First conceptualized in 2004 and released to the public in 2007, BitLocker has been included with nearly every version of Microsoft Windows since. It uses AES encryption at 128-bit or 256-bit to secure entire volumes, and it's a handy feature to have for anyone – or any organization - that is concerned about data security.
But how can you use BitLocker to make your system safer? What are its primary features and, perhaps more importantly, what are the minimum system requirements for using BitLocker?
BitLocker at a Glance
Microsoft's BitLocker software works in tandem with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 1.2 or later. In many cases, TPMs are installed by default within new computers. While computers without a TPM 1.2 or later can still utilize BitLocker, it requires the creation of a USB startup key when starting the computer or when returning from hibernation. Users of Windows 8 or later can utilize a password on the volume that contains their operating system, which also circumvents the need for a TPM 1.2 or later.
BitLocker is used to encrypt logical volumes within a computer system. This logical volume might be a certain portion of a single hard drive, an entire hard drive, or portions spanning multiple drives. Once it's been enabled, BitLocker works to maintain the integrity of your system BIOS and boot sector, thereby eliminating most offline threats and any type of malware that exists within the boot sector.
To enable BitLocker on your system, sign into your Windows OS using an administrator account. Select the Start menu and navigate to Settings. From there, navigate to Privacy & security and, finally, Device encryption. If the Device encryption option doesn't appear, you'll need to use standard BitLocker encryption.
Again, ensure you're signed in with an administrator account and type "Manage BitLocker" into the search box on your taskbar. Conversely, you can also click on the Start menu and navigate to Settings. From there, navigate to Privacy & security and located Device Encryption. Finally, click on BitLocker drive encryption and select "Turn on BitLocker"
BitLocker has some rather strict system requirements, including:
You'll also need to make sure that your version of Windows is compatible with BitLocker. Compatible versions include:
Note that you'll only find BitLocker on your system if it's available on your device. Users of incompatible devices will need to find another means of encrypting and securing their data.
You may read more about BitLocker in the article on the Microsoft Learn server: BitLocker.