How To: Encrypt System Partitions with BitLocker in Windows 7 & 8

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The encryption support of Windows users is awesome, due to the BitLocker’s assistance. Although BitLocker was available only in Windows Vista and 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions, now it is more accessible, because you can use it in the affordable Windows 8 Pro edition. In this tutorial we will show you how the encryption works in a Windows PC, whether if it has a TPM chip or not. Let’s see how you can do this.

Open the BitLocker Drive Encryption Panel

You can easily access the BitLocker in both Windows 7 and 8 versions from the Control Panel.

  • In the Control Panel go to the System and Security section and click on BitLocker Drive Encryption.

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  • In the BitLocker panel you will view all your drives and the current status of the feature.

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  • On the other hand, the panel looks completely different in Windows 8. For example, it is so organized that the displaying drives are divided into categories, according their type.

Encrypt your System partition in Windows 8

  • To begin with the encryption process, click on the Turn on BitLocker button, which is right next to the drive you want to encrypt.
  • Once you do it, the BitLocker Drive Encryption wizard will be launched. Then, you will be asked to enter a password that you will have to type every time you boot your PC. If you don’t enter it, you will not be able to access the encrypted partition or boot into Windows 8. Therefore, you should never forget it!
  • When you finish typing the desired password, press Next in the bottom of the window.

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  • After this, you will be asked, whether if you want create a backup for you recovery key. This key will be used, in case you find it difficult to access the encrypted drive. Select the desired option and press Next.

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  • Next, you should determine the exact amount of your drive you want to encrypt. In case you own a new Windows 8 computer, the first option is the most suitable for you. If your PC is a bit older, you should consider encrypting your entire drive. Be aware that the second option will last longer. Choose the option that suits you and press Next.

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  • In the next window leave the Run BitLocker system box checked and click on the Continue button.

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  • The encryption will be completed, once you restart your PC. Therefore, reboot it and enter the password that you have chosen earlier to log into Windows 8.

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  • If you want to find out more about the progress of the encryption, go to the notification area of your desktop and click on the appropriate notification.

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  • Once you click on the notification, a progress window will show up, informing you about the encryption process.

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Your computer will function normally and you can do whatever you want, while the encryption process continues in the background.

NOTE: Even if you use a TPM chip or not, the encryption process will be the same in Windows 8. However, the TPM chip is necessary for the encryption in Windows 7. In case you don’t have it, the operating system will force you to use the USB memory stick, in which the BitLocker startup key is stored. If you don’t use the key, you will not be able to access the encrypted partition. 

Encrypt your System partition in Windows 7

In case you use a TPM chip, the encryption process will be similar to the one for Windows 8.

  • In the BitLocker Drive Encryption wizard, you will need to store a startup key, so that you use it every time you begin the process.

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  • This startup key can be saved in a USB memory stick. In the next window you will be able to select the specific memory device, in which you will store the key.

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  • Finally, you will be asked to save the recovery key. Unfortunately, you can’t save it in your Microsoft account in Windows 7. This option is only available in Windows 8. Despite this minor difference, all the other options are the same.

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Restart your PC and the encryption will begin. In Windows 7 you will not need to enter the BitLocker password or startup key. In this case you will have to plug in the USB stick, in which it is stored.

The encryption process might become a bit complex in Windows 7, in case you don’t use a TPM chip. Furthermore, every time you want to view your encrypted partition, you will have to plug in your USB stick, in which you have saved your startup key. This process is truly annoying. However, Microsoft has realized that and fixed this by removing this requirement completely. As a result, the BitLocker feature is now easier to use.