Encrypting USB Storage Devices with Windows BitLocker

Intended Audience:

This article is intended for current faculty, staff, and students who would like assistance in encrypting USB flash drives or external hard drives using Windows BitLocker to Go.


To follow this article you will need to have a working version of Windows.

Please note: If you are running Windows and want to encrypt drives with BitLocker, you must have an Enterprise or Professional edition operating system. However, you still can open and modify encrypted drives in any edition of Windows 8, 10, and 11.

Encrypting USB Storage Devices with Windows BitLocker

  1. Go to file explore, select the USB device you want to encrypt by right clicking it (the USB device will be one of the listed options on the left-hand side), then click Turn on BitLocker from the listed options.


  1. Select the box to Use a password to unlock the drive and enter a strong password that you will remember.


  1. As a safety feature, you will be presented with recovery options. We recommend saving a recovery key and storing it in a safe location.


  1. You will now be prompted to select between encryption options, please read them and select the best choice for you. 



5. Click "Start encrypting". Do not unplug the drive while it is encrypting.


6. When the encryption is finished, you will get a popup notification. You can close out of it.


7. To access your files the next time you plug the drive into a computer, you will be prompted to enter the password you set in step 2.



For more information about Windows BitLocker, and a rundown of frequently asked questions regarding this Windows feature, please visit here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831507.aspx. For a complete list of security requirements and assistance, please visit the UMICH Safe Computing page at https://www.safecomputing.umich.edu/.

If you have any questions or experience any issues with this article, please visit or contact the ITS Helpdesk for assistance.


Location: 206 Murchie Science Building

Hours: go.umflint.edu/hours

Phone: (810) 762-3123

Email: flint.its.support@umich.edu


Article ID: 6043
Thu 7/22/21 2:46 PM
Thu 3/2/23 6:10 PM