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How To Encrypt a Drive/Partition With BitLocker in Windows 11

Windows 11 offers a powerful built-in tool called BitLocker that allows you to encrypt your drives and partitions to protect sensitive information and ensure your data remains secure from unauthorized access. BitLocker uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption to protect your data. Once encrypted, only you, using a valid password or other authentication method, can access the data.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you the steps to encrypt any drive or partition using BitLocker in Windows 11. Let’s get started.

Before You Begin

  • BitLocker is only available in Windows 11 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions. If you don’t know which edition you are using, open Settings (Windows key + I) and go to System > About. You will see the edition information under the “Windows Specifications” section.
  • You need administrator rights to enable and encrypt a drive using BitLocker.
  • Back up important data in the drive you are trying to encrypt, just in case something goes wrong during the encryption process.
  • This tutorial is for encrypting fixed drives or partitions. If you want to encrypt your USB drive—follow the guide on encrypting external drives with BitLocker instead.

Encrypt a Drive/Partition Using BitLocker in Windows 11

Press Windows key + I to open Settings. Go to System > Storage.

click storage under the system tab in settings in Windows 11

Click on Advanced Storage Settings and then on Disks & Volumes to see a list of all the drives and partitions on your computer.

click on disks and volumes option

Click on the drive to see all the partitions, then press the Properties button next to the partition you want to encrypt.

click properties

Scroll down and click on Turn on BitLocker on the “Properties” page.

click turn on BitLocker option

This action opens the Control Panel window. Find the drive you want to encrypt under the “Fixed Data Drives” section and click Turn on BitLocker next to it.

Note: If you want to encrypt the OS Drive, you will find it under the “Operating System Drive” section.

click turn on BitLocker option

Select the Use a password to unlock this drive checkbox. Type the password in the blank fields and click Next. Ensure the password is at least 10 characters long and includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols such as spaces, dollar signs, hashes, stars, etc.

Important note: Never use common passwords like ‘password,’ ‘123456,’ ‘admin,’ etc., or predictable passwords such as your date of birth, maiden name, loved one’s name, pet’s name, etc.

type password and click next

Click the Save to a file option to save the recovery key. Alternatively, you can save the recovery key to your Microsoft Account by clicking Save to your Microsoft Account. The recovery key helps you recover BitLocker in case you forget the password.

click save to file

If you are choosing to save the recovery key to a file, select a folder of your choice and click Save.

Important note: You cannot save the recovery key to the same drive you are encrypting. Choose another drive/partition. Additionally, ensure that the recovery key is stored safely.

click save to backup the recovery key

Click Next in the “back up recovery key” window.

click next

Choose the Encrypt used disk space only option and click Next. This is the recommended setting as it is much faster than encrypting the entire drive.

select encrypt used disk space only option and click next

Choose the New encryption mode and click Next.

select new encryption method and click next

Click the Start Encrypting button. This will start the encryption process. Depending on the drive size and the number of files, it will take time to complete. So, sit back and wait until it is complete. While the process is running, do not turn off your computer.

click start encrypting

Once done, click the Close button to exit the BitLocker wizard. You’ve successfully encrypted the partition using BitLocker in Windows 11. To verify, open File Explorer (press Windows key + E) and go to This PC on the sidebar. The encrypted drive will have a lock icon overlayed on the normal drive icon.

If the lock icon is unlocked, the drive is decrypted and accessible. If the lock icon is locked, you must unlock it using the BitLocker password to access the contents.

drive partition encrypted with BitLocker in Windows 11

Note: Windows decrypts the drive as soon as you log into your user account, assuming you used the same account to encrypt the drive. If it doesn’t, you can configure Windows to automatically unlock the BitLocker-encrypted drive.

Wrapping Up — Using BitLocker to Encrypt Drive & Partitions in Windows 11

As you can see, using BitLocker to encrypt a fixed drive, such as your important partitions, is simple and easy. While using BitLocker, make sure you keep the recovery key safe and secure. In case you forget your password, you can use the recovery key to decrypt the drive and change the BitLocker password. Without it, you cannot decrypt the drive, and your data is as good as lost. If you no longer want to use BitLocker, follow this guide on how to disable BitLocker in Windows.

If you have any questions or need help, comment below. I’ll be happy to assist.

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