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Ubuntu and MaxOS has an ability to encrypt home folder in case laptop is stolen. Is it possible to do same thing on Windows 7? I need to encrypt home folder so it will be encrypted and decrypted runtime using my password, so if laptop is stolen it is no way for a stealer to remove HDD and read / decrypt sensitive data.

If such thing is possible, what version of Windows 7 provides that functionality? Is "home premium" enough?

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I'm reviving this zombie as it's an answer I'd like too, and not posting duplicate questions. –  invert Oct 22 '10 at 13:48

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

TrueCrypt provides the ability to do a pre-boot system encryption. Maybe thats what you're looking for.

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The OP asks for a way to 'decrypt at runtime using my password', ie windows logon. Pre-boot encryption would work, but a solution closer to the question is preferable. –  invert Oct 22 '10 at 13:49
yes, but windows encryption seems to be to unsave for him ;) –  schöppi Oct 22 '10 at 14:25
I guess you win :) For myself, I want a solution to auto-crypt at login/logout, but not during pre-boot. The other answers are less practical in one way or another. +1 for TrueCrypt! –  invert Oct 27 '10 at 13:23

I found this article on Microsoft.com, it was written for Vista, so should still work on 7.

  1. Right-click the folder or file you want to encrypt, and then click Properties.

  2. Click the General tab, and then click Advanced.

  3. Select the Encrypt contents to secure data check box, and then click OK.

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I'm not sure how secure is that. It seems that certificate is stored as a file on the same hard disk, so if laptop is stolen the stealer will just use that certificate to decrypt a folder? –  Eye of Hell Oct 30 '09 at 9:21
Is there any info on how secure this method really is? I also found it does not encrypt file structure, which is still visible and not that ideal. –  invert Oct 22 '10 at 13:51
This only works for Ultimate or Pro versions of Windows 7/Vista... –  studiohack Oct 24 '10 at 1:39
The OP simply asked for which version of Windows 7 he needed. –  wag2639 Oct 27 '10 at 7:23

It is possible to encrypt the entire hard drive (including the home folder) using theBitLocker feature. This is only available in Windows 7 Ultimate.

If by 'home folder' you mean user's data folder (C:\Users\username), that can probably be done in other versions.

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BitLocker requires hardware encrypton module (TPM) that is not avalable on most computers :( –  Eye of Hell Dec 26 '09 at 13:10
Laptops support TPM, but desktop boards do not. For us who don't have TPM we need a better solution. Also it's said that the only thing TPM provides is a 'false sense of security' - truecrypt.org/faq –  invert Oct 22 '10 at 6:59

See How To Encrypt a Folder Using TrueCrypt :

You can use TrueCrypt to create encrypted folder on your PC. With a TrueCrypt encrypted folder if your laptop is stolen, lost or you give someone to use it for a while you don’t need to get worry about your sensitive information being viewed. When you encrypt a folder the person using our PC won’t know what’s inside the folder and cracking TrueCrypt encryptions is a difficult and lengthy process that most laptop thieves or users won’t be familiar with.

As far as I know, the encryption for TrueCrypt was never broken.

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I'm a fan of truecrypt, but can't figure out how to use it to encrypt the user's home directory at logon, that is the unfortunate issue. –  invert Oct 22 '10 at 13:55
I wonder what will happen if you do encrypt C:\Users\<name> and add the mount command at the user's logon script. –  harrymc Oct 22 '10 at 14:24
There are some technical niceties to such a solution that can only be worked out by trying. –  harrymc Oct 22 '10 at 15:11

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