Over the past year I have done a lot to shore up my digital privacy and security. One of the last tasks I have to tackle is locking down the many personal files I have on my computer that have potentially compromising information in them (e.g. bank statements). Right now they are simply sitting on my hard drive, unencrypted. Theft of my device or a breach in access through the network would allow a frightening level of access to many of my records.
As such, what are my options for keeping certain files behind an encryption "shield"? Also, what are the potential tradeoffs for doing so? In researching the topic online I've read plenty of horror stories about people losing archives or whole drives due to encryption-related errors/mistakes. How can I protect against this scenario? Losing the files would be almost as bad as having them compromised!
I'm running Linux, but I'm far from tech-savvy, so I would either need a solution to be straightforward or I'd have to learn a lot to make sense of a more complicated solution. I'm willing to learn mainly because it's not an option for me to continue with my current, insecure setup. I do use a cloud-based password manager that allows for uploading of files, and I trust it enough with my passwords that I would trust it with my files, though I would like to avoid that situation if possible.
With all this in mind, what's a good solution for me to protect my personal files?