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Recently my USB was confiscated a... disagreement, and it was scanned through and numerous project files were deleted in them. While nothing can be done now, I'd like to prevent this in the future by encrypting a USB drive.

I understand that applications like TrueCrypt can create a disk image on my USB to encrypt it, but if I'm moving around and usign or lending out the USB to other people and want to access and add in/remove files in the encrypted USB, how can I do so if TrueCrypt is not originally installed on the computer?

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Related: superuser.com/questions/174931/… –  studiohack Dec 14 '10 at 18:54

6 Answers 6

These steps should work,

  1. Use a FAT partition on the USB so it is accessible across platforms.
  2. Keep portable versions of Truecrypt for each OS you will use your data on.
  3. Create a encrypted volume on the same FAT partition

Now, you should be able to plug this USB on any of your platforms and use the correct portable Truecrypt binary to mount the encrypted volume, edit and close it again.

Some references,

  1. Truecrypt FAQ
  2. HowToForge TrueCrypt
  3. Article on cross platform encrypted drive using TrueCrypt
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FreeOTFE is a lot like TrueCrypt but comes with another piece of software, FreeOTFE Explorer, that allows you to browse the drive without having administrator privileges.

From their website:

Highly portable - Not only does FreeOTFE offer "portable mode", eliminating the need for it to be installed before use, it also offers FreeOTFE Explorer - a system which allows FreeOTFE volumes to be accessed not only without installing any software, but also on PCs where no administrator rights are available. This makes it ideal for use (for example) with USB flash drives, and when visiting Internet Cafés (AKA Cybercafés), where PCs are available for use, but only as a "standard" user.

In addition, you may also consider reading the Lifehacker guide to locking down a flash drive.

Another option you may like is to conduct everything over SSH. Despite leaving the data on a live computer, you get the added benefit of access control and letting different people use different passwords.

Just promise me, though, you won't be helping al Qaeda with this encryption ;-).

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You don't have to encrypt the entire USB. Use a trucrypt container (just a file on the USB) and have truecrypts portable version on the same USB.

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Well... ... I'm using a Mac at where I am right now so unfortunately cannot use a portable .exe TrueCrypt on a USB. :\ –  flemmings Dec 14 '10 at 12:29
@flemmings TrueCrypt is available on a Mac. Go to their website. –  digitxp Dec 14 '10 at 12:35
Truecrypt portable still requires administrator privileges, however. Truecrypt Explorer, which doesn't, hasn't been developed for years. –  digitxp Dec 14 '10 at 12:36

If you have Windows 7 you could use bitlocker.


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Only in Enterprise and Ultimate versions of Windows 7 (or Vista): windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/… + Also available in Windows Server 2008. –  koiyu Dec 14 '10 at 16:26

If you want cross-platform encryption (Windows-Mac anyway), I recommend getting a DataTravlere Locker+ from Kingston. It encrypts your data at the hardwarelevel.

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Also take a look at IronKey. They support encryption in the hardware.

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