Reliable Encryption for the Rest of Us

    Date26 Jul 2010
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Though encryption is a strong way to safeguard passwords, personal information, and other sensitive data, it can be confusing due to the acronyms and technobabble that surround the topic. Many encryption utilities--such as the BitLocker feature in Windows 7 Ultimate, or the Rohos Mini Drive utility for protecting info on a thumb drive--are available. But my favorite tool covers all the bases: It's free, it's easy, it's effective, and it works on all major operating systems. TrueCrypt lets you create virtual encrypted drives. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux; if you install it on several machines running different OSs, you can open your encrypted files from a network share, thumb drive, or other shared storage device.

    The tool has plenty of advanced options, but the simplest approach--and the one I use--is to create an encrypted file protected by a strong password. When you open your TrueCrypt file, it acts as an additional hard drive with its own drive letter. You can interact with that virtual drive the same way that you might with any storage device: You open, save, drag, and drop files to and from the data store. TrueCrypt handles all the encryption and decryption in the background. When you close the encrypted file, the data is protected until you give the password to open it up once more.

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