Best way to password protect hard-drives (Windows XP Pro)

I have been looking around on the web for software (freeware, if possible) that will allow me to encrypt my various portable hard-drives and flash-drives. I have done a good bit of research and found some that looked okay, but I would like to hear others’ opinions on how they encrypt (password-protect) their drives and what software they use to do it with.

There are several freeware programs out there and if they are good stuff, then great! However, I’m quite willing to pay for it if I need to in order to ensure getting a quality product.

But I don’t need the encryption to be the absolute most secure, cutting-edge technology out there, I’m just trying to keep nosy/curious people out of my stuff should I happen to misplace the drive. I’m more concerned about the software being stable from a trusted source to avoid any risk of being unable to access my data somehow because something didn’t work quite right.

Any suggestions from Dopers in the “crypt”?

http://www.truecrypt.org/
Use true crypt. It is free. It works well. It is easy to use.

I find putting all my porn under “Tax Documents” works pretty well in a pinch.

Truecrypt is unbeatable: free and as good as anyone not in a TLA could need.

For portable stuff leave enough room to put a portable copy of the software on it and make a single encrypted container to fill the rest of the drive.

You’ll either need to be an admin on the machine to run the portable version, or have it already installed. The only way around that is to pay more for hardware encryption.

It can look complicated, but there is very good documentation and it’s pretty straightforward to use.

I’ll third TrueCrypt. It’s easy to use; open the volume (which is just a file on your regular filesystem), give it the password, and it’s usable just like another drive. It takes a few minutes to create the volume, but I’ve never noticed a lag from using it.

It’s possibly limited to 4GB volumes, but more likely that’s a filesize limit on the underlying file system I happen to put it on.

TrueCrypt was one of the programs that I was looking at but I just wanted to see if anyone here had good results with it before I went with it. Thanks.

Keep in mind that a quality encryption tool such as Truecrypt has no backdoor. In other words, if you forget the decrypt password, there is no antidote. The data is lost forever.

I’ll fifth True Crypt. It has been extremely stable in my experience.

TrueCrypt is the generally regarded as the best freeware encryption program. One tip - if you are not worried about maximum security, select the weakest encryption method. This will improve your read/write performance as well as speed up initial encryption / formatting.

Happy encrypting! :slight_smile:

Thanks! But which method would that be?

I know I have a 50GB volume, not sure what the upper limit would be. As long as your drive is formatted NTFS it shouldn’t be a problem. Of course many flash drives are formatted Fat32, but that might be correctable.

You will get the best speed if you use one of the single encryption methods (e.g., AES, Serpent or Twofish) not one of the multiple encryption methods (e.g., AES-Serpent or AES-Serpent-Twofish). On the Encryption Options screen there will be a Benchmark button - this will run a test on the encryption option you selected and show you the speed. Try this for each of the options, and select the quickest.

I hope this helps. Continued happy encrypting! :wink: