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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 22: Encrypt Your Entire Windows Operating System

Level Advanced

Platform Windows

Cost Free

Encrypting groups of sensitive files is a good start, but if you have a lot of sensitive material on your PC and don’t want to hassle with picking and choosing which belong in your encrypted volume and which don’t, you can use TrueCrypt to encrypt your entire system drive so that every file on your computer is encrypted by default.

Set Up Your Encrypted Operating System

Encrypting your entire system drive is similar to creating an encrypted volume. Here’s how it works:

1. Download TrueCrypt from http://truecrypt.org. Install and launch it.

2. Click the Create Volume button to launch a wizard that prepares the encrypted drive location. Choose Encrypt the System Partition or Entire System Drive; click Next. Select Normal as your type of system encryption and again click Next.

3. On the Area to Encrypt dialog, select Encrypt the Whole Drive unless you’ve partitioned your drive and want to encrypt only a specific partition (in which case you’d choose Encrypt the Windows System Partition). Click Next.

4. You’ll now be prompted to select whether to encrypt the Host Protected Area. The safest answer is No because you’ll rarely find sensitive data on a computer’s Host Protected Area; if you select Yes and your computer needs access to the Host Protected Area on boot, you may run into problems. I’d recommend choosing No. Click Next.

5. Choose the number of operating systems installed on your ...

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