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Encrypting an External Hard Disk Drive

Posted on 2013-01-30
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I have a 2.5" Western Digital drive which I connect to my laptop via one of the USB ports. I was just wondering what it would take to encrypt that drive. Currently, none of the other drives on my system are encrypted, and I only want to encrypt the one connected to the USB port. When I purchased the laptop directly from Dell a couple of weeks ago, I elected to do so without encrypting the disk, so I'm assuming there's no encryption software installed. If after encrypting the drive I can "see" it only from the laptop, that's fine with me. Any suggestions?
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Question by:babyb00mer
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foxpc123 earned 334 total points
ID: 38837258
True crypt is great and even better it's free;

http://www.truecrypt.org/
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by:Tolomir
ID: 38837282
With truecrypt you can use it on any computer ... that has truecrypt installed.
All you need to access the drive is the right password. so don't choose a too easy one.
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by:marsilies
marsilies earned 166 total points
ID: 38837414
There's also FreeOTFE, which offers more portability options that TrueCrypt:
http://www.freeotfe.org/

Windows 8 Pro includes Bitlocker and Bitlocker To Go:
http://winsupersite.com/article/windows8/windows-8-tips-protect-portable-storage-bitlocker-143777

All versions of Windows 8 include EFS (Encrypted File System). This won't encrypt the whole drive, but you could set it to encrypt all the folders on the drive:
http://www.ghacks.net/2012/09/06/encrypt-files-and-folders-in-windows-8-with-efs/


A warning to be very very careful when using encryption. If you forget the password you used, you won't ever be able to recover the files, due to the strong encryption. Some encryption methods may include recovery keys, which will help if you forget your password, but these will need to be stored in a safe and secure place so they don't either fall into the wrong hands or get lost.
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by:babyb00mer
ID: 38840180
So, would it be possible to create a partition (I'm running Windows 7 Professional), move some files or folders to it and then use TrueCrypt to encrypt that partition?
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by:Tolomir
ID: 38840225
Nope you install truecrypt then provide an unformatted partition. Start truecrypt. Choose create encrypted partition. This will take a while. Then you select the partition,press mount enter the password
Then you get a new drive ready to take your files.
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by:foxpc123
foxpc123 earned 334 total points
ID: 38840257
Yes, when I've used true crypt you can create a new partition, give it a drive letter and then choose to just encrypt that drive/folder rather than the whole drive if you want to.

We've done this for a couple of clients o.k.
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by:foxpc123
foxpc123 earned 334 total points
ID: 38840268
The beginners tutorial is here - which will show you how easy it is to do;

http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/
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by:marsilies
marsilies earned 166 total points
ID: 38840281
Note that it's best to start with a new partition first, Truecrypt it, then move files to it.

However, if you have a drive with data already on it, you can encrypt it with the data in place.
http://www.truecrypt.org/faq

Can I encrypt a partition/drive without losing the data currently stored on it?

Yes, but the following conditions must be met:

If you want to encrypt an entire system drive (which may contain multiple partitions) or a system partition (in other words, if you want to encrypt a drive or partition where Windows is installed), you can do so provided that you use TrueCrypt 5.0 or later and that you use Windows XP or a later version of Windows (such as Windows 7) (select 'System' > 'Encrypt System Partition/Drive' and then follow the instructions in the wizard).

If you want to encrypt a non-system partition in place, you can do so provided that it contains an NTFS filesystem, that you use TrueCrypt 6.1 or later, and that you use Windows Vista or a later version of Windows (for example, Windows 7) (click 'Create Volume' > 'Encrypt a non-system partition' > 'Standard volume' > 'Select Device' > 'Encrypt partition in place' and then follow the instructions in the wizard).
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by:babyb00mer
ID: 38840704
Yep, I was successful in encrypting a "partition in place" which contained 100 gigabytes of data... thanks for all of your help. Now I want to encrypt a brand new partition on the system disk. The challenge is in creating the new partition. I don't think TrueCrypt does that, does it?
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by:foxpc123
foxpc123 earned 334 total points
ID: 38840873
I'm not sure what Windows OS you have, but generally you can do this within windows itself, if you right click on computer, and then manage.

This will take you to disk management, and from there you can create, delete and manage partitions through that tool. There are better option with Win Vista and Win 7 than Xp though.

We use a 3rd party tool - Paragon which is good, but there are plenty of other alternatives too.
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by:Tolomir
ID: 38840960
No truecrypt cannot create a partition.

It can use only existing partitions empty or not in a destructive (erasing)  or preserving way.

Even windows xp is able to create a partition on the device even if you bounce back to fdisk.
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