external hdd password protect??

Discussion in 'PC and I.T support/Advice posts' started by mercmanuk, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. mercmanuk

    mercmanuk Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    is it possible to password protect an external hdd so if stolen the information cant be accessed.if yes how is it done

    cheers all
     
  2. Spinal

    Spinal Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Yes, there are two ways of doing this - both involve encryption.

    Some external hard drives will have a built in utility - in that case just follow the instructions for your specific drive.

    Otherwise, all you need is a popular encryption program (I'm a fan of the PGP encryption algorithm). All you need to do is then encrypt your hard drive; to open the files you will need both the software and your password.

    I've found that leaving a copy of the software on the hard drive (unencrypted of course) works quite well, as it allows me to install the software on any machine the hard drive is connected too.

    Michele
     
  3. Sp!ke

    Sp!ke Administrator Staff Member

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    Easy way would be to EFS the data folder on the drive but then the encrypted folder contents could only be accessed from that particular PC... by that particular user unless you added another machine\username to the EFS folder rights.

    Right click the folder, click Advanced and then encrypt data and follow the bouncing ball. Very easy actually.

    Encryption will be seamless and invisible on that PC but totally unreadable on any other unless you specify computer and username credentials in permissions of EFS file system. If you have sensitive data, this is very effective and sound solution.

    Word of warning however, if you lose the accounts with rights over the data you lose total access to the data so make sure you have a backup. (data will be backed up unencrypted btw)

    Alternatively there's lots of 3rd party software out there but most require intervention which can be a pain and is often sluggish. PGP is one of the most well known.

    A quick and dirty option is to insert the disk into a laptop as a primary drive temporarily so as to password protect the drive in the Bios. Then remove the disk and replace the original drive and from them on, access will require a password from any PC. It’s pretty secure, & cheap and easy. (to get around it you’d need to replace the disk controller)
     
  4. Spinal

    Spinal Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Never tried that... sounds interesting! I'm going to try it as soon as I get my hands on a free HD!

    Michele
     
  5. flango

    flango MB Club Veteran

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    go with what sp!ke says above EFS a good way of doing what you require nice and clean too but ensure you have a separate back up copy
     
  6. fuzzer

    fuzzer MB Club Veteran

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  7. Spinal

    Spinal Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Forgot to mention, most of the solutions offered above will mean you will need to stick to a Windows machine.

    With a hard-drive with a built in encryption system (like fuzzer's) it may work cross platform; and there are implementations of PGP which are cross platform... but always check before encrypting your data (and keep a secured copy of your data unencrypted, like others suggest)

    Michele
     
  8. columb

    columb Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    http://www.truecrypt.org/

    That's what you are looking for! Free, really cross-platform etc:)

    Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux

    Main Features:
     

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