Windows hard disk encryption software

Dominic
Dominic used Ask the Experts™
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Hi - I have a client that travels a lot with her laptop and has sensitive data on it.
I suggested that we encrypt the hard disk so that the data is protected should it fall into the wrong hands.
The problem is that she is running Windows 7 Pro and therefore does not have Bitlocker on there. I am only familiar with the latter program when encrypting, so i wondered which software , preferably free (if reliable) otherwise paid, would you suggest.

Thanks
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Unless there is a reason for Windows 7, she may was well upgrade to Windows 10 and get the version with Bitlocker.

Up-to-date, integrated and ready to go!

Otherwise, look at these https://www.thewindowsclub.com/best-hard-drive-encryption-software-windows (some support Windows 7) or a discussion here https://www.experts-exchange.com/questions/29011122/Hard-Disk-Encryption-Recommendation.html
AlexSenior Infrastructure Analyst

Commented:
As for the above comment, not really answering the question that's been posed. Upgrading to window 10 can be annoying, time consuming and can fail.

Diskcryptor will encrypt the entire disk for you and give you an encrypted boot-loader.
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
If you want bitlocker but don't want win10, you could upgrade to win7 ultimate. You can still find ultimate licenses on ebay.
Else, disk cryptor will work, yes, or veracrypt, if you need something for free.
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AlexSenior Infrastructure Analyst

Commented:
Veracrypt is pretty good, you have bestcrypt as well which is pretty ok, essentially they all do the same thing, use the same algorithms, it's just down to the functionality.

I quite like Diskcryptor because of it's extremely simple solution to a rather complex issue. Essentially it'll encrypt everything to a very good level but as for recovery, just hope your hard drive doesn't fall apart :-)
Distinguished Expert 2017
Commented:
What are you looking to do, work with what the person has, EFS is available without bitlocker.

The EFS certificate would need to be exported just in case......

A password reset will render the data inaccessible until the exported certificate is reloaded/imported.
DominicIT Consultant

Author

Commented:
When it comes to recovery (if that should happen), at what stage does the private key come into play , does that not get used at some stage in order to decrypt the data? I am just not sure how and when this happens in a recovery/restore/re-install instance. Most of the data is on the Cloud anyway and not encrypted but i am curious to know how it works for data that only exists on the drive.

Thanks for comments so far by the way
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
if you remove the disk and attach it to another system, the EFS certificate (including the private key) is needed to decrypt the data.

i.e. open the mmc, certificates, user
under my personal certificates there will be an EFS certificate, you would need to export it with the private key, set password. store it in a safe place (remember the password)

It is somewhat similar to bitlocker, though it protects the entire Drive/access and has its own recovery process......
Bagaudin SatuevGlobal Community Evangelist

Commented:
If I were in your shoes, I'd just encrypt entire OS (machine) with VeraCrypt - https://www.veracrypt.fr/en/System%20Encryption.html

The decryption key will have to be entered every time she reboots the machine but will ensure that her data is safe if the laptop is stolen.
 
One important note: many countries are having strict laws in regards to cryptography import/encrypted devices so she must at least be ready to decrypt the device at the border post should the authorities ask for it, or the device can be held at the customs for months as well as other legal complications may arise (depending on the exact country of travel).

See this article for example - https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/15/14629022/border-search-customs-data-privacy-encryption
btanExec Consultant
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Also second VeraCrypt for FDE. But if you are looking at file folder encrypt, can consider AxCrypt.
Actually if the data is not too huge, or selected sensitive data, you may want to consider storing inside an encrypted USB drive and she can keep it safe with her. Esp handy if foreign country demand check in of her notebook.  
Just a quick thought https://recoverit.wondershare.com/flashdrive-recovery/top-10-encrypted-usb-flash-drives.html
Alex - "As for the above comment, not really answering the question that's been posed. Upgrading to window 10 can be annoying, time consuming and can fail." agreed but they didn't say Windows 10 was out of the question.

They are already 2 OS's behind and getting current, especially being mobile would get them in a better position going forward.

McKnife's answer is a good compromise; same OS, BitLocker is available.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
DominicIT Consultant

Author

Commented:
Thanks all for comprehensive tips

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