How to Protect a Removable USB Drive

This should be done for all removable drives ever attached to a Prairie Spirit computer to
keep your and student's information private and safe.

1. Before You Start!

Protecting your drive (called encryption) can be a time consuming process. Please make sure to allocate sufficient time before starting as the external drive will not be usable and you should not power off (or unplug) the computer or the external drive while BitLocker is undergoing its initial setup. Please reference the chart above.


2. Open File Explorer


3. Find Your External Drive

In the navigation menu on the left of the File Explorer window you should see the external drive (example circled above).


4. Start BitLocker

1. Right mouse click on the external drive
2. Left mouse click on "Turn on BitLocker"


5. Choose how you want to unlock this drive

  1. Select the box next to "Use a password to unlock the drive
  2. Create a password
  3. Retype the password exactly the same

The strength of the protection is almost entirely based on the strength of your password.
Passwords should contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, spaces, and symbols.


6. Create an emergency recovery key

  1. Click "Save to a file"
  2. Select your Z: drive
  3. Click "Save"

7. Click "Next" to Continue

BitLocker will confirm that your recovery key saved (circled below. Then click "Next" to continue.


8. Choose How Much of Your Drive to Encrypt

Click the circle next to "Encrypt entire drive (slower but best for PCs and drives already in use)"


9. Choose Which Encryption Mode to Use

  1. Click the circle next to "Compatible mode (best for drives that can be moved from this device)"
  2. Click "Next" to continue

10. Are You Ready to Encrypt This Drive

Click on the "Start encrypting" button (circled below) to begin. REMEMBER: This could take a while.


11. Encrypting...

If you absolutely must interrupt the encryption process, click the Pause button. Pausing encryption may cause the device to not work properly though, so it is best to let it continue. See the step of this document for an estimate on how long this step should take.


12. Protection Complete

The progress window from the previous step will automatically close when BitLocker is finished. If you return to your File Explorer window you should now see that your drive's name has been hidden and a padlock has been added to the icon to indicate the drive's protected state (as circled above)


See How to Access an Encrypted Drive for more information on accessing your newly secured files.