How To Encrypt Your Hard Drive Easy Guide to Follow

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A technique such as encryption is getting so much attention and tremendous 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 Hard Drive Encryption?

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

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

This drive encryption software is 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 high-end protection. Full disk encryption has several benefits as compared to a regular file or folder encryption or encrypted vaults.

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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 records 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 data to be encrypted, etc. The Whole internal or portable hard drive encryption mechanism ensures complete 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 the same for all typical applications. In many versions of Windows, for example, Windows 10 has device encryption feature enabled which usually runs in the background without letting the users even know, but it requires specific hardware to activate and requires an encryption password key to access the whole system and its data.

Full Hard Drive Encryption

The entire encryption of your hard drive is most appropriate and useful way to encrypt your hard drive. This method is most recommended because it protects you against an unwanted risk that could occur due to human errors such as forgetting to encrypt a particular file.

Along with this, the complete hard drive encryption makes sure to encrypt temporary files and swipe space. That means everything on the hard drive remains safe and secure. Yet, a bit negative impact is that the full hard drive encryption makes your system processing slow. However, due to the advent of modern processors, this is not an issue anymore. Therefore, we have described the easy ways to encrypt your entire hard drive.

Encrypting Certain Files and Folders of Hard Drive

If you are unwilling to have full hard drive encryption, then there is another option for encrypting individual files only. This kind of encryption might have a less impact on the performance of your system, but it is a bit complicated process. While encrypting only specific files or folders on your hard drive, you need more time to figure out important data that should be protected.

However, there are few ways to encrypt individual files and folders;

  • The users of Microsoft Office can encrypt, and password protects the files on their system. Yet, the level of encryption become more advanced with the upgraded version of the official program.
  • The method of encryption is straightforward on Windows using the encrypting file system. Right-click a particular folder or file you want to encrypt, click properties and then click Advanced.
  • On Mac, Disk Utility could be used to encrypt single files and folders.

Lock BIOS via Password 

To encrypt the hard drive, there is another option to lock the BIOS (primary input-output system). You could implement specific settings for computer’s hardware and could even control the loading of the computer system through the BIOS system.

If you secure the hard drive with a password in BIOS, then the hard drive will remain locked even when the drive is entered into a new PC other than the present one. Just the password code could unlock the hard drive and it is needed every time you switch on the drive.

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 only 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 in to 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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Zehra Ali is a Tech Reporter and Journalist. She has done her Masters in Mass Communication. Topics related to cybersecurity, IoT, AI, Big Data and other privacy matters are extensively covered by her on various platforms. You can follow her on twitter.

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