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I'm planning to buy an external HDD with hardware encryption, namingly the WD My Passport Ultra 2TB. On the WD website the information about the encryption is sadly scarce so I'm asking here.

  • How secure are these encryption implementations in general (I think the above mentioned model uitilizes AES-256)
  • How inter-OS friendly is the en/decryption and the subsequent accessing of the data (Windows, Linux/Unix and possibly MacOS) ?
  • Is the unallocated/empty space on the disk encrypted as well, or just the sectors where data is allocated?
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On software encryption vs hardware encryption, read this comparison on Kingston's website, and your choice may be easy, but this is marketing language.

I'm quite sure that Open Source software encryption like GPG is more secure. See this question: Is hardware based disk encryption more secure that software based?.

The basic question is: from who do you want to be protected? The NSA? Hardware will not work. They can probably read the encryption key from the chip. Software will not be safe without a good and long password. However, when the disk is stolen, most people will just erase it, and in that case it will protect you good enough.

If one of your friends wants to copy your data, he has probably better ways to get there, like installing a rootkit or something.

The WD disk seems to be OS friendly. See this review.

  • I'm aware that - if someone would want my data - there are enough other possibilities to get them. I want to encrypt my HDDs, to ensure if the drive falls in to the wrong hands, at least the data is safe.. thanks for the links.. I couldn't find a review about linux in the newegg link though.. – Daedalus Mythos Oct 16 '14 at 6:54
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    ubuntuforums.org/… and community.wd.com/t5/WD-TV-Ideas/… so no it doesn't work unless via a Virtualbox hack that is not practical for everyday use. – SPRBRN Oct 16 '14 at 7:32

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