Securely wipe laptop

on a related point, I have a Windows 10 laptop, and I can't unlock windows. I want to copy photos off it. Can I read the disk if I put it as a slave drive in my PC?

By default Windows 10 devices do not encrypt your data automatically unless the following factors apply:

- The device has a hard drive which you cannot remove (e.g. memory chips soldered onto the motherboard) - Examples include Microsoft Surface tablets and some other cheap netbooks
- You sign in to Windows using your Microsoft account rather than a standalone account
- Your password is of sufficient complexicity

There are some other rules that govern this behaviour too. On all other occasions, unless you or your corporate IT people set it up, your drive won't be encrypted. If you have set it up, Microsoft will have prompted you to save a 48-digit recovery password. Therefore (provided you can remove the hard drive), you can connect the drive to another computer using the appropriate external USB lead/enclosure and read the data without issue, even if you do not know the Windows password.

It is critically important that if you decide to remove the hard drive that you do not power on the device afterwards with no drive connected. If you do, this can reset an on-board security processor (called a TPM) - you won't be able to get your data without the 48-digit password. If it is the case that your drive is encrypted, it's worth visiting and trying any Microsoft account you have as Windows may have automatically saved the key (which you can put into another computer to read your data).
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