Encryption is a process to protect data by using sophisticated mathematical functions. Data is scrambled when written to the drive. This data is then not readable by an unauthorised person. When data is read back from the drive by an authorised person it is then converted back into readable data. Usually authorisation is provided by a password of some sort.
When using encryption, there are few things to watch out for
- If you forget your password, you will be locked out of your own data. Be careful.
- If your hard drive starts failing you could lose access to all your data.
- You need regular backups if using encryption, as it is usually uncrackable.
- Data is encrypted when the computer is off, but if someone accesses the disk while powered on they can access the data the same way you can.
Ideally, if you plan to use encryption try to speak to somebody knowledgeable about the system you have. The way a Mac handles things is very different to the way Windows does, which is different again to the third party options.