How to Encrypt a Hard Drive

Encrypt a hard drive
Hard drives and USB flash drives are treasure troves of personal data. They're also among the most common sources of data leaks. If you lose a flash drive, external hard drive, or laptop containing sensitive personal information, you will be at risk. Fortunately, en­­crypting your hard drive can give your data an extra layer of protection be­­yond setting up a system password. Encryption will conceal your drive's data and make accessing the files almost im­­possible for anyone who does not know your encryption password.

Encrypt a hard drive
LaCie’s Rugged Safe hard drive has a fingerprint reader that you can use to unlock your data securely.
The Ultimate and Business editions of Windows 7 and Vista come with BitLocker, a tool that lets you encrypt your entire hard drive. If you don't have the Ultimate or Business version, another alternative is to use TrueCrypt, a free, open-source tool that can encrypt your entire disk, a portion of a disk, or an external drive. For its part, Mac OS X includes FileVault, a tool for encrypting your Mac's home folder; Lion, the next major Mac OS X release on the horizon, will be able to encrypt a whole hard drive.

Another option is to buy external hard drives and flash drives equipped with en­­cryption tools. Some of these drives have built-in fingerprint readers for additional security. For more about secure flash-drive options, see "Secure Flash Drives Lock Down Your Data."

Shop ▾
arrow up Amazon Shop buttons are programmatically attached to all reviews, regardless of products' final review scores. Our parent company, IDG, receives advertisement revenue for shopping activity generated by the links. Because the buttons are attached programmatically, they should not be interpreted as editorial endorsements.

Subscribe to the Security Watch Newsletter