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Author Topic: How to secure data on my home PC?  (Read 884 times)
IveBeenBit
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June 11, 2012, 01:26:08 PM
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I'm running Windows 7 and looking for solutions to secure my data against hard drive crashes, things like a fire or other catastrophe that kills my computer, and snoops. So I have some questions about ways to encrypt my data that are reliable.

1st off, I've started using Keepass and changing all my passwords to randomly generated ones by the program. I save the password file on the Windows "skydrive" which automatically keeps an updated copy of the PW file in the cloud and accessible on all my PCs. I'm guessing this is safe because the password file is encrypted. Comments?

Next, I have large amounts of data (think many GB of home movies, photographs, etc.) that is private. I.e. if I get hit by a truck tomorrow and people are picking over my belongings, it would be fine with me if the data became permanently inaccessible. Is there a way to back these up onto a flash drive, or maybe burn a bluray disk and have it encrypted? What software would I use for such a thing?

Also, a question about TrueCrypt, which seems to be the standard for securing data on a home PC. I have read some things that indicate that, suppose I make a 50 gigabyte trucrypt volume. If even one tiny piece of that volume gets corrupted, then I lose all of the data. Is TrueCrypt a solution for day-to-day use of data that you would really just hate it if it were lost? Is it that reliable? I have hesitated to start using TrueCrypt because I don't want to have a disk error or something and then BAM suddenly all my photographs and movies are lost forever.

BTW, I'm running a RAID 1 (mirror) setup on my home PC to protect against hard drive crashes already.

I would be grateful for any solutions & knowledge that people can offer. Thank you.

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June 11, 2012, 03:22:50 PM
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I have read some things that indicate that, suppose I make a 50 gigabyte trucrypt volume. If even one tiny piece of that volume gets corrupted, then I lose all of the data.

No, that's wrong.

Quote from: truecrypt FAQ
What will happen when a part of a TrueCrypt volume becomes corrupted?

In encrypted data, one corrupted bit usually corrupts the whole ciphertext block in which it occurred. The ciphertext block size used by TrueCrypt is 16 bytes (i.e., 128 bits). The mode of operation used by TrueCrypt ensures that if data corruption occurs within a block, the remaining blocks are not affected.

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June 11, 2012, 05:48:55 PM
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I'm running Windows 7 and looking for solutions to secure my data against hard drive crashes, things like a fire or other catastrophe that kills my computer, and snoops. So I have some questions about ways to encrypt my data that are reliable.
Encryption is not about data protection (as in, failure protection). You are talking about RAID which you already have (also, RAID is not a backup).

Next, I have large amounts of data (think many GB of home movies, photographs, etc.) that is private. I.e. if I get hit by a truck tomorrow and people are picking over my belongings, it would be fine with me if the data became permanently inaccessible. Is there a way to back these up onto a flash drive, or maybe burn a bluray disk and have it encrypted? What software would I use for such a thing?
Of course you can backup this data (and you should). USB drives aren't really expensive and you can get a few 2-3TB drives pretty cheap. Freefilesync has proven to be pretty nice for my requirements. Remove the default partitions, create a single new partition on the drive and use this one to create a Truecrypt volume (not a container) with a decent encryption.

Also, a question about TrueCrypt, which seems to be the standard for securing data on a home PC. I have read some things that indicate that, suppose I make a 50 gigabyte trucrypt volume. If even one tiny piece of that volume gets corrupted, then I lose all of the data. Is TrueCrypt a solution for day-to-day use of data that you would really just hate it if it were lost? Is it that reliable? I have hesitated to start using TrueCrypt because I don't want to have a disk error or something and then BAM suddenly all my photographs and movies are lost forever.
Truecrypt containers/partitions don't really care about a bad block. You can (and should) save the volume header somewhere since this block is the most critical part of a volume as it is needed to verify your passphrase.

You need to come up with a backup plan. The key is to keep your backups automated (because you will get lazy and do them less often over time and only realize this when you're screwed). But you still want to check them occasionally to make sure your automation is still working correctly. It's simple to test: a week or month after you started your backup strategy, simulate a worst case: do not touch your main system (don't even boot it), but try to recover everything you need from your backups. Did it work? Good. Did it fail? Fix it quickly. You might find very obvious mistakes you didn't realize: like storing a complex password for your Truecrypt container in Keepass, which you stored inside your encrypted backup disk...

A backup is not a backup as long as something like a drive failure can ruin it (because you will find out that the USB disk fails when you need your backup). Always keep your backup on two drives at minimum. One drive died? Oh well, plug in the other one and restore everything to a new drive. Note that I'm not talking about RAID-1 here, but two completely independant drives to which you backup your data (although data on them both is identical).

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June 15, 2012, 02:45:55 PM
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The most effective way I know is to move the data off your PC and back it up. For less sensitive files a cloud service like dropbox may help. But if you backup your precious files on a USB stick and put it in a safe deposit box you don't even need encryption.
you may also want to up grade your computer to Ubuntu Linux.

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June 15, 2012, 02:47:38 PM
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The most effective way I know is to move the data off your PC and back it up. For less sensitive files a cloud service like dropbox may help. But if you backup your precious files on a USB stick and put it in a safe deposit box you don't even need encryption.
you may also want to up grade your computer to Ubuntu Linux.


You can put a truecrypt volume on dropbox, just use a long phrase as a password. That what I do. Also I backup my volume on the usb stick that keep in my safe.
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