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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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BitLocker Drive Encryption

EFS is a great way to keep prying eyes out of individual files. But Microsoft wouldn’t be Microsoft if it didn’t give you six variations on a theme. And BitLocker, available on Windows 8.1 Pro, goes much farther than protecting individual files or folders; it can encrypt an entire drive.

After all, when million-dollar corporate secrets are at stake, a determined, knowledgeable thief could swipe your laptop, nab your flash drive, or even steal the hard drive out of your desktop PC.

If security is that important for you, then you’ll be happy to know about BitLocker Drive Encryption, a feature of the Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows 8.1. When you turn on this feature, your PC automatically encrypts (scrambles) everything on an entire drive, including all of Windows itself.

If the bad guy tries any industrial-strength tricks to get into the drive—trying to reprogram the startup routines, for example, or starting up from a different hard drive—BitLocker presents a steel-reinforced password screen. No password, no decryption.

In Windows 8.1, you also get BitLocker to Go—a disk-encryption feature especially for removable drives like USB flash drives. Even if you lose it or leave it behind, it’s worthless to anyone without the password.

You don’t notice much difference when BitLocker is turned on. You log in as usual, clicking your name and typing your password. But if a malefactor ever gets his hands on the actual disk, he’ll be in for a disappointing surprise. ...

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