The open-source solution VeraCrypt can encrypt complete hard disks, but also use individual areas on hard disks to create an encrypted container. Here, users can encrypt data quickly and easily.VeraCrypt offers users high data security for Windows, macOS, and Linux at zero cost.
Encrypt hard drives with VeraCrypt
VeraCrypt is available as a free open-source solution for Windows, Linux, macOS, and FreeBSD. The tool can also be used in Windows as an alternative to BitLocker. Those who do not want to install VeraCrypt can also use the mobile variant for Windows.
We show in this article the possibilities of the installable version for encrypting hard drives. VeraCrypt can create encrypted areas on a hard disk via a wizard, also called containers. In addition, the system hard disk and other hard disks can be encrypted via a wizard.
Install and set up VeraCrypt
The first step is to download the executable file. On the PC on which VeraCrypt is to be installed, the executable file is started. After that, the user account control message is started, and then the installation language is selected. German” is also available here.
After confirming the license conditions, it can be selected whether VeraCrypt should be installed or whether the wizard should only unpack the archive. With this variant, VeraCrypt can also be used. Afterward, the directory for the installation can be selected, and also the creation of icons to start VeraCrypt. With “Install” the tool is installed, with “Finish” the wizard is closed. VeraCrypt suggests opening the user manual after installation.
VeraCrypt is then started and is available for creating containers or encrypting entire data media. Various options are available via the “Settings” menu item, with which VeraCrypt can be adapted to one’s own requirements.
Encrypt system hard disk or external hard disk
In addition to creating containers in which data is encrypted, VeraCrypt can also encrypt entire hard disks, including the system hard disk in Windows. For encryption, the “Create Volume” button is clicked first.
Here it can be selected whether a container file is to be created, which will later be made available as a virtual drive. The option “Encrypt a partition/drive” can be used to encrypt external drives or additional drives in the PC.
If you want to encrypt the hard disk on which Windows is installed, select “Encrypt system partition or system drive” Then select the type of system encryption. Normally “Normal” is selected here.
With “Hidden” the operating system can be hidden. However, this option is hardly reasonable to implement with Windows. After that you have to choose if you want to encrypt the Windows partition or the complete hard disk. After selecting the operating system, the encryption type is selected.
The next step is to enter a password for the encryption. After that, the mouse cursor must be moved in the window until the bar turns green. This will create the key for the encryption. After that, the information that the key has been created will appear.
Creating rescue disks
A rescue disk can be used to boot a system if the boot loader or other files on the hard disk become corrupted. The rescue disk is saved as a ZIP file and must be extracted to a USB stick afterwards. Afterwards, the encryption can be performed.
Creating encrypted containers
In most cases, when using VeraCrypt, not complete hard disks are encrypted, but containers are created that are stored on hard disks. In Explorer, these containers are displayed as a virtual drive. Files that are copied to this drive are encrypted by VeraCrypt. To create it, click on “Create volume” and then on “Create an encrypted container file”.
After that, it is selected whether the container should be created in standard mode, i.e. visible, or whether the volume should be hidden. The difference here is that unauthorized users on the computer cannot find the volume. This further increases security.
Then select where the container file should be stored and which encryption VeraCrypt should use. The size of the container is then selected. After that, the password and key are created again. In addition, the file system of the container can be selected. With “Format” the container is created.
To mount the container as a drive in the file explorer of Windows, the container file is selected via the “File” button. A free drive letter is selected in the upper area and made available as a drive with “Mount”. Files that users copy to this drive are encrypted and stored in the container file. This is also transportable and can be mounted at any time with the password.