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How to encrypt your backup drive using BitLocker

How to encrypt your backup drive using BitLocker

Data security is a major talking point. Data breaches and data loss are a big deal to businesses of all sizes.  We’ve previously written about the pros and cons of encrypting your backup. One of the easier ways to protect your backup data is to encrypt your backup drive. As a result; this article outlines the way to encrypt your backup drive using BitLocker.


BitLocker is a free drive encryption tool that comes with Windows.

What is BitLocker?

Firstly, BitLocker is a full disk (hardware) encryption based tool which Microsoft provides free. It’s available in any Windows installation (server and desktop) since Windows Vista.

This means that it will encrypt the entire hard disk; rather than just the data or files sitting on the backup drive.

In addition to this; Wikipedia contains a page about BitLocker.

About our guide to encrypt your backup drive using BitLocker

First of all; some need to knows include:

  1. Operating System is Windows 10.

  2. A blank USB removable hard drive; assigned drive letter F:.

  3. We are using Control Panel in Large icons view.

Step by Step instructions to encrypt your backup drive using BitLocker

Opening the Control Panel

1. Open the Control Panel by typing ‘Control Panel’ into the Search bar and clicking on Control Panel Desktop App.

Control Panel

2. In the Control Panel window; select BitLocker Drive Encryption.

BitLocker Drive Encryption

The BitLocker Encryption Wizard

3. Once in the BitLocker Encryption Window; a list of drives which can used are listed. Select the drop down arrow next to the drive to encrypt and click ‘Turn on BitLocker’.

Turn on BitLocker

4. Select the method to use to unlock the drive once it’s encrypted by ticking the checkbox. The options are:

  1. Use a password to unlock the drive

  2. Use my smart card to unlock the drive

In our example, we will select Use a password to unlock the drive.

5. Type the password to use in both the Enter your Password and Re-enter your password boxes then click Next.

Re-enter your password

6. On the ‘How do you want to backup your recovery key?’ screen, select the option best for you.

  1. Save to a file

  2. Print the recovery key

Note: The recovery key is needed if you forget the password which you entered on step 5.

In our example; we’re going to save the recovery key to file on our desktop. Once the file is saved, click Next.

7. Now to choose how you want your backup drive encrypted. The two options available are:

  1. Encrypt used disk space (faster and best for new PC’s and drives)

  2. Encrypt entire disk (slower but best for PC’s and drives that are in use)

Therefore; as our drive contains no data we are using option a. Encrypt used disk space.


 Note: The time it takes to encrypt the drive will depend on how much data is already on the drive, and the physical size of the drive itself. It’s possible for a used 2TB drive to take around 24 hours to finish encrypting.

8. Choose which encryption mode to use gives you the best option to encrypt the drive you’re using:

  1. New encryption mode (best for fixed drives on this device)

  2. Compatibility mode (best for drives which can be moved from this device)

Therefore; we’re using option b. as it’s a removable USB drive. The wizard can potentially select the option best for the drive being encrypted automatically. Click Next once ready.


Begin the encryption process

9. Now that everything is configured, select Start encrypting to begin the encryption process.

Start encrypting

10. A real-time progress bar is provided during encryption. Once finished; you’ll see a popup that says encryption is complete.

encryption is complete

Finally; that’s all there is to it. Encrypting the drive gives an extra layer of protection to help prevent unauthorized access.

Especially relevant; if you found this how to guide useful share then it on your social media using the buttons below. Alternatively; let us know by writing to us directly.

#backupandrecovery #BitLocker #encryption

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