Encrypt External Drives (Windows 10)

The instructions explain the encryption process for an external hard drive, such as a jump drive, using the encryption tool BitLocker.

Note: The Service Desk cannot retrieve passwords for users. If the Bitlocker password is lost, the information on the external hard drive is lost.

When the external hard drive is connected to the computer, it will be visible in Windows Explorer in the Device or drives section. Right-click on the drive and select the Turn on BitLocker.

Windows Explorer Right Click 

BitLocker will begin initializing the drive. The process will not affect the data that is already on the drive.

Bitlocker Initializing  

Once the initialization process is complete, BitLocker will prompt the user to set up a password to unlock the drive.

Create Password  

After the password is created, BitLocker will prompt to back up the recovery key. The recovery key can be used to unlock the drive in the event that the password is forgotten. The recovery can be saved to a file or printed. Once the backup method is determined select Next.

Recovery Key  

Bitlocker allows the user to choose how much data is encrypted. Used disk space can be encrypted or the entire disk drive can be encrypted. Once it is determined which option is best, select Next.

How Much to Encrypt  

Bitlocker for Windows 10 also provides options for the encryption mode. One option is only compatible if the drive is used on Windows 10 and the other option allows for use with older versions of Windows. Once the mode is selected, select Next.

Encryption Mode  

Once all selections are made, the user will be prompted to begin the encryption process.

Start Encrypting  

During the encryption process, a progress monitor will display. The amount of time that it takes to complete the process will depend on the size of the drive. There is a Pause button that will allow the user to temporarily halt the process.


After the process is complete, a confirmation will display and a lock will appear on the drive in Windows Explorer.


Lockon Drive

To review Bitlocker options, such as changing or removing the password and turning Bitlocker off, right click on the drive in Windows Explorer and select Manage Bitlocker.

Manage Bitlocker  

Bitlocker options will appear next to the drive that is encrypted.

 Bitlocker Options