There might be several reasons you need to check the Bitlocker encryption status, and you have landed on this blog post:
- You want to verify if your machine is Bitlocker encrypted
- You have implemented Bitlocker in your organization
- You are planning on implementing Bitlocker in your organization
- You wish to restore a Bitlocker encrypted device
I will answer the following questions in this blog post:
- What is Bitlocker?
- Why should you use Bitlocker?
- How do you check the Bitlocker encryption status using Powershell, CMD, and the GUI?
What is Bitlocker?
Bitlocker is Microsoft’s encryption method, introduced with Windows Vista.
Bitlocker leverages 128-bit or 256-bit encryption strength, where the default is XTS-AES 128-bit encryption.
The benefits of using Bitlocker over 3rd party alternatives
This is especially beneficial when upgrading to a new version of Windows 10.
Speaking from my experience, 3rd party antivirus and encryption alternatives is a major hassle when upgrading Windows 10.
Bitlocker uses 128-bit encryption by default but can be changed to 256-bit encryption.
With Windows 10 1903, Microsoft changed its recommendation from 256-bit encryption to 128-bit encryption. The reason for this being that customers had reported performance issues and Microsoft could see no reason for keeping the 256-bit encryption recommendation.
Read more about this in the security baseline for Windows 10 1903:
What is Bitlocker pre-provisioning?
It is possible to enable Bitlocker encryption on all the space on your drive or just the space being used.
The recommended method is to encrypt all the free space.
With traditional, mechanical disks, this takes quite a long time.
To ease this, you can use Bitlocker pre-provisioning, where only the used space was encrypted.
Now with SSDs, this long wait is gone, and you can safely encrypt all free space.
I have written a blog post about why Bitlocker allocates all your free space.
What is Bitlocker pre-provisioning
If you are deploying Bitlocker via SCCM or MDT, you can configure the task sequence to pre-provision the drive in Windows PE. This will only encrypt the used space and is much faster than encrypting the whole drive. Long Bitlocker encryption times were an issue with traditional hard drives, but with SSD drives, this is not as big of an issue.
The TPM chip
Bitlocker leverages hardware security iusing the TPM chip.
TPM version 2.0 vs. 1.2
Bitlocker without a TPM chip
There may be several reasons for not having an active TPM chip:
- The computer is in a restricted area, such as China, where the TPM chip is sometimes not allowed
- The computer is old and does not have a TPM chip
Why should you use Bitlocker?
Enabling Bitlocker in your environment is generally recommended to increase security.
Most organizations that I have seen implement Bitlocker, or any other security feature, AFTER they have been compromised.
This is not a good strategy, so please, be proactive in this aspect.
The great thing is that it is super-easy using SCCM, MDM, or Group Policy.
Is Bitlocker enabled by default?
Bitlocker automatic device encryption is enabled by default if you log in to Windows 10 using a Microsoft or Azure account.
Bitlocker is not automatically enabled if you log in using a local account.
How do I enable Bitlocker?
Bitlocker can be enabled during Operating System Deployment or on existing machines.
After enabling Bitlocker in your organization, you might want a simple command for checking the encryption status of a client.
How to check Bitlocker encryption status
As I mentioned in the introduction, there are several ways of checking the Bitlocker encryption status.
The methods I explain in this blog post are:
- The GUI in Windows 10
- Powershell using a built-in Commandlet
- Command-Line (CMD) using the manage-bde command
Check if Bitlocker is enabled using the GUI in Windows 10
Search for Manage Bitlocker or go to Control Panel -> Bitlocker Drive Encryption
Look for Windows (C:) Bitlocker on
Use Powershell to check Bitlocker status
Check if Bitlocker is enabled using the Command-Line (CMD)
manage-bde -status c:
After running the above command, you should see the below output:
From the picture above, the following properties show Bitlocker status:
- Conversion Status
- Percentage Encrypted
- Protection Status
All the above properties give you a sign of the current encryption status of Bitlocker.
How do I unlock a Bitlocker-enabled device?
If your device has intentionally or unintentionally been locked, you need to retrieve the Bitlocker recovery key.
This key can be stored in several locations:
- Active Directory (AD)
- Azure Active Directory (AAD)
- Microsoft Bitlocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM)
Bitlocker is an effortless way of securing data on drives for home and enterprise use.
Are you using Bitlocker, and what challenges have you seen? Please leave a comment below!
Receive the latest updates from me and the community within Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Windows 10, and Powershell!