How to Encrypt a Hard Drive

by Gwen Wark

With an incredible amount of personal and business data being stored on a computer's hard drive, security is a prime concern for both private individuals and businesses. Hard disk encryption may place a drain on a computer's performance, but the ensured security of sensitive data may be worth the inconvenience. While Windows has a built in file encryption system that can encode individual files, users may wish to encrypt the entire hard disk for additional security. With a free piece of downloaded software, it is easy to encrypt your entire drive.

Go to the TrueCrypt website (see Resources) and download the latest version of the encryption software

Open TrueCrypt and select "Create A New Volume," then choose "Create a Standard TrueCrypt Volume."

Choose a file location. Click on "Select File," navigate to where the file is to be stored, and type a new name for the file.

Choose your encryption options by selecting an encryption algorithm from the drop-down menu.

Enter the volume size in the box on the "Volume Size" screen. This determines how much of your disk is devoted to the encrypted data.

Choose a volume password and enter it into the "Volume Password" screen.

Choose the volume format of the drive, then click "Format." Click on "Exit" to return to the program screen.

On the "Drive List," select a letter and click the "Mount" button. You will be asked to enter the password that you created in Step 6. Once you have entered your password, you may now use the computer normally. Your data is now being encrypted.

Tip

  • check TrueCrypt also works on external hard disks and USB Flash drives. Your choice of algorithm will effect your computer's speed and performance. A strong password contains a variety of letters and numbers and is case-sensitive. As TrueCrypt creates a virtual drive, the program must be started and the password entered each time the computer is turned on.

About the Author

Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.