What's the difference between suspending BitLocker Drive Encryption and decrypting the drive?

BitLocker can be turned off in two ways: by suspending BitLocker or by decrypting the drive. When you suspend BitLocker, your drive is still encrypted but your computer uses a plain text decryption key that is stored on the drive to read the information. When you decrypt the drive, everything on your drive is decrypted.

Suspending BitLocker Drive Encryption is a temporary method for removing BitLocker protection without decrypting the drive Windows is installed on (the operating system drive). Suspend BitLocker if you need to update the computer’s basic input/output system (BIOS) or startup files; this will help prevent BitLocker from locking the drive and can help avoid a lengthy decryption process. When the update is complete and you have restarted the computer, you can click Resume Protection.

You can only suspend BitLocker on operating system drives. If you want to turn off Bitlocker on a fixed data drive (such as an internal hard drive) or a removable data drive (such as an external hard drive or a USB flash drive), you must decrypt the drive.

Decrypting an operating system drive means that BitLocker protection is removed from the computer, which can be time-consuming.

To temporarily suspend BitLocker or decrypt the drive

  1. Open Bitlocker Drive Encryption by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Security, and then clicking Bitlocker Drive Encryption.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To temporarily suspend BitLocker, click Suspend Protection, and then click Yes.

    • To turn off BitLocker and decrypt the drive, click Turn Off BitLocker, and then click Decrypt Drive.

Note

  • If your computer is part of a domain, some BitLocker features and settings might be controlled by your system administrator.