Encrypting the Windows System Disk - good idea or not?

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  1. ArthurDent's Avatar
    Posts : 235
    Windows 10 Pro (x64) 20H2 (OS Build 19042.630)
       #1

    Encrypting the Windows System Disk - good idea or not?


    Hi folks!

    Simple question really.

    Currently re-building my desktop PC and aiming for

    Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) dual-booting with Linux Mint on a 240GB SSD.

    A separate 5TB hard disk for data storage.

    Not sure about how to set this up - partitioned as two separate drives one for Windows documents (and encrypted) and one for Linux documents (not sure whether to encrypt this or not). Any advice/suggestions welcome on this.

    A third laptop hard disk for data security (copying any docs/files etc from the Windows data drive only).

    Question is this.

    Should the bootable system disk containing Windows 10 Pro be encrypted or not? If yes - can you suggest a suitable (& free) encryption solution.

    Should the Linux partition also be encrypted - is it necessary and/or will it cause any conflict being dual-booted with Windows?

    Thanks,

    Art
      My Computers

  2. Sweetsweetcorn's Avatar
    Posts : 151
    Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit
       #2

    Win10 Pro has a native system encryption solution, iirc.
      My Computer

  3. zebal's Avatar
    Posts : 912
    Windows 10 Pro x64 20H2 (Build: 19042.867)
       #3

    First thing to keep in mind is that encryption will slow down your disk I/O, therefore if you're gamer or work with some performance hungry programs you should avoid encryption.

    Your setup with dual boot Windows/Linux means you want your linux drive to be encrypted, and Windows not encrypted.
    Linux would be used to privacy concerned tasks, while Windows would be used for performance and everyday life.

    To encrypt linux drive there is built in tool called dm-crypt, there are other solutions too, so feel free to experiment.

    If you want to encrypt windows, bit locker is good enough, just make sure your have TPM and that hardware is compatible, for maximum efficiency.

    In any case drive encryption is not solution to lock down data on an online PC.
    For sensitive files, they should always be on offline PC.
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  4. Sweetsweetcorn's Avatar
    Posts : 151
    Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit
       #4

    zebal said:
    First thing to keep in mind is that encryption will slow down your disk I/O, therefore if you're gamer or work with some performance hungry programs you should avoid encryption.
    Will other people please tell me if they think it really is that bad or not
      My Computer

  5. larc919's Avatar
    Posts : 3,140
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #5

    Sweetsweetcorn said:
    Will other people please tell me if they think it really is that bad or not
    It always takes more time to decrypt than not. Whether that small amount of extra time interferes with your regular computer operations would mainly depend on what you do on your system. You could always try encryption if you really need it (maybe not a good idea to do it just because you can) and see what the effects are. If you can't live with it, switch back.
      My Computer

  6. Sweetsweetcorn's Avatar
    Posts : 151
    Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit
       #6

    larc919 said:
    It always takes more time to decrypt than not. Whether that small amount of extra time interferes with your regular computer operations would mainly depend on what you do on your system. You could always try encryption if you really need it (maybe not a good idea to do it just because you can) and see what the effects are. If you can't live with it, switch back.
    Playing a modern "AAA" game maxed out on a top-line PC? (one that has a rtx2080ti)

    Would it cause a noticeable difference? If yes, how much of a problem in your humble opinion?
      My Computer


  7. Posts : 161
    Windows 10
       #7

    Just having a look through all the technical discussions across the web it seems like it would be best if you are going to dual boot just to encrypt the system partition. Just use the 'in-house' encryption features to save potentially messing something up. You can use LUKS in Linux. It is easier to do this prior to installing Linux as it can all be done for you at the point of installation. You just provide a decent password and your distro installer will do the rest. With Windows you could use BitLocker or VeraCrypt but I have a feeling you'd have to ensure the Windows bootloader can still be accessible otherwise you'll just end up in a boot loop of sorts. Likewise with Linux. This is why I recommended using seperate disks. As per your replies this isn't possible. This is why you don't install your partners OS on your hard drive along with your OS. This is also why we don't have one computer running ten operating systems because it then becomes a very finnicky process of isolating each OS but ensuring they can still be accessible pending system-wide changes. The more you put onto a hard drive, especially when it's something like operating systems, the more conflicts you are bound to encounter.
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  8. larc919's Avatar
    Posts : 3,140
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #8

    Sweetsweetcorn said:
    Playing a modern "AAA" game maxed out on a top-line PC? (one that has a rtx2080ti)

    Would it cause a noticeable difference? If yes, how much of a problem in your humble opinion?
    Sorry I can't answer that question since I'm not a fast action gamer. My systems aren't encrypted, but I do some work on one that is. Again no fast action games, but encryption has never been bothersome with any normal business-type operations.
      My Computer

  9. Sweetsweetcorn's Avatar
    Posts : 151
    Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit
       #9

    larc919 said:
    Sorry I can't answer that question since I'm not a fast action gamer. My systems aren't encrypted, but I do some work on one that is. Again no fast action games, but encryption has never been bothersome with any normal business-type operations.
    Alright.
      My Computer

  10. ArthurDent's Avatar
    Posts : 235
    Windows 10 Pro (x64) 20H2 (OS Build 19042.630)
    Thread Starter
       #10

    Hi zebal,

    My original post said:

    "Not sure about how to set this up - partitioned as two separate drives one for Windows documents (and encrypted) and one for Linux documents (not sure whether to encrypt this or not). Any advice/suggestions welcome on this."

    zebal said:
    First thing to keep in mind is that encryption will slow down your disk I/O, therefore if you're gamer or work with some performance hungry programs you should avoid encryption.
    Nope. Some downloaded YouTube videos maybe but eveything else not performance-hungry, I'm not a gamer!

    Your setup with dual boot Windows/Linux means you want your linux drive to be encrypted, and Windows not encrypted.

    Linux would be used to privacy concerned tasks, while Windows would be used for performance and everyday life.
    See my comment above.

    If there would likely be a conflict on a dual-boot system where both Windows and Linux were encrypted, then I'd go for just the Windows OS to be encrypted and the Linux OS not.

    To encrypt linux drive there is built in tool called dm-crypt, there are other solutions too, so feel free to experiment.

    If you want to encrypt windows, bit locker is good enough, just make sure your have TPM and that hardware is compatible, for maximum efficiency.
    What is TPM and how do I know if my hardware has it (or is compatible)?

    In any case drive encryption is not solution to lock down data on an online PC.
    For sensitive files, they should always be on offline PC.
    I am not unduly concerned about this.

    I'm really asking whether there is any merit to encrypting the OS where your data is on a separate disk and the disk is encrypted. Seems like overkill to me. Thoughts??

    Art
      My Computers


 
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