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A beginner's guide to BitLocker, Windows' built-in encryption tool

Ian Paul | June 2, 2014
The creators of TrueCrypt shocked the computer security world this week when they seemingly ended development of the popular open source encryption tool. Even more surprising, the creators said TrueCrypt could be insecure and that Windows users should migrate to Microsoft's BitLocker. Conspiracy theories immediately began to swirl around the surprise announcement.

Once you've created two different instances of the recovery key and removed any USB drives, click Next.

On the following screen, you have to decide whether to encrypt only the disk space used so for or encrypt your PC's entire drive. If you are encrypting a brand new PC without any files then the option to encrypt only the used disk space is best for you since new files will be encrypted as they're added. If you have an old PC with a few more miles on the hard drive you should choose to encrypt the entire drive.

Once you've chosen your encryption scheme click Next. We're almost there.

Make sure the box next to "Run BitLocker system check" is clicked so that Windows will run a system check before encrypting your drive. Once the box is checked click Continue...and nothing happens.

You'll see an alert balloon in the system tray telling you that encryption will begin after you restart the PC. Restart your PC.

When you log in this final time you should see another system tray alert telling you that the encryption is in progress.

You can continue to work on your PC during the encryption phase, but things may be working a little more slowly than usual. Consider holding back on anything that might tax your system during initial encryption, such as graphics-intensive programs.

After all those clicks, that's it! Just leave Windows to do its thing and in a few hours you'll have a BitLocker-encrypted drive. The length of time it takes BitLocker to fully encrypt your files depends on the size of your drive, or how much data you're encrypting if you're only encrypting existing data on a new PC.


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