Friday, February 19, 2010

How to use BitLocker in Windows 7 to encrypt and set password to a USB Flash Drive

Definitely, you may know the importance of Encrypting USB Flash Drives. It protects the Data stored on the Volume. If you’ve any USB Flash Drives and they are formatted using FAT, FAT32 or NTFS, they can be encrypted with BitLocker. If you ask us about process time, we can say it depends upon the size of the Drive, Processing Power of the Computer and the level of activity on the Computer.

Before you’re going to enable the BitLocker, you should configure the appropriate Removable Data Drive policies and settings in Group Policy and then you’ve to wait for Group Policy to get refreshed. If you fail to do this process, you have to turn OFF the BitLocker and then turn ON as certain state and management flags are set when you turn ON BitLocker.

In order to ensure that you can recover an encrypted Volume, it is required to allow data-recovery agents and store recovery information in Active Directory. The “The Allow Access To BitLocker-Protected Removable Data Drives From Earlier Versions of Windows Policy” is able to ensure that you have the rights to access the USB Flash Drive on other Operating System and Computers, if you’re using a Flash Drive with earlier version of Windows.

How to enable BitLocker encryption on a USB flash drive

• First, you’ve to insert the USB Flash Drive in the Computer.
• Then, click on Start and then choose Computer.
• Then, right click on the USB Flash Drive and then choose Turn On BitLocker.
• Now, BitLocker will initialize the Drive.
• You’ve to choose one or more for the following options on the Choose How You Want To Unlock This Drive page and then click on Next.
1. Use A Password To Unlock This Drive : This option is used, if you want the user to be prompted for the determined password whenever he opens the Drive. At the same time, entering the Password can unlock from any location and share with other people.
2. Use My Smart Card To Unlock The Drive : This option is used, if you want the user to use a Smart Card and enter the Smart Card PIN in order to unlock the Drive. Therefore, if you want to unlock the Drive, it is required to have a Smart Card Reader. This feature is usually used for unlocking a Drive in the Workplace. However, it is not possible for the Drives that are used outside the Workplace.
• After that, you’ve to click Save The Recovery Key To A File, on the How Do You Want To Store Your Recovery Key Page.
• Thereafter, you can choose a Save Location and then click on Save, on the Save BitLocker Recovery Key As dialog box.
• After choosing the option, if you want to print, you can print the Recovery key.
• If you have finished, you can click Next.
• Then, you should click on Start Encrypting from the “Are you ready to encrypt this drive” page.
• Until the encryption process in complete, don’t remove the USB Flash Drive. The encryption process takes time depends upon the size of the Drive and other factors.

Following are the processes done by Encryption process.
1. It is able to add an Autorun.inf file, the BitLocker To Go Reader and a Read Me.txt file for the USB Flash Drive.
2. The process creates a Virtual Volume including full contents of the Drive in the remaining drive space.
3. This process encrypts Virtual volume in order to protect it. Moreover, USB Flash Drive encryption takes approximately 6 – 10 minutes per gigabyte to complete.
4. At the same time, if you want to pause or resume the encryption process you can do it.

If you enable the Autoplay and you insert the encrypted drive into a USB Slot on the Computer running Windows 7, then Windows 7 will run the BitLocker To Go Reader, which in turn displays a dialog box. You have to enter the password or Smart Card PIN or both when you’re prompted. Moreover, you can also select Automatically Unlock On This Computer From Now On option to save the password in an encrypted file on the Computer’s system volume. After doing all of these, click on Unlock in order to unlock the Volume and to use the Drive.

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