Best Free Encryption Software – TrueCrypt

Data encryption is one of the best ways of protecting your sensitive data from data thefts and other security vulnerabilities. And normally data encryption can be divided into two main categories. Either into Hardware encryption (independent of the OS because the encrypting tool is located on a physical chip) or Software encryption (runs on top of the OS).

Some say Hardware encryption is better than the Software version but others disagree. Hardware encryption might have a an advantage of being a bit faster (the encryption process) because that hardware is designed and optimized for that task. But then again these days computers are quite powerful so if you have a powerful computer then this might not necessarily be a valid truth anymore.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a powerful software based data encryption utility that comes absolutely free and runs on GNU/Linux, MS Windows and Mac OSX (cross-platform) then TrueCrypt is certainly one of the best tools that I’ve been using for a long time.

Let’s have a look at some of the features…

*. Supports encrypting both virtual data volumes (lets you create virtual disk partitions) and actual partitions.

*. Uses “On-the-fly-encryption” method. This is one of the fastest and secure methods of encryption and is also ideal if you want to easily create a portable encrypted data volumes.

*. Supports creating “hidden” volumes.

A hidden volume is a virtual data partition (hidden) inside of the visible virtual data volume. The benefit is that, even if you mounted the encrypted volume in TrueCrypt the data inside the hidden volume will still be invincible until you mount that hidden volume manually.

Although while using this feature you must be careful otherwise you can easily over-write the data in that hidden volume (read the TrueCrypt manual as it explains things more accurately).

*. Add/Remove Passwords.

*. Add “key” files from disk or generate secure ones automatically.

*. Supports few major data encryption methods such as : AES, Serpent, TwoFish, AES-TwoFish and a few others.

*. Change hash algorithms.

*. Benchmark testing between different algorithms.

*. File systems supported (for the virtual data volumes): Fat, NTFS, Ext2/3/4.

*. Bookmark data volumes or keep then in History (disabled by default).

*. Enable/Disable caching passwords in memory (disabled by default).

*. In the portable mode, while running on another computer it literally leaves almost no trace of its existence (temp files, registry entries etc). But TrueCrypt does tell us that by analyzing the registry it might be possible to find some traces that expose TrueCrypt might had been run.

*. You can make few other tweaks using the settings window as well.

You can install TrueCrypt in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by first downloading the package (supports 32/64bit versions) from this official TrueCrypt download page (also holds packages for other operating systems).

Few installation notes for the GNU/Linux users …

1. Under “Linux” subheading in that page, just make sure to download the package named “standard …” because if you go with the “console …” one you’ll end up without a GUI (yikes! :)).

2. Then once the download is complete, just double click on the file and extract the content to say your “Home” folder.

3. Now open a Terminal and change your directory to the extracted location (it is usually the ‘Downloads’ folder).

4. Now simply enter the below command in the Terminal window and press Enter (just replace your downloaded TrueCrypted package name with the below text in Green).

sh ./truecrypt-7.1-setup-x86

5. Then when asked choose “Install TrueCrypt” to install it to disk (as in the below screenshot) or “Extract .tar Package file” if you want to make a portable version of TrueCrypt.

6. Th rest is pretty automatic. When everything complete, it’ll ask you to press the “Enter” key and that’s about it!.

I can’t run the TrueCrypt portable file in my USB drive in GNU/Linux. Why?

This is a common issue and the most possible reason is that your USB drive (or whatever the device that you use) uses MS Windows file system such as: Fat or NTFS. And GNU/Linux does not let executable files to be run in those file systems with ‘read & write’ permissions.

So the easiest solution is to re-mount the Windows file system with program execution enabled.

1. For that first un-mount the mounted USB or the device. Use the below command for that (just replace “sdb1” with your device path).

sudo umount /dev/sdb1

2. Now re-mount it with data execution enabled by using the below command.

sudo mount -o exec /dev/sdb1 /mnt

Again replace both “sdb1” with your drive path and “/mnt” with your preferred device mounting location.

After doing that you should be able to run TrueCrypt in GNU/Linux from your USB or any portable device!. As mentioned above, make sure to read its manual as it contains valuable information. Good luck.

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