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VeraCrypt can on-the-fly encrypt a system partition or entire system drive, i.e. a partition or drive where Windows is installed and from which it boots.
System encryption provides the highest level of security and privacy, because all files, including any temporary files that Windows and applications create on the system partition (typically, without your knowledge or consent), hibernation files, swap files,
etc., are always permanently encrypted (even when power supply is suddenly interrupted). Windows also records large amounts of potentially sensitive data, such as the names and locations of files you open, applications you run, etc. All such log files and
registry entries are always permanently encrypted as well.
System encryption involves pre-boot authentication, which means that anyone who wants to gain access and use the encrypted system, read and write files stored on the system drive, etc., will need to enter the correct password each time before Windows boots
(starts). Pre-boot authentication is handled by the VeraCrypt Boot Loader, which resides in the first track of the boot drive and on the
VeraCrypt Rescue Disk (see below)
Note that VeraCrypt can encrypt an existing unencrypted system partition/drive in-place while the operating system is running (while the system is being encrypted, you can use your computer as usual without any restrictions). Likewise, a VeraCrypt-encrypted
system partition/drive can be decrypted in-place while the operating system is running. You can interrupt the process of encryption or decryption anytime, leave the partition/drive partially unencrypted, restart or shut down the computer, and then resume the
process, which will continue from the point it was stopped.
To encrypt a system partition or entire system drive, select
System > Encrypt System Partition/Drive and then follow the instructions in the wizard. To decrypt a system partition/drive, select
System > Permanently Decrypt System Partition/Drive.
Because of BIOS requirement, the pre-boot password is typed using US keyboard layout.
During the system encryption process, VeraCrypt automatically and transparently switches the keyboard to US layout in order to ensure that the password value typed will match the one typed in pre-boot mode. Thus, in order to avoid wrong password errors,
one must type the password using the same keys as when creating the system encryption.
Note: By default, Windows 7 and later boot from a special small partition. The partition contains files that are required to boot the system. Windows allows only applications that have administrator privileges to write to the partition (when the system is
running). VeraCrypt encrypts the partition only if you choose to encrypt the whole system drive (as opposed to choosing to encrypt only the partition where Windows is installed).
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