The Benefits of a Self-encrypting Drive

February 18, 2019

Data stored on business systems can be a liability. Customer credit card information, personal identification numbers, email lists, internal policies, product roadmaps, and intellectual property is stored on nearly every computer, which means that these systems are vulnerable to accidental loss, hackers, and data thieves. The good news: it doesn’t have to be this way.

Software encryption vs. hardware encryption

There are a variety of software programs that can encrypt the data on your computer's storage drive. These programs use the CPU to encrypt and decrypt data as it's being written to or read from your storage drive.

Software encryption has some drawbacks. Because the processor is working to encrypt and decrypt the data, it can slow down system performance. There are also ways to recover data that has been encrypted. This is good if you lose the encryption key, but bad if someone else is able to decrypt the data. With some methods of software encryption, it is possible to see the data, even though it's encrypted.

A better way to protect the data is to encrypt it at the hardware level. If your storage drive has a built-in controller that supports hardware encryption, such as a 256-bit AES encryption controller, you can use full disk encryption, which is sometimes called a self-encrypting drive.

Hardware encryption is better for security because it's almost impossible for someone to get the data off a drive that is encrypted. The person who has the encryption key, however, can encrypt or decrypt the drive in just a few clicks. Because the encryption method uses the drive, rather than the CPU, there is no slow down in performance.

The Crucial® MX-series SSDs have a 256-bit AES encryption controller. It's simple to swap out a hard drive or existing solid state drive for an SSD with better data security.


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