Use Windows Bitlocker to apply password protection and encryption to removable storage devices.
- [Instructor] I've been working on PCs for ages, and one of the most common questions I get asked is, "How can I apply a password to a file?" Forever the answer has been, "You can't." Individual file protection and data encryption is something that Windows just doesn't do. Another thing it doesn't do is print a list of files in a folder, but that's not this movie's topic. Password protection is available in Windows only for your account. Data encryption is also available, but only for an entire disc drive or storage media.
Once you encrypt the media, you can prevent anyone else from accessing it unless they have the password. It's not the sign in password, and it's not a password for a file, but for the entire storage media, an external or removable drive. The data encryption tool in Windows 10 is called BitLocker. You can apply this encryption to any media attached to your PC. As an example, I'm going to encrypt drive H on this computer, which is a thumb drive.
Press windows and the E key, Win + E, to open a File Explorer window. Then choose This PC from the navigation area. You can't encrypt drive C because it's the startup drive, and doing so requires a higher level of security, I'll explain how that works later in this movie. For now, I'm selecting drive H, which is a thumb drive. Click the Manage tab, choose BitLocker, Turn on BitLocker. The BitLocker utility examines the drive, and this takes a few moments.
Choose to apply a password to the drive. Type the password twice, as you're used to by now. Ensure that it's a nice cryptic password that no one can guess. The smart card option can also work if you have a smart card, and your PC features a smart card reader. Click the Next button. Microsoft recognizes that people lose passwords, so here you see three recovery options. I choose to print mine, though I also wrote down the password, which is something I suggest you do, regardless. By the way, what's saved and printed here is a recovery key, not the password itself.
On the hard copy, you'll see a 32-digit identifier, and a 42-digit recovery key. Save that sheet of paper in a secure location, and click Next. Choose the first encryption option for a new or empty storage device. Select the second if the media already contains data. My thumb drive is relatively empty, so I'll choose the first option. Click the Next button. You may see a prompt on your screen at this point that allows you to choose between compatible mode and new encryption mode.
If you plan on sharing the media with an older PC, one that doesn't run Windows 10, choose the compatible mode option, otherwise, and specially for newer internal hard drives, choose new encryption mode, and click the Next button. Then you can click the Start encryption button to begin the process. Depending on the size of the drive, and the amount of material stored, this process can take quite a while, and I'm talking hours. During the process you can pause and remove the drive, but don't otherwise remove the drive until the process has completed.
When the encryption is done, you'll see the message encryption is complete, click Close. From this point on, you can keep using the drive, but when it's connected again, you'll see the BitLocker icon appear in the This PC window, you cannot access the media unless you know the password. I'm going to eject this thumb drive, and now remove it from the computer. And now I'm going to reinsert the drive. When you reinsert the drive you'll see the BitLocker icon, the media is protected, double-click the drive, and type in the password to unlock.
Click Unlock. The drive is decrypted and its contents may be displayed, or you may see the auto playlist as shown here. And here is the encrypted drive. To apply BitLocker protection to drive C, you need to change a system policy. That is you must allow higher security when you first log in to Windows. This type of configuration requires advanced editing, which may not be compatible with all devices, which is why I'm not showing it here.
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