Full Disk Encryption?

I will be traveling from the Middle East to the US next month. Currently, my travel arrangements don’t require me to put my laptop in checked baggage, but that could change if DHS decides to ban laptops in carry-ons from Europe as well as the M.E. In case I do end up having to check my laptop, I want to do a Full Disk Encryption, to protect my personal info residing on the HDD (removing the HDD in order to hand-carry it requires extensive disassembly of this particular laptop, so that’s not really an option here).

Any Straight Dope on pulling this off on a Windows 7 Home install? I do know to backup to my external HDD before attempting anything, and I am fairly computer literate. My deadline is May 31.

Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, comes with BitLocker.

Don’t bring your laptop would be my choice, unless it’s a work laptop, in which your company should provide this service for you.

This, is where something like a Chromebook comes in handy. I have a cheap one for personal things and all my stuff is in the cloud. It matters not what happens to it in regards to data loss. Another option is a “burner” laptop in which you wipe it clean before you leave with just the essential programs, and wipe it clean when you get back.

Several years ago I had a serious scare in which my laptop HDD (platter) died on me. This was terrible as it happened while I was finishing my degree and I was 2/3 the way through the semester. Through emails, saved draft copies of Google Docs in Google, and thumb drives, I was able to bring all but a few days worth of data back in regards to school work. Whew. After that, I bought a Synology NAS with 4TB storage where everything syncs too, and that, uses Amazon to back up to each night. I use the HDD for launching programs and temporarily storing data until I get home and then the Folders sync.

Or, upgrade to Windows 10 Pro as stated above… but in the USA, I’m sure they can get through.

Not an option; Dell says my laptop doesn’t meet the min hardware standards for Win10. I also don’t have the bandwidth or connection stability for a d/l that large without a significant risk of it timing out or getting corrupted.

Again, not an option. Too much personal info on it to leave it unattended for a month in my apartment in the M.E. while I’m home on vacation in the US.

Or win7 Ultimate upgrade. Harder to find, easier to handle: your choice.

Win7 Pro provides file system encryption, which would seem to be also suitable for your use case.

Veracrypt is a free alternative. https://veracrypt.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=Downloads

VeraCrypt is a fork of the discontinued TrueCrypt project. I continue to use TrueCrypt because the last version remains safe and viable.

Which Dell do you have? I am surprised that a Dell that is running Win 7 can’t run Win 10, but I am no expert.

If you have enough drive space to create an encrypted partition or even file, then the last secure build of TrueCrypt would be a suitable option.

You could check Wikipedia’s comparison of disk encryption software. Veracrypt is probably a good choice.

Can Veracrypt do full disk encryption yet? When my wife got a Win10 laptop a while ago, Veracrypt didn’t do FDE then. On her previous computer we had done that with TrueCrypt and Windows Vista.

How many GB of personal data do you have? One option would be to transfer all your personal data to a thumb drive then erase the personal data on the laptop: they have them up to 1 TB capacity (although most are smaller). There should be no problem carrying the thumb drive in your pocket.

I haven’t used it, but the Vera website says it does.

You’re travelling from the ME to the US? I initially scanned it the other way around. Just don’t bother with encryption.

Dell Inspiron N4010. I have an active account on the Dell website since I’ve bought multiple computers from them since '02, and all their Service Tags are registered. Dell’s info for this machine says it’s not capable of running Win10. Maybe that’s just their way of trying to get me to buy a new laptop… or maybe this 2010-vintage machine truly isn’t capable. I don’t know, and I’m not spending money for Win10 to find out the hard way. I’m hoping to get a new laptop later this year anyway, so I’m not looking to spend big $$ on this one.

I actually have the last “known good” TrueCrypt build (7.1a) sitting on my external HDD, I’ve just never messed with it. Maybe it’s time…

Yes, American citizen traveling commercially from the ME to the US, then back again after my vacation is over.
If my laptop ends up having to go in my checked baggage (which the media is suggesting the US DHS is going to announce very soon), I will no longer have positive control over it. I’m not taking the chance that it could be stolen from my baggage, the drive mined for personal info, and have my life turned upside-down via identity theft. Yes, that’s a little paranoid… but I’ve seen what identity theft can do to someone’s life, and I’ve had stuff disappear from checked bags before, even with TSA locks on them.