Whole Disk Encryption (WDE) Frequently Asked Questions

All Harvard University owned laptops must be protected with whole disk encryption (WDE). The University considers any laptop purchased with a grant or those purchased through normal procurement methods to be University-owned. HMS IT staff will be available to assist in encrypting laptops.

What is Whole Disk Encryption (WDE)?

What software should I use to encrypt my computer?

What is Whole Disk Encryption (WDE)?
Whole (or Full) Disk Encryption is a process which, by using hardware or software, encodes the information on a computer. Decoding the information requires a password, which prevents unauthorized access to the data on your computer.

What software should I use to encrypt my computer?
HMS currently recommends using BitLocker for Windows 7 or later, or FileVault for Mac OS X 10.7 or later.  Both solutions meet the University’s minimum requirements for Whole Disk Encryption. When using either of these products, it is very important to keep a copy of the encryption key in a safe place. If you forget your password, the encryption key is the only way to unlock the computer.

In order to ensure the complete safety of your data on your laptop, HMS IT also strongly recommends that your laptop is backed up with CrashPlan.

For assistance with setting up Bit Locker or File Vault, or any other questions regarding laptop encryption, please contact the HMS Information Technology Help Desk at (617) 432-2000 or by email at help_desk@hms.harvard.edu.


Last Updated October 4, 2013

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Site Updated: 6/13/2014
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