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Earlier Windows versions had EFS (Encrypting File System), which was a bit infamous for eating user data in the hands of inexperienced users. The reason is that EFS is tied to the Windows user account. Thus if the Windows installation is lost, then a EFS formatted external or secondary drive can often not be read anymore.

Windows 8 introduces "Bitlocker to Go", a variant of the updated Bitlocker encryption in Windows 8, intended for removable drives.

'Regular' Bitlocker is usually tied to the computer somehow -- either to a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, or to a USB key with a certificate on it, or to a Smartcard.

Is Bitlocker to Go tied to the computer or Windows account in any way, or is the encryption exclusively derived from the Bitlocker to Go volume password? In other words, if the original host Windows installation crashes and is lost, can a Bitlocker to Go drive then reliably be unlocked on another Windows 8 installation, given that the volume password is known?

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Its neither. Bitlock to GO is exactly like Bitlocker which is NOT EFS. Windows 7 also had this feature I use it on my portable hdds. –  Ramhound Feb 4 '13 at 12:05
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With BitLocker To Go, you can decrypt it from Windows XP till Windows 8 with just password.

Please note that For XP and Vista you need to install BitLocker To Go Reader which will give you the ability to READ ONLY the contents. If you try to access the Bitlocker drive under other OS, it will be unreadable (ask you to format the drive)

The recovery key is not a necessity to decrypt the content. However, it can be used for decrypting the drive when you forgot your password.

For Windows XP and Vista you can download Bitlocker To Go Reader here http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=24303

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Yes, a Bitlocker to Go drive can be unlocked reliably, since in every creation of Bitlocker to Go you'll be asked to backup the recovery key (a file). If saved, you should be able to unlock the drive on any Windows since XP http://support.microsoft.com/kb/970401 And about the EFS, actually Windows Vista and above will nag you to backup the certificate for recovering EFS files when any file is encrypted.

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