Encrypting USB Drives with BitLocker

With GDPR encrypting USB drives with BitLocker is an easy way to help to secure personal data.

Part of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation – more here https://technologytamed.com/gdpr/) is assessing the way you store customer data. Some businesses backup to removable USB drives which are then taken offsite. Or use removable USB drives to transport data. If personal data is stored in this way a GDPR recommendation is that the device is encrypted.  If you have Windows 10 Professional or Ultimate encrypting USB drives with BitLocker is relatively easy.The following gives you step by step instructions on how to use BitLocker. This is only available if you use Microsoft Windows 10 Professional or Ultimate – it is not available with Microsoft Windows 10 Home version or earlier versions of Windows.

I will take you through using VeraCrypt in the next Blog post. VeraCrypt is another respected encryption tool that is suitable for other versions of Microsoft Windows, Linux, Apple Mac, etc. You can also use VeraCrypt with Windows 10 Professional if you prefer – see review here https://lifehacker.com/windows-encryption-showdown-veracrypt-vs-bitlocker-1777855025

Encrypting with BitLocker

The actual encrypting of the drive can take a long time, so allow plenty of time.

  1. Connect your backup USB device
  2. Open File Explorer:
  3. Right click on your backup device and select Turn on BitLocker from the options available:
  4. Select to Use a password to unlock the drive and enter a password:
    Note that BitLocker requires the password to contain ALL of the following:
    a. Uppercase letters
    b. Lowercase letters
    c. Numbers
    d. Symbols
    e. Minimum length is 8 characters by default (note this may have been changed by the person who set up / administrates your computers)
  5. Click Next
  6. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you back up your recovery key. So click Save to file or Print the recovery key, and click Next
  7. Select Encrypt entire drive and click Next
  8. Select Compatible mode – as you are going to want to access this backup from other computers, and click Next
  9. Click Start encrypting and wait for the encryption to complete. It will take some time
  10. Then you will get a message saying Encryption is complete similar to that shown below:
  11. When you connect the USB device to a computer you will be told that you need to Unlock the drive, similar to the message shown below:
  12. Ignore any messages displayed that say Access is denied:
  13. Open File Explorer:
  14. Click on the USB device and you will see a box appear asking you to enter your password:
  15. Enter your password and click Unlock. You can then use this device in the normal way

Important Note: if you have a scheduled backup to your removable drives then ensure you unlock the drive before the backup runs.

Note that you can also use BitLocker to encrypt other Windows 10 Professional devices, such as computers and laptops. We provide IT support for schools and as the teacher’s laptops can contain sensitive information regarding pupils one school has opted to have a power on password, a BitLocker password and the user log on password. So, if a laptop was stolen, the thief would have to have all 3 passwords.

Rebecca Mansbridge
Technology Tamed Limited
March 2018