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I carry my external hard drive around with me sometimes, and was wondering if there was a way to password protect the entire drive, with no hassles or anything, just a simple password protection...if possible this solution should prevent someone from trying to format the drive...thanks!

note: should be compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7, not worried about Mac.

EDIT: I want a solution that does NOT involve encrypting the drive, I'm too leery of encryption, at least just yet...

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Asking for the drive not to be encrypted is like asking how to write something on a piece of paper that nobody can read but which isn't encrypted. I don't think you need to be worried about encryption itself - the losing of passwords is much more likely to cause problems and you wouldn't do that would you? –  Neal Aug 12 '10 at 6:05
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Reopened the question and made it more clear that you want a solution without encryption. I don't know if there is an answer to that, but at least it's not a duplicate. –  Gnoupi Aug 12 '10 at 8:15
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It's not what you're interested in hearing - but I thought I would just point out that @Neal is correct. If you "password protect" something without encryption it does not actually protect it. For example, the password you use to log on to your computer? Easy to bypass. The file permissions on your hard drive? Easy to bypass. Encryption is the only way to ensure that your data cannot be read without the relevant key, because there is no bypass. I'd recommend at least looking at encryption solutions, they'll keep your data safe. –  DMA57361 Aug 12 '10 at 8:26
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I'm just gonna chime in agreement with all this - it's trivial to take your drive and then, hey, I have all your data! You need to encrypt it if you're worried about theft. –  Shinrai Aug 12 '10 at 14:16
    
guy, if you do not encrypt that, if you can block access to hd using windows, people can easily bypass protection pluging-in hd on machine with other SO (like linux) –  kokbira May 2 '12 at 12:09
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The only way I can see to make this possible is to use the password protection mechanisms of Parallel ATA (aka IDE). The PATA spec allows setting a hard drive password:

hard drive passwords and security

The disk lock is a built-in security feature in the disk. It is part of the ATA specification, and thus not specific to any brand or device.

( http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/AT_Attachment#HDD_passwords_and_security )

If the disk is password-protected, you need the password to unlock it before it can be accessed.

However I would rather advise against this: This feature of ATA is seldom used, and you need special software on the host computer to use it (which in turn normally needs admin privileges to install on the host computer). Also I'm not sure it will work with removable drives, and I believe Serial ATA does not have it. Finally, it can be defeated using special software (or hardware tinkering) on most drives (though this can be tricky).

Other than that, I don't believe there is a solution to your problem. If you want to prevent others from reading or manipulating the data, encryption (specifically full disk encryption / FDE) is the way to go, e.g. TrueCrypt. This is reasonably cross-platform, usable and secure. It will however not prevent someone from formatting the drive.

As to protection from formatting:

If you want to prevent people from destroying the data on the drive, you need to keep it physically secured anyway. If someone just wants to destroy the data, they can just damage the drive...

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hey fellas its very simple take a screw driver and take internal hard drive out of your notebook. once u will boot the sys it will not read hd. than insert external hard disk and reboot your system with a cd of windowrs in DVD ROM. Install windows on external hdd. than reboot the system and go in settings-security-password to hdd takeout external hdd and put back your internal hdd. now wenever u will connect external hdd to the sys it will ask for hdd password before opening it.

enjoy

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I think the BitLocker tool of Windows 7 is the most reliable tool to protect an external or removal drive. Though it will encrypt your drive but nothing to worry about the BitLocker encryption, you can trust on it. I found a tutorial @ http://techstrick.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-to-password-protect-usb-drive-in.html where they describe about using BitLocker to password protect USB drive but this tutorial is also applicable for other drives, like external hard drive, internal hard disk drive etc.

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use the encrypt solution so you will be sure that it is pratically secure –  kokbira May 2 '12 at 12:10
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