Encrypt your Hard Drives

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 7, 2005
Updated • Apr 30, 2013
Encryption, Software

I thought about encrypting my hard disks, or at least part of them that contain personal data, for at least one year always pondering if I should make that step as I feared that I'd lose some or all data if something went wrong during the process. I never did it because I thought it would be a lot of work involved. I had to find a good program, one that would offer good encryption algorithms, is free and easy to use.

I wanted the program to provide me with functionality to encrypt a partition, offer real-time encryption and support for hidden partitions. Today, I finally decided to give this a try. I bought an external hard drive, installed the program true crypt and used true crypt to encrypt the full external hard drive.

It took about five hours to format and encrypt the drive which is connected to my PC via USB 2.0. I then moved files and programs to the encrypted drive which I wanted to protect, and the drive itself showed up like any other drive on the system when mounted. One great feature is that I can run programs from the encrypted hard drive just like I can on unencrypted drives. You can run Bittorrent, Emule, web browsers, ftp clients and any other kind of software from the drive directly. As of now, I did not encounter errors or major slow downs while doing so.

Another great feature is that True Crypt has the option to place a hidden partition inside the encrypted drive. If someone forces you to reveal the content of the drive the hidden partition remains untouched. And no one is able to find out that easily that there is a hidden area inside the revealed area.

True Crypt comes with a step by step guide. Its really easy to setup and run. A highly frequented forum helps if you encounter problems that are not explained in the user guide.

Let me know if you try it out and write about your experience using the software.


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  1. george said on November 8, 2010 at 2:58 am

    I have a problem that someone might be able to help me out with. I installed Truecrypt on an external hard drive. Then my Ubuntu OS crashed so I reinstalled. Now, when I try to access my Truecrypt files on my external hard drive I cannot access them. Was there some sort of code stored on my previous OS that I need on my reinstalled OS in order to access these files? I have installed Truecrypt on my new Ubuntu OS, but I’m wondering if there’s some sort of identity file that was created on my old OS in order to access these files. (?)

    If so, I think this is a serious flaw to this software. I’m pretty stuck here because I had some secure data saved on my external hard drive that I now cannot access. I lost the local copy that was saved on my previous OS when Ubuntu crashed and now I cannot access my backup copy on my external hard drive.

    :( bummer.

    1. Martin said on November 8, 2010 at 9:31 am

      George you can configure True Crypt to use a password and / or a file. That’s up to you and decided during the creation.

      1. george said on November 13, 2010 at 4:48 am

        Hi Martin,

        Thanks for the reply!

        Yes, I did encrypt a file on my external hard drive. Everything worked fine. I could access the external hard drive from my Ubuntu os without a problem. However, my Ubuntu system crashed and I had to reinstall Ubuntu. Now, for some reason, I cannot gain access to my encrypted file on my external hard drive. When I enter my True Crypt password it says that the file does not exist. I can’t understand why it would give me this error.


  2. Lynn said on September 11, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Wow this was two years ago but, simon: Once you’ve mounted the drive then yes, you are allowed free access. If someone were to seize your computer before you had the chance to close Truecrypt then they would have access. However, Truecrypt auto-dismounts whenever your computer is interrupted (restarted, shut down, etc)…in which case said intruder would have to know the key in order to mount the driver again.

  3. simon said on October 8, 2006 at 9:38 am

    As a follow up to my comment Sep 24th. I thought truecrypt created an encrypted file that needed a p/w to access. After I have ‘mounted’ it onto a drive it seems to offer free access. is that right? If so then how does it protect the contents?

  4. simon said on September 24, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks Martin, but isn’t the reason for Truecrypt that it provides password protection to the file? I can’t figure out why it doesn’t ask for the password after mounting the file to a drive.

  5. Martin said on September 24, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    If you mount a file or drive you are free to use it and don’t need to provide a password. If you dismount the drive or file you will have to mount it again providing the password.

  6. simon said on September 24, 2006 at 9:47 am

    I installed True Crypt and ‘mounted’ the file but for some reason it allows unimpeded access and doesn’t apply a password – can’t figure out why. Bit disappointed.

  7. Guest said on December 9, 2005 at 7:48 am

    TrueCrypt is awesome… been using it for a while now. Cant do without it. Carry it in my USB drive too :)

  8. Martin said on December 8, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    Its working fine for me, I feared that true crypt would slow down my system but I cannot notice that. I moved a large part of my files to the encrypted file and defragmented the other hard drives afterwards.

    Can recommend this to everyone who has sensible data stored on his computer.

  9. asdf said on December 7, 2005 at 10:22 pm

    I’ve used True Crypt for the last 18 months and love it. I’ve always used it to create mountable disks out of files on my local hard drive so that sensitive data can be stored in an encrypted area.

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