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To Encrypt or Not to Encrypt?

Encrypting data on your home PC may seem like simply too much security…that is until it becomes time to throw that computer away.  Most people do not realize that their hard drive retains all of their personal information even though they disposed of the computer years ago.  Would it worry you if that one hard drive was in someone else's hands?

If you said yes, then why not encrypt?  We know that the contents of your hard drive can be read by someone else when unencrypted.  Slip the drive out of the case, plug it into another PC and voila!  Now your old drive has popped up on the "dumpster diver's" PC.

Dumpster divers have a more difficult time getting to your information when encryption is involved.  Since today's operating systems have drive encryption built in, it makes it even easier to set up than in years past.  Here are a couple of relevant links:
Windows 7: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Encrypt-or-decrypt-a-folder-or-file
Windows XP: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308989

Once encryption is set up in Windows, other users can no longer open the encrypted files.  Take the hard drive to another machine and the files are scrambled and cannot be read.  Encrypting your drive contents is one of many simple things you can do to protect your data.

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