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Encrypt Files
Encrypting your data is a strong way of protecting your information. It makes your sensitive content unreadable to anyone with bad intentions, like identity theft. The information will only be readable by you and whoever else has the encryption password. Here's how to encrypt your files in different locations. 

Quick Links to sections in this article:
Hard Drive       External/USB Drives       Microsoft Office Documents       PDFs 

Encrypting your files often requires the use of a password. Be sure to use a strong, secure password. Learn more information about password safety

Hard Drive
All of the information on your computer is stored on the hard drive. If someone steals your computer or hard drive, they can access all of your sensitive information, even if there is a password to log in to your computer. Encrypt your hard drive to ensure protection of all your information. 

Note: You must have Ultimate/Enterprise Windows 7 or Vista, or Pro/Enterprise Windows 8 to use this process. 

Step 1: Click the Start menu button and select Control Panel

Start Menu, Control Panel
Step 2: In Category view, click System and Security

Category View, System and Security
Step 3: Scroll down and click on BitLocker Drive Encryption

BitLocker Drive Encryption
Step 4: Next to OSDisk (C:) (your hard drive), click Turn On BitLocker

Turn On BitLocker for your Hard Drive
Step 5: If prompted, enter your computer password. Step 6: The encryption setup will begin. Click Next and follow through the setup.

Click Next
Step 7: BitLocker will ask if you would like to use it without additional keys, require an additional PIN upon starting up your computer, or require a startup key.

If you do not have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip, you will only be able to select Require a Startup Key. This means that you will have to use a USB thumb drive to store your encryption key, and you will need to insert the flash drive every time you access your computer.

Encryption Preferences
Step 8: Continue through the setup. Your hard drive will be encrypted upon completion. 

External/USB Drives
Encrypt your external drive or USB thumb drive using BitLocker To Go. You must have Ultimate/Enterprise Windows 7 or Vista, or Pro/Enterprise Windows 8 to use this process. 

Step 1: Insert the external device you wish to encrypt. Step 2: Click the Start menu button and select Control Panel

Start Menu, Control Panel
Step 3: In Category view, click System and Security

Category View, System and Security
Step 4: Scroll down and click on BitLocker Drive Encryption

BitLocker Drive Encryption
Step 5: Next to your device, under BitLocker To Go, click Turn on BitLocker

Turn on BitLocker for External Device
Step 6: Select to use a password or a smart card to unlock your device. If you use a password, enter it in the appropriate boxes. Click Next and follow through the setup.

Encryption Preferences
Step 7: Your external drive will be encrypted upon completion. 
Microsoft Office Documents
Encrypt Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files in 2013 using the same process: Instructions.  


PDFs
Use Adobe Acrobat X Pro to encrypt your PDF files: Instructions.


Adapted from:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/what-is-encryption
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2025462/how-to-encrypt-almost-anything.html


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helpdesk.etown.edu/helpconsole2012/kb/default.aspx?pageid=encrypt_files