Flash drives have evolved into a very handy utility. You can store necessary files and documents in them and can always carry them along. Today, USB flash drives are commonly available in the sizes of 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and even more. Apart from documents and files, you can store operating systems like Linux, Mac, and many other softwares. People also use it to store their private and confidential data. Although its portability allows you to carry the information, it also increases the risk of losing it. It might cost you more, if you lose the device containing vital information. A good solution to this problem would be to encrypt the data in it.
Encryption Using TrueCrypt
Using TrueCrypt you can create a password protected 'container' file which stores and encrypts files. When the device is connected to the system, this container file gets mounted as a separate hard drive and automatically encrypts anything you store in it. Follow the steps given below to protect your data.
- Download the latest version of TrueCrypt and install it on your system.
- Connect the device to the system.
- Run the application and start Volume Creation Wizard by clicking on Create Volume button.
- Select 'create a file container' option and click next which brings you to the Volume Type window, where you can give your specifications for container file. If you are not sure about other options, select default option which is Standard TrueCrypt Volume.
- Click next to open Volume Location window, where you can provide the address for the container file. Specify your location as F:\MyCrypt (Assuming its assigned drive is F:\) to place the container at the root of the flash drive. Click next.
- Select the encryption algorithm from the options available. Select default if you do not have particular preferences.
- Select the size of the container file. Ideally you should leave 10 to 20% of your flash drive capacity unencrypted, so that you can store unimportant, sharable file outside the container.
- Provide a password for mounting the container on the hard drive. Make sure your password is strong.
- Format the container by selecting the default options.
- Once the format completes successfully, click 'ok' on the pop up window and close the application.
- Go to My Computer and navigate to the TrueCrypt directory to C:\Program Files\TrueCrypt directory and copy it to the root of your device.
- Create a file on notepad named 'autorun.inf' and type the following:
action=Mount TrueCrypt volume
open=TrueCrypt\TrueCrypt.exe /q background /e /m rm /v "MyCrypt"
shell\dismount=Dismount all TrueCrypt volumes
shell\dismount\command=TrueCrypt\TrueCrypt.exe /q /d
The purpose of creating this file is to prompt you to mount the container file, every time you connect to the system.
- Save this file to the device.
- Now when you connect the device to system, you will be prompted for password to the container file. When you provide correct details, the container will automatically get mounted to the next drive which is G:\ in this case.
- Save the files you need to keep safe.
Simple Technique of Encryption
This method allows you to encrypt the files which can be viewed on your PC only. If you leave a free space of 10 to 20%, you will be able to save sharable files, which can be viewed on other machines.
- Format your device in NTFS format.
- Go to My Computer and right click on the device. Choose new folder option to create one.
- Right click on the new folder and go to its properties.
- Click 'advanced' button in the attributes section.
- Check the box which says 'Encrypt contents to secure data' box. Click OK and close out the dialog boxes.
- The newly created folder appears green which means you can safely store your sensitive data.
The above methods allow you to securely store and carry your data. Even if you lose your flash drive, your information would be safe and out-of-bounds for others.