Everyone has some private data that they don’t want other to see. It may be a document consisting of all your login passwords, your bank account information that you want to keep out of your family or some stalker’s sight. In case you are wondering how to encrypt the files/folders/entire hard drive and keep it safe from prying eyes, here is an easy method.
TrueCrypt is a free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. It creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk. You can use it to:
- Create a virtual disk within a file and mount it as an actual drive letter.
- Encrypt an entire hard disk partition or a storage device such as USB flash drive.
- Provide encryption that is real time and transparent.
In this post, I will illustrate the configuration of TrueCrypt on a Windows machine. The procedure will be the same for Linux and Mac OSX. There are two main ways to create an encrypted disk. You can encrypt an entire disk, or you can create a virtual disk within a file. The first method has its risks, since converting a drive will erase everything that is on it. The second method is great for experimenting – you simply create a file somewhere on your hard drive and map it. Download the latest version and install it on your computer.
After you have installed it, you will find a TrueCrypt icon on your start menu. We want to create a new file container, so click on the option Create a new file container.
Now choose Create a standard TrueCrypt volume. If you do not want your file volume to be visible, select Create a hidden TrueCrypt volume. Click Next.
In the next window, select the location of the file volume. If the file does not exists, TrueCrypt will create it for you. To encrypt your USB drive, click Select Device and point the path to your USB drive.
After you have selected the location and name of your volume file, Click Next, and pick the encryption type of your choice. If you don’t know what to use, then choose the default AES. It is sufficient for most applications.
Pick the size of your encrypted volume and click Next. For illustration purpose, I only created a 200 MB file volume.
The next step is to create your password. Make sure you choose a strong password that consists of upper case, lower case, number and special characters. TrueCrypt allows you to enter up to 64 characters for your password. Don’t forget the password, if you do, it will be hard if not impossible to get your data back.
Pick your file system type and click format. You may want to stick to FAT if you need to access the same files on older systems, or Linux.
Now that you have formatted the volume you can click on exit. Now select the file for mapping. You can do this by clicking on the select file button. Browse and find the .tc file you created earlier. Pick a drive letter above by clicking it once, and then click the Mount button.
Click Mount. You will be asked to provide authentication. You can now start transferring your files into the volume.
When you are done, click on the Dismount button to dismount the volume. Click Exit to close the TrueCrypt window. Note that this does not close down TrueCrypt entirely. To end the session, right click the TrueCrypt icon on the top system bar and select Exit.
For any queries and suggestions regarding this post, leave your comments.