Windows 8.1: Hide and encrypt your files without additional software

Do you want to keep some of your files in complete privacy, even when someone has physical access to your computer? You can secure your files in a Bitlocked VHD (Virtual Hard Drive) container. This guide also contains tips on how to disguise your VHD so that it is hidden AND encrypted. It’s not as complicated as it looks! Once you have followed through this guide, you will be able to create an encrypted VHD in 1 minute.

Enter Disk Management by right-clicking the Start icon or searching from the charms bar.

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Action” > “Create VHD

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Use the VHDX format (resilient to power failures, only compatible with Windows 8.1+). Just choose somewhere convenient (like Desktop) to save it, we’ll be moving it later anyway.

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As long as you choose “Dynamically expanding“, you are free to choose as big of size as you want. Choosing “300GB” won’t actually take up 300GB of your hard drive, it’s just the maximum size your VHD is allowed to possibly have. There’s no disadvantage to set it to very large.

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Now, a VHD file will appear in your specified location. In the end, opening this file will mount a password-protected virtual drive volume in which you can secure your files.

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A new disk will also appear in Disk Management. Right-click on the disk and “Initialize Disk“.

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Right-click on the unallocated space of the initialized disk and create a “New Simple Volume“.

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Follow through the steps to create a new volume.

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Assign a drive letter of your choice. I recommend you to choose an uncommon one to avoid confusion with other drives.

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I recommend you to use the NTFS file system. Choose the default “Allocation unit size” unless you’re an expert at it. Use a drive name that is not very noticeable, like “SystemBackup2014.10.25”. Tick “Perform a quick format”. Unless you’re out of disk space, don’t “Enable file and folder compression” because it will hinder the R/W speed of your virtual drive.

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“Finish” the volume creation.

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Your VHD will now have a working partition. It is not secure yet, because anyone who finds the VHD file will be able to open it and the files within.

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Your VHD should now be mounted in Windows Explorer. Right-click on it and “Turn on Bitlocker”.

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You’ll want to “Use a password to unlock the drive“.

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A password recovery key is provided in case you forget your VHD’s password. Store it somewhere safe and different from the location of the VHD file itself.

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Start encrypting“.

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After the encryption is complete, try ejecting the drive and opening it again. You will see this notification:

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Click on the notification and enter your password to access your protected drive.

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Eject the VHD again. Move the VHD file to somewhere stealthy, like C:Windows or C:Program Files.

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And don’t forget to eject the VHD every time after you use it!

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