The Best Way to "hide" your files/folders

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This is an article on The Best Way to "hide" your files/folders in Windows.
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Introduction



Before writing this article, I searched the forum for existence of similar articles and found none, so I thought to share this with you all. I have seen many software that offer various ways to hide your files, but none of them was as satisfactory for me as the one I'm about to mention. That's TrueCrypt.

Background



TrueCrypt is a wonderful software which offers "ON-THE-FLY" encryption. Best of all, it's FREE and open-source !

As TrueCrypt.org mentions, the main features of TrueCrypt are :
  • 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.
  • Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.
  • 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.
You can download it for free from : http://www.truecrypt.org/downloads

Using TrueCrypt to hide your files



Now, let me show you how you can hide your files with TrueCrypt.
[ I will tell how to create simple encrypted volumes here. I won't cover Hidden volume/Hidden OS creation. I may cover them in subsequent parts, or you may refer TrueCrypt manual ]

Download and install TrueCrypt 6.2. Open TrueCrypt.exe and then follow the steps below :

STEP 1 : Create a TrueCrypt Volume




Step 1 : Create a new TrueCrypt Volume.
  • Open TrueCrypt.exe
  • Click "Create Volume".

Step 1.1 : Create encrypted file container.
  • Select the highlighted option
  • Click "Next".

Step 1.2 : Select volume type.
  • Select Standard Volume.
  • Click "Next".

Step 1.3 : Enter the location of volume.
  • Enter Path to any file which will act as a volume. ( Example shows "C:\Backup", file Extension is not necessary )
  • Click "Next".

Step 1.4 : Select Encryption Options.
  • I recomment leaving the encryption algorithm as AES because
    • AES is fastest among available options.
    • Although AES 256 is weakest among the available options, it is still very hard to crack.
  • Select any hash Algo.
  • Click "Next".

Step 1.5 : Select Volume size.
  • I have entered size as 6 GB, enter any size you want.
  • Click "Next".

Step 1.6 : Enter the password that will protect the volume.
Warning :
  • I recommend not to use keyfiles because if you loose them or if the content is changed slightly your whole volume will become useless.
  • If you loose your key then you are doomed ! No one can recover your volume.


Step 1.7 : Format !
  • Choose FAT or NTFS File system.
  • Move your mouse inside the window for about a minute.
  • Click Format.

Step 1.8 : Done !
  • After formating is done click OK
  • Then Click Exit

Now you have successfully created a TrueCrypt volume.

STEP 2 : Mounting the volume



You can use a truecrypt volume like any other disk. You can store files, delete them, defragment it, clean it etc.. But before gaining access to the disk, you must mount it like this :


Step 2 : Mounting the volume.
  • Open TrueCrypt.exe
  • Click "Select File"
  • Select the file and click "Open"

Step 2.1 : Select the Drive Letter.


Step 2.2 : Password
  • Enter the correct password for your volume and it will be mounted successfully and will be shown in the Windows Explorer list

STEP 3 : Using the volume



Now that the volume is mounted, you can check it in My Computer :



You can start using it right away. Put all your secret stuff into it. Copying into a TrueCrypt encrypted volume will be slower because files are encrypted in real-time.

STEP 4 : Dismounting the volume



When you are done using the volume, you should dismount it so that no-one else can gain access to the volume :


Step 4 : Dismounting the volume
  • Simply select the drive letter ( here Z: ), and click Dismount.
  • To Dismount all mounted volumes, Click "Dismount All".

Advantages of TrueCrypt

  • Your data is safely hidden inside your volume.
  • Your volume is password protected !
  • Data is not just written, but is encrypted. So, if anyone opens your volume in a hex-editor or anything like that, he won't be able to make anything out of it.
  • There is no way to differentiate a TrueCrypt volume from an ordinary file. Any file say "Report.doc" can also be used as a TrueCrypt volume. People might doubt the exceptionally high file size though.
  • You can also create hidden volumes inside TrueCrypt volumes so that even if you are forced to reveal the password by someone, your files can still be protected inside hidden volume.
NEVER LOSE THE VOLUME PASSWORD / KEY-FILE, ELSE YOUR VOLUME WILL BE COMPLETELY USELESS.

Thanx all for reading this.

Bye and take care.
nimesh's Avatar, Join Date: Apr 2009
Invasive contributor
Nice article.
I guess everyone might be in search of this software to protect their personal files
SaswatPadhi's Avatar, Join Date: May 2009
~ Б0ЯИ Τ0 С0δЭ ~
Thanx, glad to know that you liked it
pradeep's Avatar, Join Date: Apr 2005
Team Leader
Nice article!
SaswatPadhi's Avatar, Join Date: May 2009
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Thanx.

I just forgot to mention something :

You may use TrueCrypt in portable mode, so as to avoid any one suspecting you of using it.
shabbir's Avatar, Join Date: Jul 2004
Go4Expert Founder
Nomination this Article for Article of the month - May 2009
Alex1239's Avatar, Join Date: Jan 2009
Go4Expert Member
Nice article.... thnks a lot...
harshit's Avatar, Join Date: May 2009
Newbie Member
great way....

thanx
SaswatPadhi's Avatar, Join Date: May 2009
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If you like it, please vote for it here : Article of the month - May 2009
saturn's Avatar, Join Date: Jun 2009
Light Poster
Great article