How to configure BitLocker in Windows 7 to protect with encryption your files and folders [Bonus]

Ever worry that your files and folders may get in the wrong hands by theft or hackers? One handy feature that can help is the BitLocker Drive Encryption feature in Windows 7. BitLocker is a feature that can be found in Ultimate and Enterprise edition of Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating system, and is able to use a password to encrypt an entire storage drive and protect those irreplaceable files and folders.

With BitLocker you can encrypt the entire drive where Windows is installed (internal drive) or other storage drive where your data resides. This feature has also been improved for Windows 7 with the introduction of BitLocker To Go, which will give you the additional option to protect with encryption all your hard work that may have stored in, the so easy to lose, portable storage devices such as external hard drives or USB flash drives.

It is so easy and practical, once BitLocker is configured and activated in the storage device of your choice, any file or folder that you create and save will automatically be encrypted, protected, and no one else can access them.

How to configure BitLocker

In this tutorial I am going to demonstrate how to configure BitLocker To Go, but it should be the same for BitLocker – Hard Drives.

1.  Go to Start , type BitLocker Drive Encryption and press Enter,or go to Control Panel and click the BitLocker Drive Encryption link.

2.  Now, in the BitLocker window will be listed all the storage devices where you can use this encryption feature. If you want to protect an external storage device that is not connected to the computer, you can connect it now and it will show up immediately after Windows 7 recognizes it.

3.  Next, choose the drive and click the Turn On BitLocker on the right.

Windows BitLocker - List of storage devices

4.  Choose how you want to unlock the storage device you have selected. The easiest way is to use a password protection, unless you work in a job where smart card are being used and you can add that type of mechanism as well. After you have chosen the method, click the Next button.

Windows BitLocker - Unlock options

5.  Additionally, if you forget the password or lose your smart card, BitLocker Drive Encryption feature offers you the ability to save to a file or print a hard copy of the recovery key (password) for the storage device in question. Select one of the two options and then click the Next button.

Note that you have to select one of the two options in order to go to the next step.

Windows BitLocker - Save or Print encryption key

6.  Next, click the button Start Encrypting and wait until the process is finished. It is very important that you do not remove the hard drive or USB flash drive while encryption is in progress as this could damage the data inside, but you can click the Pause button to remove the drive if you have to, then you can just simply connect it again and click the Resume button.

Windows BitLocker - Pause

Windows BitLocker - Resume

Remember that the time that BitLocker takes to encrypt a drive will depend on the speed of the drive and how large it is. So it could take a while to finish the process…

Windows BitLocker - Encryption complete

Bonus – More encryption options

Now that your storage device is protected with BitLocker, there are additional options that you are able to configure, simply go to Computer, right-click the encrypted drive and select the option Manage BitLocker…

Windows BitLocker - Manage BitLocker option

In the Manage BitLocker window will be listed the following options:

  • Change and remove password from the drive.
  • Add smart card to unlock the drive.
  • Save or print recovery key one more time.
  • Automatically unlock this drive on this computer. ( A really practical option, because without the need to remember passwords for any storage devices you have encrypted, still protects and restricts access to the storage drive.).

Windows BitLocker - More options

I hope this tutorial has been helpful for you. Please let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below!

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].