Windows 7 / Getting Started

Windows 7 Encrypting File System

BitLocker is not a replacement for the EFS introduced in Windows 2000, but it is a supplement to the EFS that ensures that the operating system itself is protected from attack. Best practices for protecting sensitive computers and data will combine the two features to provide a high level of assurance of the data integrity on the system.

EFS continues to be an important data-integrity tool in Windows 7. EFS allows the encryption of entire volumes or individual folders and files and can support multiple users using the same computer, each with protected data. Additionally, EFS allows multiple users to have secure access to sensitive data while protecting the data against unauthorized viewing or modification. EFS cannot be used to encrypt system files, however, and it should be combined with BitLocker to encrypt the system drive where sensitive data must be protected. EFS is susceptible to offline attack using the SYSKEY, but when you combine EFS with BitLocker to encrypt the system volume, this attack vector is protected.

EFS uses symmetric key encryption along with public key technology to protect files and folders. Each user of EFS is issued a digital certificate with a public and private key pair. EFS uses the keys to encrypt and decrypt the files transparently for the logged-on user. Authorized users work with encrypted files and folders just as they do with unencrypted files and folders. Unauthorized users receive an Access Denied message in response to any attempt to open, copy, move, or rename the encrypted file or folder.

Files are encrypted with a single symmetrical key, and then the symmetrical key is encrypted twice: once with the user's EFS public key to allow transparent decryption and once with the recovery agent's key to allow data recovery.

The sections that follow describe how to manage EFS keys. For general information about EFS, read "Encrypting File System in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003" at

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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Disks and File Systems
  2. Overview of Partitioning Disks
  3. How to Choose Between MBR or GPT
  4. Converting from MBR to GPT Disks
  5. GPT Partitions
  6. Choosing Basic or Dynamic Disks
  7. Working with Volumes
  8. How to Create a Simple Volume
  9. How to Create a Spanned Volume
  10. How to Create a Striped Volume
  11. How to Resize a Volume
  12. How to Delete a Volume
  13. How to Create and Use a Virtual Hard Disk
  14. File System Fragmentation
  15. Backup And Restore
  16. How File Backups Work
  17. File and Folder Backup Structure
  18. How System Image Backups Work
  19. How to Start a System Image Backup from the Command Line
  20. How to Restore a System Image Backup
  21. System Image Backup Structure
  22. Best Practices for Computer Backups
  23. How to Manage Backup Using Group Policy Settings
  24. Previous Versions and Shadow Copies
  25. How to Manage Shadow Copies
  26. How to Restore a File with Previous Versions
  27. How to Configure Previous Versions with Group Policy Settings
  28. Windows ReadyBoost
  29. BitLocker Drive Encryption
  30. How BitLocker Encrypts Data
  31. How BitLocker Protects Data
  32. TPM with External Key (Require Startup USB Key At Every Startup)
  33. TPM with PIN (Require PIN At Every Startup)
  34. TPM with PIN and External Key
  35. BitLocker To Go
  36. BitLocker Phases
  37. Requirements for Protecting the System Volume with BitLocker
  38. How to Enable the Use of BitLocker on the System Volume on Computers Without TPM
  39. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on System Volumes
  40. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on Data Volumes
  41. How to Manage BitLocker Keys on a Local Computer
  42. How to Manage BitLocker from the Command Line
  43. How to Recover Data Protected by BitLocker
  44. How to Disable or Remove BitLocker Drive Encryption
  45. How to Decommission a BitLocker Drive Permanently
  46. How to Prepare AD DS for BitLocker
  47. How to Configure a Data Recovery Agent
  48. How to Manage BitLocker with Group Policy
  49. The Costs of BitLocker
  50. Windows 7 Encrypting File System
  51. How to Export Personal Certificates
  52. How to Import Personal Certificates
  53. How to Grant Users Access to an Encrypted File
  54. Symbolic Links
  55. How to Create Symbolic Links
  56. How to Create Relative or Absolute Symbolic Links
  57. How to Create Symbolic Links to Shared Folders
  58. How to Use Hard Links
  59. Disk Quotas
  60. How to Configure Disk Quotas on a Single Computer
  61. How to Configure Disk Quotas from a Command Prompt
  62. How to Configure Disk Quotas by Using Group Policy Settings
  63. Disk Tools
  64. EFSDump
  65. SDelete
  66. Streams
  67. Sync
  68. MoveFile and PendMoves