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Office of Information Technology

Frequently Asked Questions about Workstation Encryption

Faculty and Staff Instructions

What is encryption?

Encryption is the coding or scrambling of information so that it can only be decoded and read by someone who has the correct decoding key (password). Back to List


What is the difference between whole-disk and file/folder level encryption?

Whole-disk encryption software encrypts all the files on your hard drive, including system files. File and folder level encryption only encrypts specific files or folders that you have intentionally selected for encryption. Back to List


What can whole disk encryption software do?

Whole disk encryption software ensures that no unauthorized user may access the device and read data or use the device as a tool to enter American University's network. If a device gets into unauthorized hands, the data is securely protected even if the hard disk is removed. The entire hard disk is completely encrypted and requires your authentication before the data can be accessed. Back to List


Is whole disk encryption software easy to use?

Yes. It is a fully automated encryption running in the background, which means there is no change to the way you interact with your computer and no user training is required. Back to List


Will the encryption software slow down my computer?

No. Once the encryption software is installed, there is no change in the end-user experience. The authentication for whole disk encryption is integrated with the operating system login you normally see when you start up your computer. Back to List


Does whole disk encryption software facilitate the recovery of a lost or stolen computer?

No. Whole disk encryption only protects the data stored on the hard drive, so that unauthorized users cannot access it. The computer may not be recovered; however, the data will be protected. Back to List