An external hard drive is any device that carries your files like documents, files, songs, and movies, etc. However, people often ask the question of whether encryption is necessary or not? The answer is simple. It is essential to encrypt an external hard drive if you want your data to be safe from bugs, malware, and viruses to prevent it from getting wasted.

Your question must be how to encrypt external hard drive Windows 10? Mentioned below are the answers to all your questions.

Part 1: Encrypt External Hard Drive with Bitlocker

1. What is Encryption?

The process of encryption involves the use of mathematical functions and protects it from any harmful virus. Your encrypted external hard drive will be password or pin protected, which means that someone who doesn’t have the relevant passcode won’t be able to access your data.

Encrypting an external hard drive is not as complicated as it sounds. All you have to do is find a credible tool for encryption. To encrypt the external hard drive people most commonly use Bitlocker.

2. Bitlocker

Bitlocker is free of cost encryption tool that is considered the most reliable one, and it utilizes the AES algorithm. Bitlocker works well with the Window Operating System.

3. Step-Wise Guide on How to Encrypt External Hard Drive Windows 10?

To encrypt your external hard drive, you need first to check whether you have Bitlocker. The latest Windows 9 and 10 already have Bitlocker installed. To check, right-click on any hard drive, and there will be an option of “turn on Bitlocker.” If there is no such option you should, then it means that you don’t have it. If such an option is available, you should click on it and save a key as a password.

It is always better to save the key someplace safe, in case you forget. After saving the recovery key, you get to decide whether you want to encrypt the whole external drive or just encrypt your data.

Usually, Windows 10 already has Bitlocker, and it introduces a brand-new encryption method XTS-AES, which gives a better performance than regular AES used in windows 7 and 8. Following are the steps to encrypt external hard drive Windows 10:

  • Connect your external hard drive with your computer.
  • Open the Control panel and select the options of Bitlocker Drive Encryption.
  • A dialogue box will then ask you to select the drive you want to encrypt, select the external drive.

    select the external drive to turn on bitlocker
  • After selecting, click “Turn on BitLocker.”
  • Upon clicking, a window will pop up, which will display the completion of initialization.
  • After initializing, it will show two options:

    • a. Use a password to unlock.
    • b. Use my smart card to unlock.
  • Select the option “Use a passcode to unlock drive” and then enter a password.

    enter password to encrypt the drive
  • Now you are given a recovery key, which is used just in case you forget your password. You have to save your recovery key someplace safe. The “Save to a file” option is mostly recommended as it is a safe option.
  • After saving the recovery key, click “Next”. Now you get to decide whether you want to encrypt the entire drive or just space where you have saved your data.
  • After that, you have to select the compatibility mode. You choose the “New encryption mode” if you will use the drive only with Windows 10, but you should select “Compatible mode” to use the external drive with older Windows versions like Windows 7 and 8.

    choose encryption mode
  • Click Start encrypting.
  • It will take quite some time, so you have to wait for it to complete.
  • After completion, click “close,” which is how you encrypt external hard drive Windows 10.

Part 2: How to Turn off Bitlocker on External Hard Drive

There are three ways to turn off Bitlocker on an External Drive. The easiest way is to disable Bitlocker through Windows GUI (graphic user interface) mode. Turning off Bitlocker on an external hard drive involves the following steps:

  • Search for the “Control Panel” in the search bar.
  • Click on the Control Panel to open it.
  • Click “System and security icon” and then click on Bitlocker Drive Encryption.
  • Now look for the external drive on which you want to disable the encryption. Select the external drive.
  • After selecting, click on “Turn off Bitlocker”.
  • A message will be displayed telling you that decryption might take some time. Click on “Decrypt the drive.”
  • A window will show the process of decryption.

Also Read: 3 Easy Ways to Change Bitlocker Password

Frequently Asked Questions Related to “Encrypt External Hard Drive”

Q1: Can BitLocker encrypt an external hard drive?

Yes, people use Bitlocker to encrypt an external hard drive. However, this is only possible when the external drive is connected and recognized by a computer which has Bitlocker. People all over the world use Bitlocker to encrypt hard drives.

Q2: Can I use a BitLocker encrypted drive on another computer?

One can easily use Bitlocker encrypted hard drive on another computer as long as you know the password or pin. All Bitlocker encrypted hard disks are passcode protected. Whether or not you can use an encrypted external drive on another computer also depends on the mode selected during encryption. If you set compatible mode, you can access your drive on any.

Q3: How long does it take BitLocker to decrypt a drive?

How much time will decryption take depends on the amount of data that you have encrypted in the first place. Bitlocker decryption can take as little as 20 minutes or can go up to hours depending upon the amount of encrypted data on the drive.


Encrypting an external hard drive is necessary if you want to keep your data safe. Encrypt external hard drive as any bug or virus can affect your precious data, and you won’t be able to do anything about it when your drive doesn’t work at all. The latest technology has made the process of encryption easier. Learn how to encrypt an external hard drive on Windows 10, reset the Windows password, and create a Windows account within minutes with the PassFab 4WinKey.

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