Password protect sensitive data using BitLocker and a little virtualization on your Windows 11 compute.
Password protection is a much-needed feature if you work in a shared environment, or are using a single PC among a group of people. Though Windows 11 does not have a native solution to password-protect a folder, using a third-party app is a solution not everyone is comfortable with.
That being said, BitLocker has been a part of the operating system for many years now. However, it can only lock a complete drive and not a folder. Fortunately, you can use a workaround and use BitLocker to password-protect your data.
Create a Virtual Drive
You will first need to create a virtual partition on your Windows device which you can then password-protect using BitLocker. The process might seem a bit technical at first, but once you get a hang of it, it is a cakewalk.
First, head to the Start Menu and type Disk Management to perform a search. After that, click on the ‘Create and format hard disk partitions’ tile to proceed.
Now, click on the ‘Action’ tab and select the ‘Create VHD’ option. This will open a separate window on your screen.
Then, click on the ‘Browse’ button and choose a location using File Explorer where you wish to save the folder.
Next, click on the radio button preceding the ‘VHDX’ option. After that, enter the size of the disk that you wish to create. Then, click on the radio button preceding the ‘Dynamically expanding’ option. Finally, click on the ‘OK’ button.
Note: To create a virtual disk, Windows will shrink the selected drive by the size that you entered to have on the virtual disk. Moreover, since the virtual disk is dynamically expanding, if it exceeds the specified size, it will further reduce the main drive on your computer.
Once the virtual drive has been created, right-click on the disk from the bottom section of the window and select the ‘Initialize disk’ option. This will bring a separate window to your screen.
Now, click on the checkbox preceding the name of the disk. After that, click on the radio button preceding the ‘GPT’ option. Finally, click on the ‘OK’ button.
Then, right-click on the ‘Unallocated’ space represented by a black bar and click on the ‘New simple volume’ option. This will open a separate window on your screen.
After that, click on the ‘Next’ button to proceed.
Then, let the volume size setting be on default. Click on the ‘Next’ button.
After that, assign a drive letter by choosing one from the drop-down menu. Then, click on the ‘Next’ button.
Then, click on the radio button preceding the ‘Format this volume with the following settings:’ option. Next, select the ‘NTFS’ in the drop-down following the ‘File system’ option. And enter a name for the volume you wish to create. Lastly, click on the checkbox preceding the ‘Perform quick format’ option and click on the ‘Next’ button.
After that click on the ‘Finish’ button. That’s it, you have successfully created a virtual drive on your PC.
Set up Virtual Drive with BitLocker
Once you have created a virtual drive you can easily set it up using BitLocker and password-protect any data.
First, head to the Start Menu and click on the ‘Settings’ tile to proceed. Alternatively, you can also press the Windows+I keys together on your keyboard to open the app.
After that make sure you have selected the ‘System’ tab from the left sidebar.
Then, click on the ‘Storage’ tile from the right section to continue.
Next, click on the ‘Advanced storage settings’ tile to expand and then click on the ‘Disks & volumes’ option to proceed.
Now, select the volume you just created and click on the ‘Properties’ button.
Now, scroll down and click on ‘Turn on BitLocker’ at the bottom of the page to continue. This will open a separate window on your screen.
Then, again click on the ‘Turn on BitLocker’ option following the newly created drive. This will bring a separate window to your screen.
After that, click on the checkbox preceding the ‘Use a password to unlock the drive’ option. Then, enter the password you wish to use for the drive and click on the ‘Next’ button.
Next, Windows will ask for the location to save the recovery key which would be helpful if you lose your password for the drive. To save it online, click on the ‘Save to your Microsoft account’ option which you acquire by simply logging in from any browser. Otherwise, to save it locally, click on the ‘Save to a USB flash drive’ or ‘Save to a file’ option. You can also print it by clicking on the ‘Print the recovery key’ option.
After that, on the next screen, click on the radio button preceding the option that suits you the best and click on the ‘Next’ button.
Then, click on the ‘Start encrypting’ button to initiate the process.
Once the process has been completed, click on the ‘Close’ button to exit the window. That’s it you have successfully configured the BitLocker on the drive.
Unlocking the Password-Protected Drive
Now that you have locked the drive with a password using BitLocker, it is also imperative that you learn how to open it.
First, head to the directory you chose to store the virtual hard drive files during setup using File Explorer. After that, double-click on the .VHDX file to open it.
In case you receive a prompt that says the value is inaccessible, simply head to the This PC section on your device.
After that, double-click on the ‘BitLocker’drive. This will bring a sign-in page to your screen.
Then, on the sign-in screen, enter the credentials and click on the ‘Unlock’ button.
Note: In case you are not able to remember your password, click on the ‘More options’ button to access recovery methods.
After you have unlocked the drive, it will appear adjacent to it. You can now access, modify, or delete your files from the drive.
To lock the drive, right-click on it and then select the ‘Eject’ option.
There you go, people. By creating a virtual drive to act as a folder and setting up BitLocker to password-protect that drive, you can easily have a password for sensitive data on your Windows 11 device.