I recently replaced my laptop and decided to encrypt the hard drive. I use Absolute Computrace for system recovery if lost or stolen, but this does not protect the data. Security experts recommend using encryption with recovery tools. The point of this is that if the hard drive is removed from the system with the recovery tool installed, the data can be accessed without activation the recovery features when reported missing.
After checking out several proposals for enterprise encryption packages, I remembered I had used TrueCrypt to encrypt a thumb drive. It worked great for that purpose so I gave it a shot on my new laptop.
Version 6.2a download is very quick (3.04MB) for Windows Vista/XP/2000. There are also options for Mac OS X and OpenSUSE and Ubuntu Linux distros. As with most open source tools, source code is easily obtained from the website as well.
Installation was painless and I was quickly ready for encryption. There are a couple of options at this point: encrypt entire drive including system partions, etc. or create and encrypted folder on the drive for critical data. This option will show a file on the directory listing that cannot be accessed without the password key that you generate. (NOTE: without the key (or Rescue Disk) the company website claims that there is no way to access data.) For key generation, I used a random tool I found on a Google search. Link is at the bottom. I created a recommended twenty character key. I chose to encrypt the entire hard drive. I followed all of the instructions, including backing up my few data files and proceeded with encryption. This took approximately five hours for a 160GB drive that is 30% full. Make sure you have plenty of power available and don’t need to use the system. Power failure during encryption will lead to data loss. The encryption completed, I rebooted, entered my key and XP loaded right up.
So far I have noticed two performance hits; system hibernate, XP completely locked up on recovery and I had to power cycle. I had the same issue copying 30GB of data to the laptop from a network share. Twice XP completely locked up. Other than that, normal operations seems to be fine.
So once again, an open source tool fits the need!