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I supervise the use of a 'community' desktop computer and I would like to allow the use of the desktop via an external drive to a specific individual.

How do I secure the internal hard drive so that no access is possible while using the external drive? Primarily I want to avoid accidental modification of the hard drive.

The desktop runs Vista. The external drive runs Ubuntu.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You could encrypt the Vista drive. With some versions of vista I believe it's possible to encrypt the drive at install time using bitlocker or EFS. If that doesn't work, TrueCrypt has a full drive encryption feature. Either of those methods would prevent any access to the drive from external media.

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either of these methods would prevent any access to the data on the drive, but neither will prevent access to the drive itself. meaning without further measures, overwriting the drive with, say, new partitions and filesystems is not prevented. –  quack quixote Jun 19 '10 at 21:14
That is a very good point. I can't think of any technological solution which would prevent that though, other than setting a hard drive password (which some computers support), thus requiring that you put in the password in order to boot the computer regularly, which would be a pain. Given that the user needs physical access to the machine, and that physical access means they could destroy things if they really wanted, there isn't any perfect solution. If he's looking to avoid accidental modification, this would likely suffice. Malicious actions weren't of concern in the original post. –  nhinkle Jun 22 '10 at 0:05

You cant.

If you allow someone to boot of an external drive there is no way you can protect the data on the installed hard drives.

You can possibly hide it with encryption but you can't protect it from tampering (corrupting the data)

Allowing someone to boot from an external medium is to allow that person complete access to all hardware and data on that computer.

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