Hdd locked and unable to re install win8

a friend dropped off a dell 3521 for me to install windows8.1 on.

for some reason windows8 has disappeared and the Hdd is locked of so i cant
install 8.1 on any partition.
i took the Hdd drive out to get access to it and i cant even do that,its protected.

i put windows8 on a usb stick and all i get from that is the tool kit to perform checks
but still unable to install win8 or even locate the recovery image.

here is a photo of the partitions

here is a photo of what i have to use

on the above is a option to wipe the disk,should i use it?
all i want is to get windows 8 back on there now or windows7


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
The photo of the partitions does not show Partition 1, which would be the EFI System partitions and used to boot. Is it actually there, or did someone remove it.?

Was the system set up using Bitlocker, or some other security device?

I would put the drive back into the original system and use recovery media or a third party partition manager to check the partitions. What you will need to do will depend on what you can currently do, which might depend on your original answer.

Have you used the Dell troubleshooting utility which should be available from the key combination during boot?

partition 1 is still there although not in the picture
i have used the dell troubleshooting utility and it says everything is fine.
i watched it go through all the checks and tick the boxes.
then i re boot and blue screen telling me i have an issue and the pc needs to be fixed lol
quoting code '0xc000000f'

i am unawre if the system was set up with bitlocker or any similar device but the
way things are happening yes would be the answer

also i dont think i can use a partition checking tool as i have no OS,no safe mode.

Last edited:


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Do you have the 8.1 Retail media with a license?

You can get into a command prompt by using Shift+F10 during an install on one of the first two screens.

The error code seems to go along with the drive locked message in that it means the system cannot find a valid drive.

If the Dell utility says the drive is fine, then it must be something about Windows keeping it from working. I have seen some messages suggesting turning off any Fast Start or Fast Boot type operation.

Otherwise I have no guess as to why the drive is showing as locked. Removing all the current partitions may allow you to install 8.1, if you have the license. The owner should know if the system was using Bitlocker. In order to install 8.1, you may need to clean the drive or at least remove the prior partitions. Of course you would probably need the 8.1 license. But if you remove the partitions during the install, it may still be considered just an update.

Maybe someone else will have better info.

i do have the facility of using cmd prompt.(which i am hoping is the answer)

the owner of the laptop is elderly and does not know if bitlocker was installed

i was going to use the disk wipe on the recovery toolset
but wasnt sure if to or not.

ripped out hd and stuck another in there
dropped another OS on it and laptop working fine

going to be looking at accessing the old hd now but got a hammer handy
just in case!!!!

thanks for info and advice


Windows Forum Team
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Sorry to but in but that hdd is full of recovery drives and they are automatically locked to prevent accidental deleting… this is by design but you can use a command prompt to unlock and delete / format a recovery drive back to any standard format i.e. unallocated space in this particular case.

It’s a bit hard for me to explain so here is a youtube.



Essential Member
Premium Supporter
I would advise strongly against altering anything on the HD, until you have explored the possibilities of looking at the OS again.
If it helps:
Partition 2 would be the a Fat32 partition, installed by Dell. It contains the utilities which to run the dell Diagnostic facility.
Partition 3 Is the normal (of latter days!) Boot partition, installed automatically, at the same time as the OS.
Patition 4 is the Intel hardware recovery. This is something nearly always put in by dell. Its purpose is to make sure your hardware is kept up to date. It is a waste of space and is linked to software on the OS, concerning Intel management.
Partition 5 is a spare data partition, with or without data. depending on the previous users preference, it could contain a complete OS
Partition 6 is the Microsoft backup partiton.
Have you tried altering the bios settings in the boot section, and selecting Legacy mode, instead of UEFI? At the same time experiment with secure boot off - you can always reinstate it later.

Entering the bios, varies from one dell to another. Normally I thrask both F11 and F12 immediately on start up, and wait for the option menu. Another choice may be to wait for the Dell logo an then hit F2,

Whilst in the bios. Make sure that the first boot order is, indeed the correct HD or path.

Bi locker would only be on the pro release. An OEM is normally the basic OS, but, in the case of Dell, can be a pro, according to the cost of the machine or customer request. You could check this, possibly, by running WinVer from the command prompt. I have never tried it from an initial boot, but it may be possible.

This website is not affiliated, owned, or endorsed by Microsoft Corporation. It is a member of the Microsoft Partner Program.