Online threats and vulnerabilities exist everywhere, so it is necessary to shield your devices against such security breaches. Our devices are treasure troves of files and data for cybercriminals to endeavor. Laptops and smartphones being the easily targeted device most likely end up in the wrong hands.
This is exactly why security experts mention that data encryption is a basic step that everyone should adopt. Encryption upgrades security by keeping your data in an unreadable form that can only be decoded by an encryption key.
Your PC can not automatically encrypt any data or files, but there are numerous encryption options you can access. This includes encrypting complete hard drive, specific files and folders, and even BIOS so that no one gets access to the operating system on your hard drive.
When You Should Encrypt Hard Drive
We store our important data in our PC such as personal information, credit cards, financial information, or other kinds of data. Thus, encryption is essential to secure your information.
A single encrypted file or folder is adequate for vast majority of users, however a totally encoded drive provides the strongest security. Windows can leave bits of encoded folder in places such as the swap file. A cybercriminal or well-funded hacker would not take much time to find them.
But such level of security comes at a cost. Encoding the entire drive can block your PC. You must create a backup first and ensure that you have emergency repair drives for both encryption application and hard drive.
A backup helps you to successfully recover lost files during a hard drive crash. Even a Windows re-installation cannot let you access the encrypted hard drive if you didn’t take precautions earlier.
How to Encrypt
Device encryption is automatically enabled in Windows 10 and above. To check if device encryption is enabled, go to settings > system > about and search for “Device Encryption” at the bottom of about pane. If you don’t see anything related to Device Encryption, it clearly states that your computer doesn’t support Device Encryption or it is not enabled. If encryption is enabled, you need to have a Microsoft account to finish the encrypting process.
If Device Encryption is not enabled – or if you need A more powerful encryption technology that can also encrypt removable USB drives, for example – you can use BitLocker. Keep in mind that Microsoft still restricts BitLocker to Professional, Enterprise, and Education edition of Windows 10. If you have a Professional edition of Windows 10 OS, you can search for “BitLocker” in the Start menu and use the BitLocker control panel to enable it to encrypt your hard drive.
- Go to Control Panel
- Select System and Security
- Click the BitLocker Drive Encryption (in Windows 8, you can search BitLocker)
- In the BitLocker menu, turn on BitLocker next to the drive(s) you wish to encrypt
- Remember to keep your recovery key and password safe
Note: This method is for Windows Vista or later. In previous versions of Windows, BitLocker was not a built-in option. However, if you do not have BitLocker you can download it.
Once your hard drive is encrypted, simply operate your computer as normal.
Schedule regular backups to prevent unnecessary time recovering encrypted data.
Generate a strong encryption key to keep your PC secure from wrong people.