What is Drive Encryption?
- Drive encryption scrambles your files so that noone else can read them - except the person with the password or recovery key.
- This is usually done transparently. You use your computer normally, your files will be encrypted and protected.
- Drive encryption is not supported by all operating systems or computer hardware.
Pros of Using Encryption
- Protect your files in case your device is lost or stolen. The theif will not be able to read your files, keeping your info safe.
- Protects against some kinds of malware
Cons of Using Encryption
- If you lose your password and/or recovery key, you lose access to all of the files on your drive.
- Your device may run marginally slower.
- If you're using drive encryption, also keep a backup of your files either on Ondrive or dropbox, or on a device you keep unencrypted and stored in a very safe place (like a safe). You should be doing this anyway - it's best practice to keep a copy of your important data in at least 3 separate places.
- Keep your recovery key in a safe place too, or make it something very memorable that someone is unlikely to be able to guess.
- Windows 10's Bitlocker Drive Encryption is only available in the Professional version of the operating system, and is not included in the Home version.
- If you are using Windows 10 Home wish to use drive encryption, you'll need to upgrade your version of Windows
- In typical Microsoft fashion, they do not provice a simple tutorial on how to use this feature. PCWorld have put together a good article on Bitlocker, including a tutorial, linked below.
- Article: A beginner's guide to BitLocker, Windows' built-in encryption tool
If this seems like too much to deal with, consider hiring a tech support provider who can encrypt your systems, and manage recovery options for you. It protects your files and gives you peace of mind at a reasonable cost. Losing your data could result in identity theft, loss of privacy, and loss of important memories, photos, and correspondence.