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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 20: Create a Password-Protected Disk on Your PC

Level Advanced

Platform Windows, Linux

Cost Free

The next level in organizing your digital stuff is considering privacy and safety. Everyone has some files she wants to protect from intruders or others who have access to her computer. If you use online storage, exchange sensitive information over email, or store data on an easily lost CD or thumb drive, you may want to encrypt that data to keep it from getting into the wrong hands.

When you encrypt data, you use a special algorithm to scramble the bits that make up that file into nonsensical information, which can be restored to its meaningful state only with the right password.

TrueCrypt is a free, open-source encryption application that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Given the right credentials, TrueCrypt creates a virtual hard drive that reads and writes encrypted files on-the-fly. This hack explains how to encrypt your private files using TrueCrypt on Windows and Linux.

Set Up the Encrypted Volume Location

Here’s how to set up an encrypted virtual disk with TrueCrypt:

1. Download TrueCrypt from http://truecrypt.org. Install and launch it.

2. Click the Create Volume button to launch a wizard that prepares the encrypted drive location. Choose Create an Encrypted File Container, click Next, and then select Standard TrueCrypt volume and again click Next.

3. On the Volume Location page, click the Select File button, navigate to the location where you want to store your encrypted ...

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