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Just read Ten Things To Do To Secure An Important Persons Computer and it talks, among other things, about using BitLocker (or TrueCrypt) to encrypt your hard-drive.

I have always thought that that could probably be a nice thing to do, but I have never done it because I'm worried what will happen if my computer crashes or if I reinstall/switch my operating system. Will I be able to take out the hard-drive, stick it in a new/different computer and get my data? Or is it lost forever if my motherboard/operating system dies?

How would that work really?

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your concern centers around the retrieval of data that should not need to be retrieved. This may point to weaknesses in the backup plan. –  Sirex Jan 3 '12 at 11:44

2 Answers 2

You restore important data from backups.

The problem with "Ten Things To Do To Secure An Important Persons Computer" is that it forgets the usual definition of Information Security:

protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information

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Bitlocker works either using a TPM chip and/or a USB key. Now there are three methods of Recovery incase of a disaster.

  1. Recovery password
  2. Recovery key file
  3. Data Recovery Agent

The last one is by far the best method if you are part of Active Directory. It's pretty automatic. The second one is the best method for all other cases IMO.

In the case of Bitlocker, recovery keys are called protectors and the Setup Wizards prompts you to make a copy of the Recovery key.

Best Practices for BitLocker in Windows 7

How to configure BitLocker with TPM, PIN, and USB StartupKey

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TrueCrypt (which is mentioned by the asker's article) provides a mechanism similar to #2. Before drive encryption begins TrueCrypt generates and forces you to burn (seriously, it verifies the disc before proceeding) a "recovery CD" which has the passphrase-protected recovery key and a bootable tool that will decrypt the entire drive. –  jcrawfordor Jan 4 '12 at 17:29
    
Also, I don't know if this is true of BitLocker but I suspect it is, at least for TrueCrypt a TrueCrypt encrypted system drive is the same format as any encrypted volume, so you can hook up the drive to be recovered to a working computer and then use a standard TrueCrypt install on the working computer to mount the drive. –  jcrawfordor Jan 4 '12 at 17:31
    
Both links also will tell you that Bitlocker does the same thing –  surfasb Jan 4 '12 at 17:34

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