BitLocker To Go Encrypts Portable Flash Drives in Windows 7

December 5, 2009 Computer Tips and Tricks, by Lambert Butler

Initially, BitLocker was introduced in Windows Vista that would only encrypt the root operating system drive. With advancement in the technology, Windows Vista BitLocker functionality was extended for encrypting other drives or volumes also. In Windows 7, BitLocker has become BitLocker-To-Go, which has the ability to encrypt data on USB thumb drives and other removable storage devices.

Follow the given below steps for encrypting your flash drive using BitLocker-To-Go feature.

  • Open up My Computer’ and right-click on the Portable Flash drive you want to encrypt and select Turn on BitLocker.
  • After BitLocker initialized the flash drive, you are required to enter in a password to unlock the drive.  You can also set up a Smartcard which are usually used in a work environment.
  • Next, you need to store the recovery key which is used in case you lose your password or smartcard.  It is to be noted that if you store it as a file make sure that it is not on the same drive that you’re encrypting.

After the key has been saved as a file or printed, you will get a confirmation message.

  • Now you are ready to encrypt the drive so just click the Start Encrypting button. While it is encrypting there will be a progress screen displayed.
  • The USB flash drive is successfully encrypted now. The drive icon will change to show it’s encrypted with BitLocker where the gold lock indicates it is locked up.
  • Right-click on that icon to bring up options to manage BitLocker encryption.

So whenever you will plug in the USB drive next time to a Windows 7 machine you will be prompted to enter the password to gain access to the drive. For easy accessibility you can always have it unlocked on specific machines in the future. You can also use the encrypted drive in Vista and XP. Basically, BitLocker-To-Go Reader is a Windows Explorer type navigation utility for showing the content of the drive.

In Windows XP and Vista, with a BitLocker encrypted drive you will only be able to read and copy files.  If you need to add files or change them you will need to use a Windows 7 machine. This is a great way to easily make sure sensitive data on your USB flash drive is safe.  So all Windows 7 users, start utilizing this innovative BitLocker-To-Go feature.