Secure and Free Online Backup Procedure

Using BitLocker in Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions to encrypt your data and then uploading it to the cloud (such as, Windows Live SkyDrive, Dropbox, etc.) can provide you with a secure online backup solution at no costs. The only caveat is that you need to perform some manual tasks before uploading the encrypted data to cloud storage. If you simply upload encrypted data from an active drive protected with BitLocker to cloud storage, it will be stored in the cloud in unencrypted form, which means it could be read by whoever has administrative access to the cloud where data is stored. In order to retain encryption of your uploaded data, the encrypted drive has to be dismounted and uploaded as a raw file. You could achieve this by creating a virtual hard drive, copy your sensitive files, encrypt it using BitLocker, and upload the vhd file to the cloud as described below:

  1. From the Computer Management snap-in, click Action and then Create VHD
  2. On the Create and Attach Virtual Hard Disk window, specify a location where the vhd file will be stored on your machine, set a max size for your vhd file and check the Dynamically expanding check box – the size of the virtual hard disk expands to a fixed max size as data is saved to it!
  3. From the Computer Management snap-in, right click on the newly created Virtual hard disk and select Initialize Disk and in the Initialize Disk window, click OK
  4. From the Computer Management snap-in, right click in the Unallocated space of the newly initialized disk and select New Simple Volume to load the New Simple Volume Wizard, then click Next
  5. On the Specify Volume Sixe page of the New Simple Volume Wizard, click Next
  6. On the Assign Drive Letter or Path page, assign your preferred drive letter and click Next
  7. On the Format Partition page, check the Enable file and folder compression check box and click Next and finally click Finish
  8. Copy your sensitive personal data to the newly created hard drive. You can set this drive as the destination location in your data backup application. However, it is recommended to use the cloud storage such as, Amazon cloud services only for your most important files to save upload/download speed times and storage space!
  9. From Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\BitLocker Drive Encryption or from the Start search text type in BitLocker and press enter, open the BitLocker utility – to read more about BitLocker go here
  10. Turn on BitLocker for the newly created disk drive by selecting the Turn On BitLocker item
  11. On the Choose how you want to unlock this drive, check the Use a password to unlock the drive check box and enter a strong password, then click Next
  12. Save the recover key to a file – A BitLocker recovery key is a special key that you can create when you turn on BitLocker Drive Encryption for the first time on each drive that you encrypt. You should store the recovery key by printing it, saving it on removable media, or saving it as a file in a folder on another drive on your computer that you are not encrypting. Click Next
  13. Click Start Encrypting to complete the process
  14. When the encryption process is complete go to the Computer Management snap-in and right click the newly created virtual disk and select Detach VHD
  15. Go to your online storage account and upload the disk vhd file from the stored location as set in step 2

For instance, if you are using SkyDrive as your cloud storage you can use Windows Live Mesh to synch your vhd and possibly automate the process however, make sure to create a virtual disk drive less than 5 GB if you are using the free storage space you get with Windows Live Mesh.