How can I secure (encrypt, password protect) a portable external hard drive (500GB, NTFS) I use on a couple of different computers (not simultaneously): one computer is my work Windows 7 laptop, the other is my home Windows 10 laptop.

Requirements/considerations are:

1) I can't find Bit Locker on my work laptop, but I do have Symantec Encryption Desktop. I don't have Symantec Encryption Desktop on my home computer though.

2) I want to secure the entire drive, not just a portion of it.

3) I use SyncToy to create backups of my external drive, to another external drive. As SyncToy works on the basis of pairing folders, I guess it is not necessary for the backup drive to be encrypted (or is it?) The backup drive is always in a secure location, so I don't really need it to be encrypted (but don't mind if it is).

4) I'm not necessarily after a "free" solution and happy to pay/subscribe for the right product.

Many thanks in advance!

closed as off-topic by Stephane, Matthew, WhiteWinterWolf, Rory Alsop Jan 20 '16 at 12:37

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  • 1
    Welcome on Security SE. Product recommendation are out-of-topic on this site as such recommendation usually deprecate very quickly. Your request seems well defined though, so you may to make a try on Software Recommendations which is a website dedicated to such recommendations (by the way, my two cents, I did not see any mention of VeraCrypt in your message, you may want to check it). – WhiteWinterWolf Jan 20 '16 at 10:59
  • I would recommend TrueCrypt. Information and download can be found here and it has also been fully audited. Note you'll want to ensure you're using TrueCrypt 7.1a from an official source (such as the one linked above), as that was the version that was audited. The TrueCrypt developers have since given up on the project and released TrueCrypt 7.2 which is a dysfunctional version notifying users of the end of development. – Dan Jan 20 '16 at 14:52
  • Edit: It seems a Google hacker has discovered privilege escalation vulnerabilities in TrueCrypt's Windows driver. I'm still hesitant about the trustworthiness of VeraCrypt, but they did release a bugfix for this nasty bug in their latest version. Now I'm torn, but ultimately the choice is yours. – Dan Jan 20 '16 at 15:29

Your best option with windows is BitLocker and it should be working already with windows 7 but in case you do not have it you can easily download it for free from:


You only need to enable it once and it will work.

From windows 10:

  1. Sign in to Windows with an administrator account.
  2. Go to Start, enter encryption, and select Change device encryption settings from the list of results.
  3. Select Manage BitLocker, select Turn on BitLocker, and then follow the instructions.

There is also available option when you right click the drive click "Turn On BitLocker"

More details form technet: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee424323%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

Edit: Your windows will detect if the hard drive is encrypted with BitLocker and will inform to provide a key. SyncToy will work normally after unlocking the drive.

Edit: based on @WhiteWinterWolf comment Windows 7 - depend on the edition - may not have BitLocker available already or for install. When the external hard drive used with this kind of windows it will install BitLocker to go reader which all the read of data but no adding or editing. In this case the best option if you choose bitlocker is to you windows upgrade anytime feature of windows 7 to get the version that support (paid option).

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