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External Hard Drive Full Disk Hardware Encryption

Posted on 2011-03-06
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I am a long time user of the Maxtor Black Armor line of USB external hard drives, which enable me to type in a password when I connect the drive to a computer.  From that point on, I can use the drive as a regular external hard drive, knowing that if the drive is lost or stolen the data will be secure.  I need to upgrade my external drives to a larger capacity (1-2 TB), with the same security capabilities, the ability to work on a MAC (which the Black Armor does NOT), and hopefully offer USB 3.0 functionality.  Are there any portable drives that offer this combination of features?  My main computers run Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, although I travel a lot and need to plug into pretty much everything.

Thank you,

Philip Simmons
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Question by:philsimmons
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Expert Comment

by:sykojester
ID: 35048148
You could use BitLocker, however you said you need it to work on Mac's and possibly other systems.

I prefer TrueCrypt www.truecrypt.org as it can do full disk encryption and run on Windows XP, Vista, 7, Mac OSX, & Linux.

Both of these solutions are software based so it doesn't matter which external drive you use and you don't have to spend twice as much on it.  I don't know any vendors off the top of my head that do hardware based encryption on 1TB+ drives.  For some reason it seems like it's treated as a novelty item.
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by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 35048312
Anothe vote for truecrypt.
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R-Weiss earned 500 total points
ID: 35055535
I vote for Truecrypt as well. Couple of thoughts though to protect the drive as failure on an encrypted disk can be troublesome.

If you encrypt the entire system create a rescue disk:
http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/?s=rescue-disk

And it you use an encrypted volume it is a god  idea to back up the data on the system:
http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/?s=how-to-back-up-securely 
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by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 35058072
Why didnt sykojester get points for this? If I or rweiss get any points it should be an assist.
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Author Comment

by:philsimmons
ID: 35061735
I apologize for that. I found the TrueCrypt program and site very confusing and, frankly, was afraid to try it.  R-Weiss gave me a sense of security that made me feel able to try it out.  I agree that since sykojester first suggested the TrueCrypt he should have shared the points ... is there a way to revise my allocation?  If not, I'll be more careful in the future.  Thanks for pointing it out.
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by:Richard Schilke
ID: 35067171
I recommend Truecrypt it has a great wizard style setup so it is difficult to get wrong. You just need to ensure you have all data backed up to another device. Create your Encrypted partition which you password protect. You also have the ability to create hidden partitions for additional security on super sensitive data. Just remember that creating a true crypt partition will format the device and destroy your device data. But once created you can copy it all up from your backup and the device appears as normal only password protected as you need.
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