The new operating system by Microsoft, Windows 7 allows data encryption and subsequent file protection. This includes security for not only the internal hard drives of your computer but also the external drives and the USB flash drives. One of the key security features launched for this purpose is a hard drive encryption scheme known as BitLocker which allows you to not only encrypt individual files but the entire drive as well. This is especially necessary as the large capacity, small USB drives are quite prone to losing sensitive information. Available only for the Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise editions, BitLocker encrypts your personal USB flash drives in such a way that you would require a password to view the device on any PC.
Encrypting USB Flash Drives
To encrypt the pen drive using BitLocker in Windows 7, plug in the USB drive to your computer and open explorer. Right click on the USB drive and select the option “Turn on Bitlocker” from the menu. Set the password for your pen rive before you go to the next step. At this point BitLocker gives you an option to save a recovery key or print it. This is an essential step that allows you to retrieve your encrypted password in case you forget it.
If you select on “Save the Recovery Key”, then it is stored as a specific file in a location chosen by you. You can open this as a Notepad later on if requires. The second option prints the encrypted key as pdf or uses a printer for the task. Save these keys in a safe location to avoid your data being stolen. Now click on the Next button to start the encryption process of your flash drive by Windows 7.
Allow this process to get completed post which you will observe the encryption icon on the drive. Next time you plug in your USB drive, the password would be required to unlock your drive.
If you have inevitably forgotten your password then you have to rely on the recovery key that was created during the encryption phase. Use this for unlocking the drive. Once the drive is unlocked permanently, you can now select “Manage BitLocker” and change the password.