I have a 4 TB external hard disk with 200 GB files on it. I started the encryption process with Bitlocker, but it is taking too long.

Can I pause the encryption process, move the 200 GB from the drive to empty it and then resume the encryption process? Will the encryption process, the drive or the files on the drive be damaged when I do this?

  • BitLocker in Windows 8 and later offers a mode to only encrypt the area occupied by files. If you don't care about the free space on the drive that may contain previously deleted files or fragmented copies of current files that have been relocated, then you can use that mode to save you some time. – billc.cn Jan 3 '18 at 14:31

It is not just data we need to think about - but also the file system and the metadata associated with the files as well as the file system.

If ( a big IF ) we can determine for sure that BitLocker has only encrypted the free space so far (skipping all else), then the question you asked becomes at least a theoretical possibility (still depends on how BitLocker code is written - whether it detects changes to disk after it starts encryption, and how it handles such changes).

In general, file system data is not only stored at the beginning but also some redundant copies are stored in other places.

We must assume that BitLocker has already encrypted such metadata - and any changes you make to the file system (such as deleting files) changes the already encrypted data (including free blocks, number of files, directories, etc).

So my answer is NO. You're much better off stopping the encryption altogether; doing whatever housekeeping you want to do and then restarting afresh.

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No, removing the files will not help, because the encryption process probably started with the files, since they are written starting with the highest disk speed area.

The process is slow because the drive is probably connected via USB2.

The only thing you can do to speed up the process is not to access the disk at all while it happens.

The process will take nearly the same with or without files if it's a full disk encryption.

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