If you have financial files or other personal documents that you need to keep private then you should look at encrypting and password protecting a folder on your computer. This is especially important if you share your notebook with friends or family on occasion and don’t want your information or files to be out there for all to see. The problem could be even worse if your laptop is stolen or lost. It’s always better to prepared, than to be worried about your sensitive information later.
You can use TrueCrypt to create encrypted folder on your PC. With a TrueCrypt encrypted folder if your laptop is stolen, lost or you give someone to use it for a while you don’t need to get worry about your sensitive information being viewed. When you encrypt a folder the person using our PC won’t know what’s inside the folder and cracking TrueCrypt encryptions is a difficult and lengthy process that most laptop thieves or users won’t be familiar with.
TrueCrypt is open-source disk encryption software for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. TrueCrypt works on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. TrueCrypt is very powerful encryption software and provides a lot of functionality.
After creating an encrypted folder, drive or partition you can lock it down with a strong password. You can also combine the password with a key such as a file or image to make the password more difficult to crack. If you want, TrueCrypt can also generate the key to use along with password. You can store the keyfile on a thumbdrive or somewhere safe and unless you have both the keyfile and the password, you cannot open the folder.
If you want to take it a step further, TrueCrypt will let you create a hidden folder, partition or whole operating system that no one will know is there.
Here are some of features of TrueCrypt encryption software.
- Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.
- Can encrypt an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive.
- It has two features, parallelization and pipelining, that can allow data to be read and written as fast as if the drive was not encrypted.
- Can encrypt a partition or drive where windows is installed (pre-boot authentication).
- Can create a hidden volume and a hidden operating system.
- Uses the AES-256, Serpent and Twofish encryption algorithms.
Today in my tutorial I am going to cover how to install TrueCrypt, create an encrypted volume and mount the encrypted volume on your PC. Creating a hidden partition or hidden operating system requires more work and additional knowledge so I will cover these topics in a separate post.
Please note that this tutorial shows how to install TrueCrypt and use it on a Windows machine, but it will be similar in other operating systems.
How to install TrueCrypt on Windows machine:
Step 1: Head over to TrueCrypt page and download the TrueCrypt .
Step 2: Right click on the installation file and click on â€˜Run as administrator’.
Step 3: Check the license terms.
Step 4: Click the Accept button.
Step 5: Select the install option and click the Next button.
Step 6: Install to the default location. This does not need to be the location you are going to encrypt.
Step 7: Make sure that the â€˜create system restore point’ option is checked. This is makes it possible to restore Windows to a previous state if anything goes wrong.
Step 8: TrueCrypt will start the installation.
Step 9: A window will popup telling you that TrueCrypt has been successfully installed on your machine.
Step 10: Click the Finish button to complete the installation.
How to encrypt a folder:
Step 1: Start the TrueCrypt application and click on create volume.
Step 2: Select the first option â€˜create an encrypted file container’.
Step3: Click the Next button.
Step 4: Select the volume type â€˜standard TrueCrypt volume’ and click the Next button.
Step 5: Select the volume location by clicking on â€˜select file’.
Step 6: Browse to the location where you want to create the encrypted folder and name the folder.
Step 7: Click the Next button.
Step 8: On next window â€˜Encryption options’, select the encryption algorithm from the drop down menu. All of the encryption options in TrueCrypt are good and provide a challenge to an individual trying to access your files.
Step 9: After selecting the encryption option you can test it by clicking the Test button.
Step 10: Click the Next button.
Step 11: Specify the volume size for the encrypted folder and click on Next.
Step 12: Type the password of your choice in password field. This password will be used as decrypting the encrypted folder. Choose strong password which is difficult for others to guess, but one that you won’t forget.
Step 13: You can also combine the password with keyfiles. A keyfile could be an image, mp3 or other document that becomes part of the key to decrypt the folder. Make sure you backup your keyfiles since any change to the file will cause it to stop working with TrueCrypt to open your encrypted folder.
Step 14: Browse to the files which you want to be a keyfile and select them. Press the OK button.
Step 15: You can also create the keyfile from TrueCrypt by clicking on Generate random key button. This generated keyfile can be used as single keyfile or combination with other files.
Step 16: When you are done entering your password and selecting keyfiles, click the Next button.
Step 17: TrueCrypt will format the volume before encrypting. Select the file system from drop down menu.
Step 18: Click the format button and TrueCrypt will format the encrypted folder.
Step 19: After the format completes, a window will pop up informing you that TrueCrypt volume has been successfully created.
Step 20: Click the Exit button unless you want to create another encrypted folder.
How to mount the encrypted folder:
Step 1: Start the TrueCrypt application and select an unused drive letter from the TrueCrypt drive letter option. Make sure the drive letter is not in use on your PC.
Step 2: Click on select file to select the encrypted file which you want to mount.
Step 3: Browse to the location where encrypted folder you just created is and select that folder.
Step 4: Click the mount button.
Step 5: Enter the password and click on keyfiles if you also used a keyfile to secure the folder.
Step 6: This step is optional and need to use only if you have a keyfile. Click on add files and add all keyfiles you used in encrypting the folder.
Step 7: Press the OK button.
Step 8: If password and key files are correct then TrueCrypt will mount the encrypted folder as a new drive on your computer.
Step 9: Now you can use this encrypted drive just like a normal drive and it will show up under My Computer.
Step 10: To unmount the drive select the drive in TrueCrypt window and click on â€˜Dismount all’ and it will no longer show up in My Computer or be mounted as a hard drive.
When you are done using the encrypted folder, and wish to make it secure again, you should unmount it otherwise anyone with access to your computer will be able to view the contents.