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."

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