How To: Encrypt your USB Flash drive with BitLocker to Go

Although USB memory sticks allow you to store any type of components you want and carry them anywhere, due to their huge storage capacity and tiny size. However, their small size could be a disadvantage, because there is a chance you might lose your USB stick somewhere. As a result, your personal data could be accessible to another person. If you want to avoid such a scenario, you should better use the BitLocker to Go feature, found in Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions. This feature will help you to encrypt your files and block any unauthorized access attempts. Furthermore, nobody can view your encrypted data without your recovery key, password or smart card.

Let’s see how you can use the BitLocker to Go for the safety of your memory stick’s files.

Encrypt your Flash Drive

  • First of all, plug in your flash drive and go to the Control Panel.
  • There select the System and Security section and click on BitLocker Drive Encryption.

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  • In the next screen you will view all installed drives, which support BitLocker encryption.

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  • In the bottom of the screen, where the BitLocker to Go column is, you will see your flash drive. Click on Turn on BitLocker, which is next to it.
  • Once BitLocker loads your drive, you will be asked to choose one unlocking option, when you try to access your encrypted flash drive. You can choose between a password or a smart card. In this tutorial we will focus on using a password.

NOTE: If you want to learn more about using smart cards, Microsoft provides you with great info here.

  • In order to use password, check the appropriate box and enter twice the password of your choice. Then, click Next.

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  • Now you will be asked to select a location, where you will store your recovery key. This step is very essential to the encryption process, because the recovery key will help you to decrypt your files and use your flash drive, in case you forget your password or smart card. The encrypted data will be lost if you don’t have it, when it is required. Therefore, save they key in your hard drive or write it down somewhere. It is recommended to use both methods, in order to avoid any annoying incidents.
  • Select the method that suits you and press Next.

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  • Now that you finished with the selection of your encryption’s option, the process will begin. Click Start Encrypting. Be aware that this might take a while.

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If your drive is quite big, you should expect that the encryption process may last for a few hours. In any other case, prepare to wait for several minutes.

Pause the Encryption Process

  • In case you need to unplug your drive from your PC during the encryption process, click the Pause button in the window, before the process is finished. As a result, you will prevent a possible corruption of your drive.

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  • Remove your drive, only if you get informed that the encryption is paused.

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Resume the Encryption process

  • To resume the encryption process, you should first plug your drive back in your computer. After this, a pop-up window will show up, asking you to enter the password to unlock your drive.
  • Enter the password and click on the Unlock button from the bottom of the window.

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NOTE: As you can notice from the image there are two available options about your password. The first one allows you to see your password, as you type it. The second option lets you unlock your drive automatically only on your PC. Check their boxes, if you think that they could be a bit helpful.

  • Once your password is verified, the encryption will resume. When the encryption ends, you will be informed from a small popup window.

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  • Complete the process by pressing the Close button.

Although the encryption of your flash drive may be time-consuming, the process is very simple thanks to the BitLocker to Go feature. From now on, you do not have to worry about unauthorized access on your data, in case you lose your memory stick. All you have to do is encrypt your drive and your files will be completely safe.