About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

May 17, 2011

File Encryption

I have had many emails over time about security of thumb drives.  For instance, I sometimes think about what would happen if I accidentally left my thumb drive lying around somewhere. The finder could open my private files on that drive.

That used to be a concern, but for many years I have been using a great free application called TrueCrypt.  There are probably thousands of other file encryption applications out there but I believe this is one of the better ones.  Also, TrueCrypt meets one of my favorite criteria. It is free.


Before I start telling you what this application will do I will warn you of a few things.  It is very, very good at what it does.  It is not one of the easiest programs to set up.  You may have to read a bit to learn how to use it; however, it will be worth the effort.

Once TrueCrypt is set up you will need a password to access the encrypted files on the drive.  This can include external and internal hard drives as well as thumb drives.

One interesting feature is that you can create an encrypted “container”.  The container is set up on a drive somewhere and when opened you may place as many files as will fit in it.  The size of a container is determined by you when it is created. The neat thing is that you may copy this container to any other location and use it as a container there.  For instance, you could copy your important files to this container (it actually acts like a folder) and transport it to another computer via email, thumb drive, etc.  When you take it to the new computer you copy it to that system, open the container and presto-change-o there are your files in a new place.  If you encrypt the entire thumb drive or a portion of your hard drive you can’t move it from place to place.

Also, remember… to use this on a portable drive you must have TrueCrypt running on that computer.  Hmm, what do you do if TrueCrypt is not on the computer you are trying to use?  No problem! When you set up the drive you can install TrueCrypt on that portable device so you may run it from there when using someone else’s computer.

If you have a need to encrypt your files I highly recommend TrueCrypt.  Also, you don’t need to contact me for specifics. There are many ways to set it up and their site is full of helpful information. If you give it a try let me know what you think.

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