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I'm considering purchasing a SSD that has built-in hardware encryption / self-encrypting drive that provides its own full drive encryption.

What can I do to check that the BIOS on my machine will support it?

Background research so far

Research on self-encrypting drives - good article below, but I would need to know if the BIOS can support it: http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Self-encrypting-drives-SED-the-best-kept-secret-in-hard-drive-encryption-security

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The BIOS doesn't matter, because this is handled by the software on the "shadow disk" which the BIOS sees when the drive is just powered up and not yet unlocked.

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Yes (thanks) the BIOS would boot into the small shadow disk to execute the built-in encryption software on the drive which would ask for a password to make the real drive (the main, full-size disk visible) but the would the drive need to restart the BIOS (and would it need support from the BIOS to support restart). What about folks who decide not to have self-encryption but then change their minds - how would they get back to the shadow disk if they had chosen to have it ignored in the first place. –  therobyouknow Sep 28 '12 at 12:41
    
+1 and accepted. I would think that your answer should work with most BIOSs. Your answer seems to me like a hardware-based preinstalled equivalent of truecrypt whereby a password was asked for at startup, and is run when the BIOS is booted. Well, I'll know for certain when I get a self-encrypting drive in a few weeks. –  therobyouknow Sep 28 '12 at 15:29
    
@therobyouknow So, did you get a sed drive? It's interesting to know how well it performs. I'm considering buying it, too. –  Sarge Borsch Apr 19 at 23:52
    
I'm not using a drive in SED configuration, but I have bought a Samsung 840SSD Pro for the sole purpose of improving performance of the machine and that it does very nicely. It can be securely wiped very quickly as it uses encryption for that. But I haven't linked that self-encryption to a password prompt on boot-up such that the password would decrypt the entire drive. I don't know if this is possible. –  therobyouknow Apr 21 at 1:01

What you need is a BIOS that allows you to set the ATA disk password. This is not the same as the "boot password" or the "setup password". Most modern SSD's have built in on-the-fly FDE but it's only effective if you can set this password. For a very detailed explanation see this post or this discussion on Tom's Hardware.

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