One of the advantages of Windows 7 and now Windows 8, is the ability to encrypt whole drives using BitLocker or BitLocker To Go. First of all, what is BitLocker?
- BitLocker provides disk drive encryption. When enabled BitLocker encrypts the entire disk. When adding new files to the disk those are immediately encrypted as well
- BitLocker can do this to both system and non-system drives
- BitLocker protects vital Windows system files during boot-up.
- BitLocker works with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security hardware, which is provided in some modern PCs
- When copying or moving files off of a BitLocker protected drive they are automatically decrypted
Alas, none of my PCs have a TPM, so one might think that this is a no-go option.
But, no – you can actually enable BitLocker on Windows 8, even on PCs without a TPM
In order to do this follow these few steps;
- Make sure you are logged on as an administrator
- Hit the Windows key and type gpedit.msc
- Hit enter and the Local Group Policy Editor comes up;
- Expand Computer Configuration – Administrative Templates – All settings
- Scroll down to “Require additional authentication at startup”
- Double-click it and enable it and select “Allow BitLocker without a compatible TPM (requires a password or a startup key on a USB flash drive)”
- Hit Apply and Enter and close the Group Policy Editor
Then it is time to actually encrypt your disk of choice:
- Hit the Windows key again and type BitLocker – select Settings in order to find BitLocker Drive Encryption
- After selecting it the BitLocker Drive Encryption control panel opens
- Select Turn on BitLocker on the drive you want to encrypt
- BitLocker then checks your PC’s configuration
- This might take a few minutes, but after it is finished you will be given this information
- BitLocker then informs you that a new (hidden) system drive will be created from free space on the hard drive, as well as cautioning you to make a back.up
- The process of preparing your drive for BitLocker then starts;
- In order to finish preparing the drive for BitLocker, Windows needs to restart
- After rebooting and getting back to the desktop, BitLocker Drive Encryption is now ready to encrypt your drive
- After hitting next you will have to decide how you will unlock your drive at startup. You can do this by either inserting a USB key or by entering a password. For my desktop PC I chose to use a password, whereas I chose by USB-key on my laptop.
- I entered my chosen password and hit Next – NB! Note to my non-english speaking readers: do not use any non-english spesific letters (ie Æ, Ø or Å)
- BitLocker then asks how you want to be able to back-up your recovery key. This is a key that enables you to access your files and folders if you are having trouble unlocking your PC. It is advised to have more than one copy of this one.
- I chose both to save the key to my Microsoft account, as well as to a USB flash drive
- After hitting Next, I was asked whether I wanted to encrypt the entire drive or only the part of it that is already in use.
- You are then asked whether you are ready to encrypt the drive. You can also select whether to run BitLocker system check after the drive has been encrypted
- You are then given a notification area pop-up instructing you to restart the computer in order to encrypt the drive
- When the PC restarts you are prompted for your password before your system boots. Once you are logged in the encryption process begins. Depending on the size of your disk this might take a while. You are still able to work on your machine while this is going on, although it may work a little slower.
After this process finishes, your selected drive is encrypted and your files and folders are more secure in case of theft than they were before. Maybe not as safe as if you had a TPM in your PC, but still.
Any comments or questions?