back up, decryption, encryption, freedos, hard drive, maintenance, password, repair, rsync, spinrite, syncback, synchronise, Tech, thumb drive, truecrypt, usb
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Last time we ended with showing you how to encrypt your thumb drive. Now we’ll resume and show you how to make using encryption a little less inconvenient.
We can minimise the inconvenience of using TrueCrypt by going back to the “autorun.inf” file we created before. I didn’t write the autorun script that I use for TrueCrypt, I copied it from a post on “EricsProjects” blog (follow the link for the script). With that script, I get this window when I plug in and autoplay my USB drive:
Note: Follow his instructions about copying TrueCrypt to your drive or this won’t work. You need TrueCrypt installed on the thumb drive if you’re going to be able to decrypt it somewhere other than your home computer.
All you have to do is select the TrueCrypt option, then you are given a prompt for the password to decipher the encrypted volume. Once this is done, you can just run your normal back up routine. This is of course a subjective thing to say, but I think an extra double click and password entry per-plug-in is a small price to pay for knowing that if you loose your drive, nobody will be able to read your files.
Finally, I said in part 1 that my thumb drive could repair my hard drive didn’t I? Well yes, but there’s one catch though. Up until now, the software I have recommended has been free of cost. The hard drive repair program I am using is Steve Gibson’s “SpinRite” [Wikipedia] which costs $89 US. I’d heard so many testimonials on the “Secuirty Now” podcast, that I finally decided I must get it. Many of the testimonials were about people who didn’t want to buy SpinRite, but had finally bought it out of desperation when their hard drives seemed inoperable, making strange noises, etc. Those people then reported that their drives were brought back to life by using SpinRite (running it for days on end in extreme cases). If used routinely before problems occur, it can help the hard drive’s own systems help detect and avoid problem areas on the disk platters.
The way SpinRite works means it needs exclusive access to your drive, so you must install SpinRite to some removable media, then boot your computer from that media. This has the advantage that it is truly platform independent (it utilises the “FreeDOS” operating system). Here is a picture of it in action:
So, there we have it. A USB stick that keeps a back up of all your irreplaceable data. You have the assurance of knowing if a bad guy finds it, your privacy is safe and if a good guy finds it ,they can get in touch with you to arrange its return. Finally, if your hard drive seems to have died on you, not only do you have a safe copy of your files, but you can probably return the drive to service by booting from this same little USB stick and running SpinRite.
Please let me know if you have any improvements on what I’ve posted.