In this tutorial I will show you the easy process of encrypting a disk using BitLocker on Windows 10. BitLocker is a full disk encryption tool that was first introduced to Windows Vista and is designed to protect data within a drive using AES Encryption.

The benefit of using Bitlocker encryption means that the data within the selected drive is protected even when removed and installed on a new device. The only way to access the information within the drive is with a BitLocker encrytpion key that is provided on setup.

So lets get down to encrypting a drive. There are two ways of accessing Bitlocker. 1. By Right Clicking the drive you wish to encrypt 2. By accessing the Control Panel and then navigating to Bitlocker Drive Encryption. For the sake of this tutorial we will be using method 1.

To get started navigate to File Explorer then to This PC

Devices & Drives in the File Explorer

Right click the drive to which you want to encrypt, you will find the option “Turn on BitLocker” click that to get started.

Right Click Local Disk* and Turn on BitLocker

You will now be presented with the BitLocker Drive Encryption with three options as to how you want to back up the BitLocker Recovery Key. If you are logged into Windows 10 with your Microsoft Account you can instantly save the key to your account which can be accessed online.

Encryption Key storage options.

The second option allows you to Save to a file e.g. a Network Location or USB Key. You can not save it on the drive you are encrypting for obvious reasons. The third option will allow you to print the key.

For this tutorial I entered a USB key and opted to save the BitLocker encryption key to this location.

BitLocker Recovery Key Text File

Before saving the key to a location it is always a good idea to back it up or print it out in case you have misplaced it.

Saving the BitLocker Recovery Key to a USB Key

After saving the key the next step is to choose how much of the drive you wish to encrypt. You can choose from two options “Encrypt used disk space only (Faster)” or “Encrypt entire drive (Slower)”.

BitLocker Encryption Options.

For this tutorial I chose: Encrypt used disk space only (faster and best for new PCs and drives). Depending on the speed and type of drive the process should only take a few minutes. Most SSD’s encrypt in minutes.

The next option asks which encryption methid mode to use. New encryption mode is what we want to choose as the drive will be fixed and if removed it will be only used with Windows 10 1809 or above.

Compatible mode will allow you to use the drive for older versions of Windows.

BitLocker Encryption Mode

Before the final process you can run the BitLocker system check which will require a restart. It helps to run this as there is nothing worse than encrypting a drive and then it becomes inaccessible due to a read/recovery issue.

BitLocker System Check before Encryption

When you are ready to encrypt the drive press Start encrypting.

You will then see an Encryption status. Some never SSD drives will encrypt almost instantly so you will not see the above. And that concludes the encryption process.

If you are encrypting multiple drives it helps to use the BitLocker interface using the classic control panel (Search cpanel.exe in Search/Cortana).

BitLocker in Classic Control Panel

You can then see a list of encrypted drives where you can backup your recovery key and turn BitLocker on/off.

Managing Encrypted Drives in BitLocker