Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

How to encrypt your data with TrueCrypt

Free download helps you protect private data

Article comments

Though encryption is a strong way to safeguard passwords, personal information, and other sensitive data, it can be confusing due to the acronyms and technobabble that surround the topic.

Many encryption utilities, such as the BitLocker feature in Windows 7 Ultimate, or the Rohos Mini Drive utility for protecting info on a thumb drive, are available. But my favourite tool covers all the bases: It's free, it's easy, it's effective, and it works on all major operating systems. TrueCrypt lets you create virtual encrypted drives. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux; if you install it on several machines running different OSs, you can open your encrypted files from a network share, thumb drive or other shared storage device.

The tool has plenty of advanced options, but the simplest approach, and the one I use, is to create an encrypted file protected by a strong password. When you open your TrueCrypt file, it acts as an additional hard drive with its own drive letter. You can interact with that virtual drive the same way that you might with any storage device: You open, save, drag, and drop files to and from the data store. TrueCrypt handles all the encryption and decryption in the background. When you close the encrypted file, the data is protected until you give the password to open it up once more.

Creating your data safe

First, download TrueCrypt. Install it, fire it up, and click Create Volume to build and name your virtual encrypted drive.

Stick with the default 'Create an encrypted file container' and 'Standard TrueCrypt volume' options, and then choose a name and location for your data store. For its name, you'll need to manually enter the .tc file extension that TrueCrypt uses.

Stay with the default AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) selection. AES is approved for use with top-secret government data. When TrueCrypt prompts for a volume size, choose an amount big enough to hold any files you plan to encrypt.

Next comes setting the password, perhaps the most important step. Create a good, strong password; don't just reuse the same one you're probably using for webmail and everything else. You'll also need to write it down somewhere safe, TrueCrypt has no password-recovery option, as that could provide a means for breaking in. Lose the password, and your data is likewise lost.

Stick with FAT for the file system type, for maximum portability. Move your mouse around to generate randomness for the encryption, you'll see the encryption key changing next to the 'Random Pool' header, and click Format.

Safety options

Your encrypted virtual drive should now appear in the location you specified. If you double-click that file (or click Mount in TrueCrypt and select it), your data store will open at the drive letter you choose. At this point, you can add the files you'd like to encrypt.

When you're finished adding files, click Dismount. Under Settings, Preferences you can also specify 'Auto-dismount volume after no data has been read/written to it for XX minutes', so if you forget about TrueCrypt, it will automatically close and encrypt your file.

As with any important chunk of data, you should also back up your TrueCrypt file in case of hard drive failure. After saving the backup to a thumb drive or other shared media device, you can restore your encrypted files on a new computer as long as you have installed TrueCrypt on it.


More from Techworld

More relevant IT news


Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *