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I have a win 7 laptop that I would like to fully encrypt the hard drive and back up the encrypted hard drive routinely. Should I use TrueCrypt (not running Ultimate)?

And how would I access the contents of the hard drive? Just decrypt on a computer with TrueCrypt or another application with the same decryption algorithm?

I also have a WD My Passport with a trash folder that says I need admin privileges to delete (I am admin). I'm not sure how the hard drive decides weather I'm an admin (it does have some WD proprietary apps to install that "optimize" performance, I'm not if those would). Can I just manually reformat the drive to delete the trash? If so I would greatly appreciate a good guide as to go about doing this. Should I format it as anything in particular for a Win 7 image back up?

I would also like to create a routine so the computer automatically backs up the encrypted hard drive to the external usb hard drive. I imagine they should be formatted as the same thing?

I would greatly appreciate insight into process.

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You might also want to encrypt the external USB hard drive as well or you'll just be creating an unencrypted copy of your encrypted hard drive. –  Richard Mar 21 '13 at 14:23

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TrueCrypt is one solution you can use, another is bitlocker. I've been using TrueCrypt in a production environment for about a year now with no issues. If you want to be able to put the drive in a different machine as a 'secondary' drive, that computer will also need TrueCrypt installed to read the encrypted partition.

Formatting the drive will get rid of everything, some people prefer exFAT over NTFS, if you're going to make backups of your entire computer, see this post for how I recommend you do it.

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