Should you be worried about the fact that your USB flash drive might get stolen or lost and your sensitive data compromised? Well, the answer is no – not absolutely necessary. Why?
Because Windows 7 (Ultimate and Enterprise) has a feature called BitLocker Drive Encryption and thanks to this you’re able to use a password to encrypt an entire storage drive and protect those irreplaceable files and folders of yours.
Let’s get it started…
1. Insert the USB flash drive, click Start, and then click Computer.
2. Right-click the USB flash drive, and then click Turn On BitLocker. BitLocker initializes the drive.
3. On the Choose How You Want To Unlock This Drive page, choose one or more for the following options, and then click Next:
- Use A Password To Unlock This Drive Select this option if you want the user to be prompted for a password to unlock the drive. Passwords allow a drive to be unlocked in any location and to be shared with other people.
- Use My Smart Card To Unlock The Drive Select this option if you want the user to use a smart card and enter the smart card PIN to unlock the drive. Because this feature requires a smart card reader, it is normally used to unlock a drive in the workplace and not for drives that might be used outside the workplace.
4. On the How Do You Want To Store Your Recovery Key page, click Save The Recovery Key To A File.
5. In the Save BitLocker Recovery Key As dialog box, choose a save location, and then click Save.
6. You can now print the recovery key if you want to. When you have finished, click Next.
7. On the Are You Ready To Encrypt This Drive page, click Start Encrypting. Do not remove the USB flash drive until the encryption process is complete. How long the encryption process takes depends on the size of the drive and other factors.
The encryption process does the following…
1. Adds an Autorun.inf file, the BitLocker To Go reader, and a Read Me.txt file to the USB flash drive.
2. Creates a virtual volume with the full contents of the drive in the remaining drive space.
3. Encrypts the virtual volume to protect it.USB flash drive encryption takes approximately 6 to 10 minutes per gigabyte to complete. The encryption process can be paused and resumed provided that you don’t remove the drive.
As a result, when AutoPlay is enabled and you insert the encrypted drive into a USB slot on a computer running Windows 7, Windows 7 runs the BitLocker To Go reader, which in turn displays a dialog box. When you are prompted, enter the password, smart card PIN, or both to unlock the drive. Optionally, select Automatically Unlock On This Computer From Now On to save the password in an encrypted file on the computer’s system volume. Finally, click Unlock to unlock the volume so that you can use it.
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