As you mentioned, the Intel® SSD 730 Series supports AES 256-bit encryption. This feature is always enabled and the data is encrypted and decrypted using a key, however, this is transparent to the the user unless you set a password (for example using ATA password security in the BIOS), then the password will be needed to decrypt the encryption key and access the drive. This way, it would be virtually impossible to read the data unless you have the security password.
There is no need for additional software to do this, however, the system must support ATA password security to set the password and access the drive once it is enabled. Using this method would not have any negative effect in the expected life and wear of your SSD.
This is mentioned in page 6 of the Intel® SSD 730 Series Product Specification.
Thanks for the response.
I do have a machine with an intel DH77DF motherboard that does support ATA password however my main PC is an older MSI P55 based board that doesnt. In fact it seems like only Intel has really implemented ATA password on desktop motherboards!
Are my only other realistic options software such as Bitlocker (which oh windows 7 requires a USB key to unlock without a TPM module) or DiskCryptor (which while it is open source software...makes me uneasy due to the anonymity of the author) and if so would Bitlocker etc negatively affect the wear rate of the SSD/shorten the life of the SSD?
Most of current desktop motherboards support ATA password security. However, if one of your systems does not support this technology, then you will need to use a different solution to prevent unauthorized access to the data in that computer.
Regarding the 3rd party encryption tools you mentioned, we would advise you to contact the provider of the software for more information, since we don't handle the details on how they work, and the impact they may have in the wear of the drive.