| By Fred Langa |
Why let data thieves mine your personal files and backups when you can encrypt them quickly and simply — without spending a dime?
Free, high-quality, disk-encryption tools make all your files and backups totally unreadable by anyone — except you!
When your backup’s stolen, your data’s exposed
Sam Stamport had a nightmarish problem:
- “I was the unfortunate victim of a burglary a few days ago. Fortunately, I wasn’t home when it happened, so I’m OK. But a portable hard drive with my backup data on it was stolen. The computer itself was not stolen, thank goodness! The police said the thief probably saw the portable hard drive and thought it was an iPod.
“I got to thinking about how to protect my private data on a portable hard drive and how to protect the data on my computer’s hard drive. I know I can set a login password in Vista, but are there other steps one can take if a computer or portable hard drive is stolen, to prevent thieves from accessing data on the hard drives?”
Most PCs and laptops also let you set a power-on password as a BIOS setup option. This is a hardware password that’s active the moment the PC wakes up, before Windows — or any other OS — even starts to boot. Check your owner’s documentation for the way to do this on your system.
However, a thief could bypass the boot-up password by removing your PC’s hard drive from its enclosure and installing it into another system. For maximum security, you need to encrypt your files. There are two simple ways to do this, and a near-infinitude of more-complex ways.