Issues enabling Bitlocker on the disks attached to USB 3.0 port(s)

Applies to: Windows 7 EnterpriseWindows 7 ProfessionalWindows 7 Ultimate More

Symptoms


Consider the following scenario:
  • You have a machine running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with USB 3.0 port(s)
  • You have attached USB drive(s) to USB 3.0 port(s) and are accessible within Windows
  • When you try to enable BitLocker on above mentioned USB drives, you are unable to list the attached USB disks in BitLocker Drive Encryption under Control Panel or using BitLocker To Go.
  • If you try to enable BitLocker using command line, you may receive following error message:

    C:\>manage-bde -status <Drive_letter of the USB drive>:
    BitLocker Drive Encryption: Configuration Tool version 6.1.7601
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    ERROR: The volume <Drive_letter of the USB drive>: could not be opened by BitLocker. This may be because the volume does not exist, or because it is not a valid BitLocker volume.

Cause


This behavior is by design. USB 3.0 port is not supported on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Workaround


Avoid using the ports that are labeled SS for SuperSpeed. Those are the USB 3 ports. This issue does not occur on USB 1.1 or 2.0 ports. Alternatively, you may check if your manufacturer has updated drivers that have been designed to be compatible with BitLocker.