Microsoft introduced BitLocker in Windows Vista and it was one of the most important security features introduced with it. Since Laptop/Notebook theft is increasing day by day, Microsoft introduced this feature which helps you to encrypt the whole hard drive in your computer. So even if a computer or a notebook is being stolen from an organization, they don’t have to worry about their data or any compliance regulations as no one will be able to recover the encrypted data.
Now, the usage of USB drives has increased tremendously. Day by day the size of the USB drives shrinks whereas the capacity expands. The more capacity means you will be storing more data in it, and the smaller in size makes you to lose it more easily. As a data protection solution Microsoft has introduced a new feature called BitLocker To Go in Windows 7. BitLocker To Go helps you to encrypt your USB drives so even if you lose, it will only be the hardware and no one will be able to access your encrypted information. Windows 7 comes with both BitLocker and BitLocker To Go.
Let’s have a look at on how to encrypt your USB drives using BitLocker To Go in Windows 7
Basically, what happens when you enable BitLocker To Go on a USB drive is that it encrypts the drive and assign a password. So every time you plug in the drive you will be prompted to enter the password in order to access (read and write) the drive.
Once you encrypt your USB drive using BitLocker To Go you should be able to access the drive on computers running Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP provided that you enter the password correctly.
How do you do this?
- Plug in your USB drive and open My Computer (Picture 1)
- Right click on the USB Drive and select “Turn on BitLocker” (Picture 2)
- You will get the BitLocker initialization box (Picture 3)
- Once the initialization is done you will be asked to enter a password or you can use a smart card authentication (we will be using a password here) (Picture 4)
- You will be prompted to save the key or print the key (for recovery purposes, in case you lose or forget the password) (Picture 5)
- Save the key (we will be saving the key here) (Picture 6)
- After you confirm your password and click next you will be prompted to click start encryption (Picture 7)
- The encrypting process begins (Picture 8)
- And the completion (Picture 9)
- Once you click close on the completion window, your My Computer window should show a new icon for your USB Drive (Picture 10)
Now that your USB Drive is encrypted, Lets see on what happens when you plug this on to a Windows 7 machine
When you plug in a USB drive which has BitLocker To Go turned on, instead of the default autorun you will be prompted to enter the password to open the drive. (Picture 11)
When you plug in to a Windows Vista or a Windows 7, it will give you the autorun Window where you will have to choose and run the BitLocker To Go reader. Once you do then you will be able to enter the password and access your drive. (Picture 12, 13 & 14)
When you use the BitLocker reader to access the USB Drive either using Windows XP or Windows Vista you will ONLY be able to read data which is on the USB Drive and copy files and folders form the USB Drives to your computer. You WONT be able to write directly to a USB Drive protected by BitLocker To Go using XP or Vista. For this you will require a Windows 7 (to add and remover files).