Q

A quick look at BitLocker installation requirements

A basic BitLocker installation doesn't require any unusual steps, but deploying it on Windows Server 2012 comes with a few caveats.

Are there any server hardware requirements when deploying BitLocker on a Windows Server 2012 system? Do I need to use a server with a trusted platform module?

There are no exotic or unusual hardware or software requirements for a basic BitLocker installation and deployment. The server must meet the minimum requirements needed to support Windows Server 2012; however, there are several hardware wrinkles that could happen.

First, consider using a server with a trusted platform module (TPM) version 1.2 or 2.0. A TPM is not required to install and use BitLocker. However, a TPM is needed to ensure system integrity at startup and to tie BitLocker local disks to their specific physical server. This prevents encrypted disks from being installed in other systems.

Second, evaluate the server's BIOS features. Systems with a TPM will need a compliant firmware. If the BIOS is not intended for TPM, it must support the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard. The BIOS must also boot from the hard drive first instead of external drives like USB or optical disks. Still, the BIOS should read USB flash drives during boot just in case you need an emergency encryption to recover lost or corrupted credentials.

And finally, an encrypted drive must provide two partitions -- one FAT32 or NTFS partition for the operating system and another 350 MB active NTFS partition (or larger) -- for a system drive for a BitLocker installation. Hardware encrypted drives are supported, but they must be installed with the onboard security features turned off. The separate partitions are needed to perform a system-integrity check during boot. The system drive often includes other data, such as recovery information and other tools.

This was first published in March 2013
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