Protect your PC

Windows 8, Windows RT

BitLocker
          Drive Encryption in Control Panel

Lock up your data using BitLocker Drive Encryption

You can encrypt—or "scramble"—data on your PC using BitLocker Drive Encryption to help keep it secure. Only someone with the right encryption key (like a password or PIN) can unscramble and read it. BitLocker can encrypt an entire drive on your PC, and helps block hackers from stealing your password. If your PC itself is lost or stolen, BitLocker also helps keep other people from accessing your data by physically installing your locked drive in a different PC.

Note

Get ready for BitLocker

When you're planning to use BitLocker, there are several things you need to think about:

  • What kind of drive you want to lock. You can turn on BitLocker for your operating system drive (the drive where Windows is installed), a fixed data drive (such as an internal hard drive), or a removable data drive (such as a USB flash drive).

  • How you want to unlock the drive. Depending on what kind of drive you choose to lock, you might be asked to:

    • Create a password or PIN you must enter to unlock the drive.

    • Associate a security card with the drive, so that only someone with that card and PIN can unlock it.

    • Save a copy of the encryption key to a USB flash drive, so that only someone who inserts the flash drive can unlock it.

    For more info about the different unlock options, see Unlock a BitLocker-protected drive.

  • How you want to store your recovery key. If you forget your BitLocker password, or if something happens to your PC that prevents it from accessing the encrypted drive, you can still use a recovery key (a string of 48 random numbers) to get back into the drive. There are different places to store the recovery key for each kind of drive, but make sure you back up a copy for safekeeping (even if you print it).

    Warning

    • It's essential that you store your recovery key in a safe place, separate from your PC. If you lose it, you might permanently lose access to your files.

Turn on BitLocker

BitLocker might sound intimidating, but it's not as complicated as it looks. When you've decided which kind of drive you want to lock, the BitLocker Drive Encryption wizard will lead you through the rest of the decision-making process.

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Lock the operating system drive

Here's how to lock the drive that Windows is installed on:

  1. Use the Search charm to find and open BitLocker Drive Encryption.

  2. Under Operating system drive, expand the drive info and then tap or click Turn on BitLocker. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

    The BitLocker Drive Encryption wizard might take a moment to prepare your PC. Follow the instructions until the Choose how to unlock your drive at startup screen appears.

  3. Choose how you want to unlock the drive, and then follow the instructions until the How do you want to back up your recovery key? screen appears.

  4. Choose how you want to back up your recovery key, and then tap or click Next.

    You might want to print a copy of your recovery key for safekeeping.

  5. Choose how much of your drive to encrypt, and then tap or click Next.

  6. Do one of the following:

    • To begin encrypting the drive immediately, tap or click Start encrypting.

    • To make sure your PC can read both your encryption key and your recovery key, select the Run BitLocker system check check box, and then tap or click Continue.

      Running the system check is one more way to make sure that BitLocker works smoothly for you, but it can take longer, and it requires your PC to restart. If you decide to run the system check, make sure you've saved your work before restarting. When your PC restarts, it will prompt you to unlock your operating system drive with the method you just chose.

Lock a fixed data drive

Here's how to lock a data drive that's inside your PC:

  1. Use the Search charm to find and open BitLocker Drive Encryption.

  2. Under Fixed data drives, expand the drive info for the drive you want to lock, and then tap or click Turn on BitLocker. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  3. Choose how you want to unlock the drive, and then tap or click Next.

    You might be able to select more than one unlock method.

  4. Choose how you want to back up your recovery key, and then tap or click Next.

    You might want to print a copy of your recovery key for safekeeping.

  5. Choose how much of your drive to encrypt, and then tap or click Next.

  6. Tap or click Start encrypting.

Lock a removable data drive

Here's how to lock a drive that you can plug into a USB port on your PC:

  1. Insert the drive you want to lock into a USB port on your PC.

  2. Use the Search charm to find and open BitLocker Drive Encryption.

  3. Under Removable data drives - BitLocker To Go, expand the drive info for the drive you want to lock, and then tap or click Turn on BitLocker.

  4. Choose how you want to unlock the drive, and then tap or click Next.

    You might be able to select more than one unlock method.

  5. Choose how you want to back up your recovery key, and then tap or click Next.

    You might want to print a copy of your recovery key for safekeeping.

  6. Choose how much of your drive to encrypt, and then tap or click Next.

  7. Tap or click Start encrypting.

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