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By far one of the best methods for securing a data drive is to encrypt it. With encryption you render the drive inaccessible without some type of access, a password or a smart card, for example. Well, in this lesson, we are going to talk about BitLocker Drive Encryption that's built into Windows 7 for encrypting data drives and with BitLocker To Go, now in Windows 7, you can also apply encryption to portable devices like a USB drive, for example. On my screen here you can see the BitLocker Drive Encryption window has popped up because I've taken a USB device that has BitLocker Drive Encryption already built into it and I plugged it into my computer.
This shows up automatically. This is the window that I would use to unlock my particular device. Notice that, in this case, I would use a password. Type the password to unlock the drive. Then we'll have access to the encrypted drive. It stays encrypted meaning if I unplug it and take it to another computer, I'd have to do the exact same thing to unlock it. And then decrypting is a whole other story that we'll talk about in a moment. For now, I am going to just take you to the Control Panel. We'll click the Start button or Windows orb, then Control Panel and under System and Security, you'll find BitLocker Drive Encryption.
We'll select that and here you'll see a list of the drives on your computer and you'll see the status whereas to whether BitLocker Drive Encryption is turned on or off. Now you'll see that I do have a drive down below that has BitLocker turned-on and that's why we see the gold padlock. Not only it is encrypted, but it's currently locked. I can't access it. To unlock the drive, I could go back to that window that appeared at the moment I plugged it in or I can access it from here. When you click Unlock Drive, you'll see the exact same window.
So now to access the contents, all I have to do is type in the password I used when I encrypted it. I have some other options as well. I can show the password characters as I type them because it's important you remember your password and enter correctly here so if want to see what you're typing, click this checkbox. I don't mind hiding it in case someone's looking over my shoulder, and I can also choose to automatically unlock this particular device every time I use it on this computer from now on. Meaning I won't need the password to access the files.
It'll still be an encrypted drive, meaning if I take it to another computer, I'll see the screen where I'll need to enter the password to unlock it. So I am going to choose that. When I click Unlock, it just takes a moment but you're going to see something happen in the background. That gold lock just turns to silver. It's currently unlocked meaning I can access it and that's why this little window pops up. All of a sudden it's as if I just plugged the device in. I can scan the device or continue without scanning and then from AutoPlay, choose to open up the device to view the files, pictures, etc.
But I am going to close that up. You'll notice I have another device plugged-in here. My device is labeled F:. If you've got a USB drive that you want to experiment with, go ahead and plug it in. By default, BitLocker is not turned on. So to turn on BitLocker, we actually go to the right-hand side, select that and depending on the size of the drive, it could take quite a while. Now I've got a fairly large USB drive that I've plugged in here. You can see it's busy initializing the drive and then you're going to see a progress bar telling you how much has actually been encrypted and it will take quite some time for larger drives to be encrypted.
You might want to run this overnight, for example, and in the morning you'll have your encrypted drive. Then you can choose how it is you want to access the drive, whether it be with password or a smart card, for example. So I am going to left run in the background and then I am going to click my Control Panel to move back. You can see it's still currently turned off. During that progress while it's initializing an encrypting, it does take a lot of time for large drive, so you can pause if you need to access the files and then resume.
So you're not rendering the drive totally useless. Okay. So here's the window that does pop-up once it's been initialized. How do you want to unlock the drive? Well, you can use a password or if you've got smart card technology built-in to your computer, you can use that. So you'd use a smart card and a pin to unlock the drive. I don't have that built-in so I am going to use a password and I am going to enter the password here twice. Now we can't see what we are typing here, so you need to retype it to ensure you've typed it correctly both times. When you click Next, it's going to take that.
Now the recovery key is where your password is stored. You can save it to a file or you can print it out or you can do both. You can save it and then later print it out if you wanted to. So I am going to save the recovery key to a file. When I select this, I need to choose where. I am just going to put it on my Desktop. You can see the name is quite extensive here, and when I click Save, I can go back and print again if I want to have a printed copy as well. You really need to make sure you don't lose this password because without it you can't access your drive once it's encrypted.
So I am going to click Next and then it asks me if I'm ready to encrypt this drive. I'll be able to unlock it with the password later on. It might take a while depending on the size, I know, for a fact, that this particular USB drive is quite large and it's going to take several hours. And until encryption is complete, your files will not be protected so keep that in mind. When you click Start Encrypting, there is the progress bar I was talking about. It's going to show up and in a moment, you'll see that you have the ability to pause this by clicking the Pause button to access the files.
So although this may take hours, I can actually get in there until it's fully encrypted and access the files by using pause. You don't want to unplug the device while it's encrypting. That can damage files and you may lose some of your data. So always use pause before you remove the drive or access the files. So I just sit here, letting this run. When I go back to Control Panel, you can see it's busy encrypting. So I see the status right here from Control Panel and at any time, I can turn-off BitLocker. This is not unlocking.
When you choose turn-off BitLocker you decrypt the drive, meaning it's no longer encrypted and you can take it to any computer. You won't be prompted for a password. So with BitLocker and BitLocker To Go, you can ensure the security of your data drives and even your portable drives like a USB drive.
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