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Is there a way to force google drive to erase all files + passwords contained on a computer at shutdown (as a proactive measure)? Or this could be accomplished by a standard script to delete all cache files at shutdown. In this case, a lost laptop may be severed from the the account's list of allowed devices, and the data can be preserved reliably. This inconvenience may seem trivial compared to true ownership of data. The need to newly enter passwords or stream files can be offset by peace of mind. Furthermore, these additional operations would need only occur once per use / session.

This would help who doesn't have time for a drive encryption project. Yet this thread concludes the only certain defense against data theft is encryption, but why not

--> have a laptop akin to a library computer <--

It might take 5 min at boot to download all the essential files via wifi. Has anyone taken this approach to securing their laptop / mobile device?

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... who doesn't have time for a drive encryption project

Given that most modern systems support drive encryption out of the box or this can easily added, this arguments sounds weak to me.

Apart from that the proposed protection only helps if the system is actually shutdown properly and all shutdown routines execute and finish successfully. Given the fragility of software and how many small things are regularly broken with the software updates in Windows I would not have trust that this deletion process always gets finished.

Encrypted volumes provide way more peace of mind here: all what needs to be deleted/forgotten to stop access is the key and it is implicitly erased from memory when the system is (really) off because the memory is off-power. It also provides more security by being more comfortable to use: If every time all the files need to be downloaded and wait several minutes to do this, there is an incentive to not actually shutdown the computer and only suspend it, so that one can more quickly continue work when opening the laptop.

Given that file encryption can easily and cheap be done, is more comfortable and is more reliable than the proposed solution, I doubt that there are serious efforts to implement this idea and also make it sufficiently robust so that it actually can be relied on for practical use.

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