Can’t enable BitLocker for pendrive or USB removable drive

If your pendrive or removable drive (after selecting it in This PC) has BitLocker button disabled (in Protect section of Drive Tools tab) or if you can’t see it listed in BitLocker itself then it is (currently) not supported. Most guides you’ll find will tell you that the destructive way of formatting drive is the only option.

That turned out to be not true, at least in my case. Simple deactivation of pendrive’s partition using DiskPart solved problem.

Of course you need Windows 10 Pro, because “lower” editions of this system does not have BitLocker.

Follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, type cmd, right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator from context menu.
  2. Type diskpart and hit Enter.
  3. Type list disk and hit Enter. Locate your removable drive by looking at Size column.
  4. Type select disk n where n is number (in Disk ### column) that corresponds to your disk. Hit Enter.
  5. Type list partition and hit Enter. Usually your drive will have only one
  6. Type select partition 1 (or other number) and hit Enter.
  7. Type inactive to make selected partition inactive and hit Enter.
  8. Type exit twice and confirm with Enter twice to leave DiskPart and Command Prompt.

The message:

DiskPart marked the current partition as inactive

in 7th point should confirm that the whole process has completed successfully. You should now be able to use BitLocker on your removable drive.

Please note that in my case, immediately after performing above steps:

  • neither BitLocker button become enabled (in Protect section of Drive Tools tab of This PC)
  • nor Manage BitLocker item appeared (in pendrive’s context menu).

So, at first sight all looked like nothing has changed.

But that was just some kind of glitch in Windows itself. Opening BitLocker program itself revealed that drive is actually listed among removable drives and I could start encryption process for it.

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