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When storing personal data on a USB stick, data needs to be encrypted to ensure privacy. Regrettably, this is far from easy to do without introducing a lot of overhead; ideally, the whole encryption process should done automatically. Does anyone know of a convenient way to encrypt the data on a USB drive?

Update: I am using Windows Vista, although I would prefer a cross-platform solution.

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What OS and version are you using? The higher editions of Vista and Windows 7 come with Bitlocker drive encryption built-in. –  GAThrawn Nov 25 '09 at 13:16
    
Related question (though not answered yet): superuser.com/questions/48084/… –  Gnoupi Nov 25 '09 at 13:17
    
    
Bitlocker on Vista does not support removeable drives like USB keys. Bitlocker-to-go on Windows 7 does, however. Yo ucan also use policies to detemine whether USB media can be used at all, or control them to be read only or allow writing, depending on whether or not they hav ebeen encrypted (eg do not allow writing to a non-encrypted removeable drive) –  AdamV Nov 26 '09 at 13:01
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5 Answers

try truecrypt it suits usb sticks really well. you can encrypt the whole drive or just certain folders. and it's cross platform

from their homepage:

Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux

Main Features:

  • Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.

  • Encrypts an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive.

  • Encrypts a partition or drive where Windows is installed (pre-boot authentication).

  • Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.

  • Parallelization and pipelining allow data to be read and written as fast as if the drive was not encrypted.

  • Provides plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:

    Hidden volume (steganography) and hidden operating system.

  • Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS.

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I use truecrypt

Creates a encryptred folder and then all you do is drag the files into the folder

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The problem with TrueCrypt is the unmounting. You first have to unmount the TrueCrypt volume, and then eject the USB stick (to flush the write cache). –  Dimitri C. Nov 25 '09 at 13:25
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Are you looking for a commercial product like PGP whole disk encryption or something like truecrypt that's more cross-platform compatible? Or perhaps you're looking for something that automatically mounts the crypto drive when you insert an encrypted USB stick that has a crypto volume on it? (or tries to, if it has true random data)

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You could make an encrypted disk image on it and put your files in that or get an ironkey.

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This seeems like it should be a comment rather then an answer. –  Ramhound yesterday
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Use Bitlocker if you are on Windows 7 or 8. You can use Bitlocker in control panel to password protect your USB stick, but if you are using other OSes use TrueCrypt, which is really famous open source.

Besides, I've used Folder Protector, but it can only work with Windows OSes.

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Your last sentence makes little sense. Bitlocker only works on Windows Vista and beyond. This answer provides very little that has not already been stated. –  Ramhound yesterday
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