Windows 11 is terrible. And that is probably too kind. One of the more serious problems with Windows 11 is the foolish idea to encrypt everybody’s hard drive by default. This is a dumb dumb dumb idea. You almost certainly don’t have anything that you must keep secret. With you hard drive encrypted, if your computer goes bad, it can be very difficult to recover the files. But there is another serious flaw with drive encryption that can cause you to lose all your files. If the computer restarts while an encryption/decryption is in progress, it can make your files unrecoverable. Sadly, Windows Update is too dumb to know when an encryption/decryption is happening, so it will install updates and restart without your permission. This problem is almost certain to happen if one of the updates applies to the BIOS/UEFI.

There is a faster and safer way to decrypt your hard drive. These are the steps:

  1. Hold down the SHIFT key and click the restart button to enter the advanced startup console. Keep holding SHIFT until the computer restarts. Alternatively, go to Settings -> System -> Recovery.
  2. Click Troubleshoot then Advanced Options then Command Prompt.
  3. If you have a password, enter it. If there is no password, just press enter.
  4. At the command prompt, type this command:
    • manage-bde -off C: -force
  5. This will start the decryption process. It is much faster than if you did it inside of Windows. However, there will no information on the progress. You need to type this command to see how far along the process is:
    • manage-bde -status
  6. Once you are certain the process is done, you can quit the command prompt and boot into Windows.
  7. Once you are back in Windows, make sure you only use a local account!! It is none of Microsoft’s business what your email address is and what you do.
  8. Click Settings -> Accounts. Under Account Settings on the right, click “Sign in with a local account instead”.

Windows records the decryption recovery key in your Microsoft account. This means that if you computer dies, the only way to recover your files is if you gave Microsoft your personal information when using the computer. It is my personal belief that the only reason Windows 11 encrypts your files is to ensure that Microsoft has more ways to track you. With your personal information, Microsoft knows when and how you use your computer. And that information is very valuable to advertisers. The wisest thing to do is never give Microsoft your personal information to begin with and never encrypt your hard drive.