Dave Miller – Tech Enthusiast & Security Expert – August 1st, 2022
Everyone thinks of encryption when they want to secure their data, but what is the difference between Windows 11 device encryption vs BitLocker, and which one should you choose? Encryption protects your device’s data so only authorized users can access it.
On the one hand, BitLocker is a comprehensive volume encryption technology included with Microsoft Windows editions starting with Windows Vista. In comparison, Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro allow automated device encryption. Both work to secure your laptop, but when and how to utilize them vary requires fundamental knowledge.
To learn more about when and how to utilize BitLocker and Windows 11 Device Encryption effectively, continue reading this article.
Encryption is a crucial privacy technology that secures your sensitive, private, or personal information. The first documented examples of encryption date back to over 4,000 years in ancient Egypt which has evolved over the years. Now, data is encrypted using sophisticated mathematical algorithms and private keys. The data is encrypted using these intricate methods, and the data can only be unlocked using a key that the owner holds. In today’s world of cybersecurity, data encryption is essential, and almost no complete security solutions exist without it.
The typical security measures connected with logging into Windows are usually present when you access your laptop’s files through Windows. However, if someone wanted to get over those Windows security measures. In that case, they could open your laptop’s casing and take out the actual hard drive, which would also get through the Windows limitations.
However, if your drive is encrypted, anyone attempting to get around it will need the decryption key to access anything on it. They will require decryption keys, without which your data will be nothing more than a pile of useless text for them. There are two methods to have encryption, which is why I’m here to talk about Windows 11 device encryption vs BitLocker and see which will provide you better safety.
A critical security measure on a Windows PC is to encrypt every piece of data. Thankfully, Windows 11 offers high-quality encryption options, including BitLocker Drive Encryption. All the data on the Windows disk is encrypted thanks to a built-in security mechanism. It gets intended to mitigate the risks of data theft by offering encryption for entire volumes. It operates by default with a 128-bit or 256-bit key and the AES encryption method in cipher block chaining or XTS mode. Data is encrypted with 256-bit encryption using the AES, RSA, and SSL algorithms. It got first developed for military uses. You may thus presume the degree of security.
A hardware part known as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) with version 1.2 or later gets utilized in combination with BitLocker. The TPM is a smartcard-like motherboard module present in all modern computers. It is essentially a secure crypto-processor to perform cryptographic operations.
Malicious software cannot interfere with the TPM’s security capabilities, and the chip has several physical security features to prevent tampering. Data is locked using BitLocker and TPM until the correct credentials get used. Now that each time you turn on your computer, that unique pin code will be required to access the encrypted drive. Utilizing this TPM, your hard disk will also get a recovery key from BitLocker. Take good care of these recovery keys since if you lose them, Microsoft support won’t be able to help you because they don’t have access to them either.
Note: If your computer lacks a TPM, you must save a start-up key on a portable disk, such as a USB flash drive, to enable BitLocker.
There are extra benefits offered by BitLocker as well. It also allows the user to prevent the system from starting up generally unless they (PIN) or insert a detachable storage device, like a USB flash drive, with a start-up key. It gets termed as BitLocker device encryption.
Note: The first time you connect to a personal Microsoft account on eligible Windows 10 or newer devices, BitLocker will automatically switch on. However, BitLocker gets not enabled by default for local accounts; you must explicitly enable it using the Manage BitLocker utility.
Follow the steps below to enable BitLocker drive encryption
Step 1: Log in as the administrator on your Windows computer
Step 2: Type Manage BitLocker into the taskbar’s search box, then choose it from the results list. Alternatively, you may access BitLocker drive encryption by going to Settings > Privacy & security > Device encryption.
Note: If your device supports BitLocker, you will only see this choice. Although, the Windows 11 Home edition does not include it.
Step 3: Next, choose to enable BitLocker, and then adhere to the on-screen directions.
With the release of Windows 11, users have access to several new features and improved security. One significant modification with an emphasis on security and privacy was the requirement for the TPM 2.0 chip. Greater crypto agility is made possible by TPM 2.0’s increased algorithm flexibility.
As a result, Microsoft Windows has a security feature called Windows device encryption that helps to secure your data via encrypting the system drive. Device encryption is more efficient and quicker than other full-disk encryption techniques.
Only authorized persons can access your device and data if encryption is enabled. It checks to see if the device’s security is all-encompassing and only permits access to your data when it gets powered on and logged in to an account. In addition to having a backup of your contents in case you lose access to the device, you should ensure your recovery key is on hand.
Automatic device encryption gets supported on Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro, and this device-wide encryption gets automatically turned on. But only systems that fulfill the criteria mentioned earlier have automatic device encryption enabled. So, remember that Modern Standby and Connected Standby validation, which needs TPM 2.0 and contemporary UEFI software, is required for device encryption.
Note: If your device supports device encryption and you log into your Microsoft account during first-time setup, it will be activated. Your Microsoft account will be where the recovery key gets kept.
For the below steps to enable Device Encryption
Step #1: Log on to Windows as an administrator.
Step #2: Next, navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Device encryption by clicking the Start button.
Note: If the Device encryption is unavailable, it is not available on your device. Instead, you might be able to enable the basic BitLocker encryption described below. You can also verify this by opening System Information from the Start menu and then looking for Device Encryption Support in the list of information. The availability of device encryption on your device is indicated by the value “Meets requirements.”
Step #3: Choose Turn on if device encryption is available.
Now, If I discuss the fundamental distinction between Windows 11 device encryption vs BitLocker. I’ll say that Device Encryption encrypts your system and secondary drives, and you can’t specifically exclude a disk or partition. On the other hand, BitLocker allows you to encrypt just one disk or every drive. You also get a range of management tools to safeguard your data. BitLocker encryption is available on eligible devices running Windows 10 or 11 Pro, Enterprise, or Education, while Windows 11 also supports device encryption.
So, if we’re talking about laptop security, which is better? BitLocker and Device Encryption both perform well at the highest levels of encryption. In contrast, BitLocker offers robust encryption protocols and administration capabilities to protect your data. Still, device encryption is more efficient and quick than BitLocker encryption techniques.
Since not all laptops will have device encryption. You can utilize the BitLocker device encryption, which further safeguards the system by effectively executing device-wide data encryption. BitLocker device encryption is automatically engaged, unlike a typical BitLocker implementation, ensuring the device is always secure. You can opt for device encryption if your laptop does not have BitLocker.
To assist in safeguarding the BitLocker encryption keys from cold boot assaults, modern Windows machines are increasingly secured with BitLocker Device Encryption and integrate SSO.
You now know the difference between Windows 11 device encryption vs BitLocker. When you want to employ disk encryption or whole device encryption will be the deciding factor.
You might be wondering how Bitlocker device encryption differs from standard device encryption. Despite using the same BitLocker technology, despite device encryption, it is not consistent. Device encryption is the sole option available while using the Windows Home edition. However, BitLocker, which offers additional administration and capabilities, may be activated using Windows Pro and higher editions.
Microsoft fears home users won’t understand what they’re doing when they encrypt their device and ultimately lose access to it. So they do not want home users to use BitLocker. Technically, device encryption is similar to BitLocker, except that you cannot modify its settings.
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Dave Miller is an IT Consultant for Online Cloud Security and has over 7 years of experience in the Information Technology space. He also specializes in repairing laptops & computers. In his spare time, he loves to talk about new technologies and hosts monthly IT and Cyber Security meetings in the Houston area.
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