sure to replace x: with the letter you’ve assigned earlier.

  16. Press Enter
  17. Then type:
    bootrec /fixboot
  18. Press Enter
  19. Then type:
    ren BCD BCD.Backup

    This will create a backup of your current BCD file.

  20. Press Enter
  21. Then type:
    bcdboot c:\Windows /l en-us /s x: /f ALL

    Make sure to replace x: with the letter you’ve assigned earlier.

  22. Press Enter
  23. Remove the install media from the disc tray or USB port
  24. Type:
    exit
  25. Press Enter
  26. Restart the computer

Fix #5: Refresh the PC

You can perform a Refresh of your Windows 8/8.1/10 system.

Refresh acts as a reinstall of your Windows 8 without affecting your personal files. This might fix the “The drive where Windows is installed is locked” error.

To run Refresh, follow these steps:

  1. Restart your computer
  2. Boot from the Windows 8/8.1/10 installation media (the original DVD or USB drive).

    If you don’t have your original Windows 8 installation media, go to Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

  3. Click Repair your computer
  4. Click Troubleshoot and then click Refresh your PC
  5. Follow the wizard instructions to complete the process
Windows 8 Repair your computer screen

Windows 8 Repair your computer screen

More Information

Linked Entries

Support Links

Applicable Systems

This Windows-related knowledgebase article applies to the following operating systems:

  • Windows 8 (all editions)
  • Windows 8.1 (all editions)
  • Windows 10 (all editions)

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