24

How can I encrypt an external device (i.e. USB keys, external hard-drives, memory sticks, etc.) so that it would subsequently be readable/writable on any computer that I plug it in?

For instance, it should then be possible to easily plug the encrypted device on a Linux, Windows, or OS X machine, and be able to access the contents without any fuss.

How can I do that?

3
7

You could also consider installing Truecrypt on your USB. Once installed, use TrueCrypt to create an encrypted container, which can be opened with the software on the key. Saves you time installing software on multiple computers, still leaving you with the encryption you wanted.


Update since 2014, from TrueCrypt site:

WARNING: Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues

This page exists only to help migrate existing data encrypted by TrueCrypt.
The development of TrueCrypt was ended in 5/2014 after Microsoft terminated support of Windows XP.

1
  • 9
    Veracrypt is considered the successor to Truecrypt. – Flimm Jun 20 '16 at 8:46
7

I would use EncFS which is available for Linux, OS X and Windows. Advantage is that you can also use it with cloud storage since EncFS encrypts on filesystem level and therefore the changes only affect the files changed not a partition as a whole.

On Linux it's as easy as

encfs ~/Dropbox/encrypted ~/Private

I presume it's similar on Windows but I have only tested it between OSX and Linux so far. You can find a little more info here

On Linux Gnome Encfs Manager is a pretty handy GUI tool to manage EncFS encrypted directories, store passwords in keyring, etc.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gencfsm && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y install gnome-encfs-manager
4
  • Could you provide step-by-step instructions on how to encrypt a partition on Linux, and then decrypt it say on Windows? – landroni Jan 26 '15 at 4:08
  • On Linux it's as easy as 'encfs ~/Dropbox/encrypted ~/Private' I presume it's similar on windows but I have only tested it between OSX and Linux so far. You can find a little more info here howtogeek.com/121737/… – binaryanomaly Jan 26 '15 at 9:39
  • Could you please edit your answer and include this info? It would be very useful for future users. – landroni Jan 26 '15 at 11:57
  • Sure, good idea, why not. – binaryanomaly Jan 26 '15 at 14:32
5

Truecrypt is probably your best choice, though you'll need to be able to install the software on any computer you want to use.


Update since 2014, from TrueCrypt site:

WARNING: Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues

This page exists only to help migrate existing data encrypted by TrueCrypt.
The development of TrueCrypt was ended in 5/2014 after Microsoft terminated support of Windows XP.

1
  • 7
    Veracrypt is considered the successor to Truecrypt. – Flimm Jun 20 '16 at 8:46
3

There is DoxBox:

Open-Source disk encryption for Windows

  • Easy to use, with a 'wizard' for creating new 'DoxBoxes'.
  • Full transparent encryption, DoxBoxes appear as removable disks in Windows Explorer.
  • Explorer mode lets you access DoxBoxes when you don't have admin permissions.
  • Compatible with Linux encryption, Cryptoloop "losetup", dm-crypt, and LUKS. Linux shell scripts support deniable encryption on Linux.
  • Supports smartcards and security tokens.
  • Encrypted DoxBoxes can be a file, a partition, or a whole disk.
  • Opens legacy volumes created with FreeOTFE
  • Runs on Windows Vista onwards (see note below for 64 bit versions).
  • Supports numerous hash (including SHA-512, RIPEMD-320, Tiger) and encryption algorithms (Including AES, Twofish, and Serpent) in several modes (CBC, LRW, and XTS), giving more options than any other disk encryption software.
  • Optional 'key files' let you use a thumb-drive as a key.
  • Portable mode doesn't need to be installed and leaves little trace on 3rd party PCs (administrator rights needed).
  • Deniable encryption protects you from 'rubber hose cryptography'.

After open-source computer program FreeOTFE for on-the-fly disk encryption (OTFE) got discontinued, the DoxBox fork sprung up.


This means that you can encrypt a partition using LUKS (How to encrypt external devices?), and then access it from a Windows machine using DoxBox.

0

I would suggest Kruptos 2 Pro encryption software if you want to use your files on Windows, Mac OS and Android. I would suggest Kruptos 2 Pro is best fit along with any cloud folder integration. Kruptos does support USB drive as well. You can use simply right click context menu.

4
  • That site has an SSL Certificate Error. Users notified of this error may be reluctant to load the page. – Internet User Jun 2 '19 at 2:29
  • I'd chance to check the www.kruptos2.co.uk site again, it looks like they have enabled SSL now. – Thi Jun 28 '19 at 12:59
  • Nope: still don't. Here's what I see: i.stack.imgur.com/sUve8.png. A security tool that doesn't have a secure website? Not a place I'd venture to go. I'm out. – Gabriel Staples Jul 22 '19 at 16:32
  • An update, I'd to upgrade kruptos 2 pro to latest version and their site is protected by SSL now. – Thi Apr 23 '20 at 15:01
-1

The problem with free solutions is that apart from a few, most of them are usually not well maintained or well supported. You have to wait for compatibility updates and bugs resolutions. It is also better to go for container encryption than drive or disk encryption, specially for external drives, as they are more flexible and easier to manage. If you are willing to spend a little, I can suggest BestCrypt containers. They are supported on Windows, Linux, Mac and even Android with a number of algorithms. Instead of encrypting your USB, you can create a container the size of your USB, external hard drives etc. and access them on each platform.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.