How To Encrypt Your Hard Drive? – Encryption Software 2017

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A technique such as encryption is getting so much attention and immense positive response due to the hindrance it has created for the unwanted intrusions. Whether it is your PC, Hard drive or flash drive, all these belongings with your sensitive data could be protected through encryption and that is what makes it popular among all individuals. Hard drive encryption is a similar recommendation for you to enhance your data safety.

What is meant by Hard Drive Encryption?

Hard drive encryption is simply an implementation of regular encryption methods to a drive to enhance its protection. Through such encrypting procedure, the data stored in the hard drive is converted into a secure unreadable coded form.

Drive encrypting software makes it impossible for any unauthorized entity to access your encrypted data without the appropriate password.

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These drive encryption software are divided into three main categories: software-based, hardware-based within the storage device, and hardware-based elsewhere. To achieve this level of protection on your device, you need to spend some dollars to get a high-end protection. Full disk encryption has several benefits as compared to a regular file or folder encryption or encrypted vaults.

Why You need Hard Drive Encryption?

Before you opt to encrypt the whole Drive on your system you must know how it benefits you and why you need an internal hard drive or portable hard drive encryption.

  • Almost all the files on the system including the swap space and the temporary files are encrypted. This is very important because such files are prone to reveal some important and confidential data.
  • When you have encrypted the whole drive then you don’t need to worry about any file or folder that is confidential and left unencrypted or you might forget some files to be encrypted etc. The Whole internal or portable hard drive encryption mechanism ensures entire drive protection with just a password or encryption key.
  • If you lose your system due to any unwelcome or sudden reasons like theft or machine failure then your saved files are not accessible by anyone even after it is repaired. Therefore, even if you trash your system you don’t need to worry about the sensitive data you have stored in the system.

Methods of Drive Encryption

Internal or USB hard drive encryption can be done by various software and there are many tools in the market. Whenever a file is written and stored on the drive, it is automatically encrypted by a specialized software. However, when a file is read from the drive, the software automatically decrypts that file while rest of the data remains encrypted.

The encryption and decryption processes are same for all common applications. In many versions of Windows, for example, Windows 10 has device encryption feature enabled which runs normally in the background without letting the users even know, but it requires a specific hardware to enable and just requires an encryption password key to access the whole system and its data.

Hard Drive Encryption on Windows 10

Windows 10 has a complicated mechanism of encryption, like its previous versions Windows 10 doesn’t have the encryption capability in its “Core” or “Home” editions. If you need to integrate internal or portable hard drive encryption in Windows 10 you need to pay for the “Enterprise” or “Professional” versions of Windows 10 or simply use a third-party encryption solution.

Drive Encryption feature is auto-enabled by Microsoft in some of the latest Windows 10 editions which makes sure that you are login to your Windows by Microsoft account. This is because it only actually encrypts your drive if you sign into Windows with a Microsoft account. Your recovery key or password is then uploaded to Microsoft’s cloud servers. This will help you recover your data if you lose access to your PC. To check whether it is enabled on your device or not you have to perform some simple steps:

  • Open the “Settings” app in Windows 10 and navigate to “System”.ximg_5654d5da91fde-png-pagespeed-gpjpjwpjjsrjrprwricpmd-ic-bfu8yte8k0See the About page and look for a “Device encryption’’ setting below the window.
  • If you don’t see any device encryption option, then your system doesn’t support Device Encryption feature. There are more chances that, you may not have BitLocker feature as well.So if you don’t meet either of the above-mentioned requirements then you can spend some dollars to get a third-party software to achieve drive encryption on your system.

    Hard Drive Encryption by BitLocker

    If your Windows version does have BitLocker as a built-in feature then you can protect your drive by the following steps:

    Windows 7

    • Go to Control Panel of Windows 7
    • Choose System and Security
    • BitLocker Drive Encryption
    • Or just right click on the device and select Turn on BitLocker
    • Setup your password to encrypt the hard drive

computer

Windows 10

  • Go to “Setting” app
  • Select “System” option
  • Go to “About” pane
  • Select ‘’Bitlocker settings’’ to enable this feature.
  • Select the password to encrypt your hard drive.

bitlocker-setting

Portable Hard Drive Encryption

We all love to have a portable data storage device because of its convenience and portability. However, it can also be a disadvantage if we lose our external portable drive (USB flash drive) which is very common and can also be stolen easily creating immense panic among the victims.

Therefore, you should always be prepared even for the worst case and learn how to encrypt data on external and portable hard drive. You need an encryption software to encrypt files on USB flash drive. Below we have discussed some of the top encryption tools which are also used for external drive encryption.

Best Hard Drive Encryption Software

Veracrypt (Windows, OS X, Linux)

If you are looking for a free and most popular successor of Truecrypt then Veracrypt is the right choice for you. VeraCrypt supports AES encryption, TwoFish, and Serpent encryption ciphers support the creation of hidden, encrypted volumes within other volumes.

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AxCrypt (Windows)

AxCrypt is a free, simple, efficient and easy-to-use software which is an open source, GNU GPL-licensed encryption tool for Windows. Encrypting a file or a whole folder is very simple with AxCrypt. You just need one right click and can select files or folders to be encrypted.

You can also schedule a limited time encryption of some certain files or folder by using the “timed’’ feature of it. Also a duration could be set and after the duration expires it will be decrypted itself. It provides so much ease with files remaining decrypted while they are in use and becomes auto-encrypted when stop using. It supports 128-bit AES encryption only.

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DiskCryptor (Windows)

Diskcryptor is an open-source program and it supports windows Servers, Desktop, and Laptops alike. It supports 256-bit encryption and complex system configurations like RAID.

diskencryptor

GNU Privacy Guard (Windows/OS X/Linux)

GNU Privacy Guard is an open source encryption software which supports multiple encryption types and ciphers. It is generally capable of encrypting individual files one at a time, disk images, and volumes, or external drives and connected media.

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7-Zip (Windows/OS X/Linux)

7-Zip is a lightweight and easy to use file archive software for Windows. It’s completely free, even for commercial use, supports 256-bit AES encryption and needs just a click to encrypt multiple files with the encryption key.

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Hard Drive Encryption on Mac OS X

Follow these simple steps to encrypt the drive on your Mac OS X and enhance your data protection level;

  • Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  • Now click the Security & Privacy icon in the System Preferences window.
  • Then click the FileVault tab and click the lock icon and enter an administrator name and password.
  • Now click the Turn On FileVault button and don’t forget to keep your recovery key and password safe.

apple-menu

Conclusion

Encryption has now become a successful method to protect you from many potential threats and risks. It is an effective way to enhance data safety and to keep it away from the access of data snoopers who are always in search of your personal data. Therefore, always make sure that your devices are encrypted so that they couldn’t be negatively used if lost or stolen.

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Peter Buttler an Infosec Journalist and Tech Reporter, Member of IDG Network. In 2011, he completed Masters in Cybersecurity and technology. He worked for leading security and tech giants as Staff Writer. Currently, he contributes to a number of online publications, including The Next Web, CSO Online, Infosecurity Mag, SC Magazine, Tripwire, GlobalSign CSO Australia, etc. His favorite areas Online Privacy, AI, IoT, VR, Blockchain, Big Data, ML, Fintech, etc. You can follow him on twitter.

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