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BitLocker to Go: Encryption for personal USB

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Encryption is an effective method of protecting data stored on portable USB devices such as flash drives and external hard drives.
Encryption encodes data so that it can only be read by someone who has the right encryption key (password) to decode it. This means that if your device is lost or stolen, the information contained on it cannot be accessed by unauthorised users.
BitLocker to Go is a feature of Windows 10 (Pro and Enterprise) that allows you to easily encrypt your personal devices and prevent unauthorized access1. Without the encryption key, the device is inaccessible.
When you connect your BitLocker encrypted USB device to a Windows PC you will be prompted for your password. After entering the password correctly, you can read and write to your device as normal.

 

Using BitLocker on Windows 10

Encrypting a USB Flash drive

  • Insert the USB drive you want to encrypt – this can be a new drive, or one that already has data stored on
  • Open File Explorer, right-click on the USB drive then select Turn on BitLocker… from the pop-up
  • The BitLocker wizard launches and BitLocker prepares the USB drive for encryption.

 

  • After BitLocker has prepared the USB drive, the wizard prompts you to Choose how you want to unlock the drive.

  • Tick the Use a password to unlock the drive checkbox and type in and retype a password, then click Next.

1 It is not possible to encrypt drives using BitLocker on Windows 10 Home edition. You can however unlock and use previously encrypted drives with full read/write access.

    • The wizard prompts you to back up your recovery key to use in the event that you forget your password.

    • Click Save to a file. In the Save BitLocker Recovery Key as dialog, browse to a suitable location on your H: drive then click Save.
    • Click Next.
    • The wizard asks how much of the drive you want to encrypt. You can choose to encrypt the used space only (best for a new drive) or the entire drive (best for a drive already in use).
    • Click Next.
    • As you are encrypting a USB drive leave the encryption mode set at compatible mode which is for drives which can be moved.
    • Click Next.
    • The wizard asks if you are ready to encrypt the
    • Click Start Encrypting to begin the encryption
    • A status bar indicates progress while the USB drive is encrypting. Encryption can take several minutes if your drive contains a lot of data. For example, 2.5GB of data could take up to 10
    • When encryption is complete you’ll see this notification:
    • Click Close to close the
    • When you open File Explorer or This PC, you’ll notice that the USB drive icon has changed. The padlock indicates that the drive is now encrypted with
    • The padlock icon is coloured grey – this means that the drive is unlocked.
      • Double-click the BitLocker Recovery Key file to open it in NotePad. Copy the Recovery Key code then return to the BitLocker wizard.
        • Double-click the BitLocker Recovery Key file to open it in NotePad. Copy the Recovery Key code then return to the BitLocker wizard.
        • Paste the text you copied into the text box and clickPaste the text you copied into the text box and clickThe next time you right-click on this drive in File Explorer or This PC you will see either Manage BitLocker or BitLocker Encryption Options in the pop-up (You may see both!)

          Both offer similar encryption options.

Using your encrypted flash drive in Windows 10

  • The next time you insert your USB drive into a Windows PC you will notice that the padlock icon is coloured gold – this indicates that the drive is locked.
  • When you try to open the drive, BitLocker will prompt you to enter the password you created when you encrypted the drive in order to unlock

  • If you want, you can select to Automatically unlock on this PC from now on. To find this in Windows 10 click More options.

Forgotten your password?

If you forget the password for your encrypted USB drive, you can use the BitLocker recovery key (which you saved to your H: drive when you set up encryption) to unlock the drive and create a new password.

      • Insert your USB drive into a Windows PC
      • In the BitLocker wizard in Windows 10, click More options and then Enter recovery key.
      • Using File Explorer or This PC , browse to the location on your H: drive where you saved the recovery key.
      • Double-click the BitLocker Recovery Key file to open it in NotePad. Copy the Recovery Key code then return to the BitLocker wizard.
      • Paste the text you copied into the text box and click
      • You will now have access to your
      • You will most likely want to reset the password to make accessing your drive easier in future. To do this right-click on the drive to bring up either Manage Bitlocker or Bitlocker Encryption Options2.
        • From Manage Bitlocker choose Change password
        • From Bitlocker Encryption Options choose Manage your Password
      • In both cases you will be prompted to enter a new password and then retype it to
      • Click Reset Password

  • You will see a confirmation message when the password has been changed
  • Next time you use your drive you will be able to unlock it with the new password.

Forgotten your password and lost your recovery key?

If you have forgotten your password and lost your recovery key but would like to reuse your flash drive, you can reformat it as below.

Note: This action will erase all data from the drive!

  • Insert your flash In This PC or File Explorer, right-click on the flash drive icon and select

Format from the pop-up menu.

2 If these options do not appear on your PC take your USB drive to the IT Service Desk for help changing the password.

  • In the Format dialog, the File system should be the default setting FAT.
  • Click Start to format the

Remember, this action will erase all data from the drive.

  • A warning will appear advising you that formatting will erase all Click OK to continue.

  • You will be prompted when formatting is Click OK.

 

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