Safe Computing
Home Students Faculty and Staff IT Security Community

Use BitLocker Full Drive Encryption

Before you proceed: These resources are intended for non-technical users who manage their own computers. If your computer is managed by ITS, do not proceed. Contact your IT administrator for further assistance.

What is Full Drive Encryption?

Encryption is the standard technology used to protect data from unauthorized disclosure. It is the process of encoding information in such a way that hackers or eavesdroppers cannot read it, but authorized parties can. BitLocker provides full drive encryption (for Windows operating systems), so that all files are protected from unauthorized users in the event that your computer is stolen. BitLocker can also be used to encrypt all files on fixed data drives, such as internal hard drives.

Windows also offers Encrypting File System (EFS), which encrypts files and folders one-by-one. BitLocker is the recommended method for securing your information because:

  • You don't have to worry about getting documents into the encrypted folders
  • You don't have to worry about unencrypted sensitive data left over in temp files, page files, hibernation files, etc.

Bitlocker Drive Encryption and Encrypting Files System (EFS) can be used together to get the protection offered by both features. Learn more about the difference between BitLocker Drive Encryption and Encrypting File System.

Use the following step-by-step resources to guide you through the process of installing BitLocker on your Windows PC:

Additional Resource

What Is Encryption?