Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Encryption
Windows 7 RC1 comes with BitLocker, a feature that was previously reserved only for the more rarefied and expensive versions of Vista. BitLocker is a drive encryption process whereby anyone who manages to get their hands on your computer or even just your hard drive is out of luck: they can't read any data unless they have the password.
Windows 7 introduces new twists to the BitLocker security arsenal. First of all, let's check out BitLocker To Go.
BitLocker To Go encrypts the data on any portable media you can connect to your PC. Since it seems that there are virtually no key fobs left that don't have an attached USB key, most people are blissfully unaware that the little key they've just tossed onto the booth table at McDonald's can easily be ripped off and accessed, revealing everything about you from your bank passwords to those nude photos of you at the Christmas office party.
BitLocker To Go makes it very easy to encrypt the data on any USB key drive. Simply stick the key into any USB port, click the Start button at the lower left, type in BitLocker and then click on Bitlocker Drive Encryption. Now Turn on BitLocker.
Unless your USB key drive is prehistoric and lacks the capacity to be encrypted, BitLocker will now proceed to set it up for encryption of data.
Pick a nice, secure password with a minimum of 8 characters. If you're truly profoundly stupid, use your birthday. The malcreants would never figure that one out! Duh.
Try to use a combination of alphanumerical and weird characters such as g/K#8^t+ and make sure that you don't forget it or your USB key will be trash.
Since you're probably going to forget it anyway and then really get stuck, Windows 7 offers you the option of saving your a recovery key to a file or even printing it out. This recovery key can help you get access to a USB drive that you've lost the password to. Although I'm not really sure what good a recovery key is, as you might as well keep the password and save the recovery key step. Regardless, keep this in a secure place away from your PC as well as any prying eyes.
You're now ready to encrypt the drive to keep all your data safe and secure.
I have three USB drives: 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB. I have never ever put enough data on any of these three drives to max out even the smallest one. I honestly don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to shell out the big bucks to carry around 32GB or more of their data on a USB key drive.
I have a 1TB RAID 1 mirrored drive set for data on my Core i7 920 main system. I have exactly 16.1 GB of data on it. The rest is empty. So where is all my data? That's it! It's all there, except for the actual operating system and application files which reside on my VelociRaptor boot drive, and even that one only has a relatively meagre 47 GB used up on it. I see absolutely no reason why I should carry around next to my car and house keys all 16.1 GB of data. Totally pointless.
I know, I know... there are many computer users out there who have several TB of data on their drives, but since the vast majority of these people are content pirates, I couldn't care less about them.
Having said that, if you have one of the aforesaid humongous USB key drives, the process of encrypting it can take a while. It's going to be much faster with a more reasonable capacity drive.
Keep in mind that if you're plunking your Windows 7 encrypted key into a computer using another operating system it might just see it as an unformatted drive and that could lead to accidental overwriting. The only other OS that recognize the Windows 7 encryption are Windows XP SP3 and Vista SP1.
Once you have the USB key drive in a computer running a compatible operating system you'll see this:
If you've remembered your password, you now have access to all the data on the device.
BitLocker Biometric is a truly futuristic feature built into Windows 7. If you have a fingerprint scanner on your computer (and surprisingly many new notebooks do), you can set up Windows 7 to recognize only your fingertips!
BitLocker Biometric will allow you to select any finger to "enroll" into the protection scheme.
Once you've assigned a fingerprint to your computer, you will be the only one that can access it, and future extensions will also allow you to fingerprint restrict access to individual applications or even features within those applications. That way you won't have to remember weird passwords any longer, you'll just have to be on your guard against data thieves with sharp finger-cutting knives!
Read The Entire Windows 7 Complete Guide!
Windows 7: The Complete Guide
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Getting Started
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Backup & Restore
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Security & Privacy
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Encryption
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Aero & Libraries
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - HomeGroup
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Tips & Tricks
Windows 7: The Complete Guide - Turn Off The Junk & Crank Up The Speed
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