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lego usbI am steadily carrying more and more information on USB drives these days including the excellent Portable Apps suite USB Office Showdown: Tiny USB Office vs. Portable Apps USB Office Showdown: Tiny USB Office vs. Portable Apps Read More , MP3 music files The 3 Best MP3 Players For Portable USB Drives The 3 Best MP3 Players For Portable USB Drives Read More and Word/text files which I need access to wherever I am.   The accumulation of all these files has made me wonder once again about encrypting it all.

Last year, I covered another encryption possibility – Truecrypt Encrypt Your USB Stick With Truecrypt 6.0 Encrypt Your USB Stick With Truecrypt 6.0 Read More .   But to me, that’s a bit messy.  If the host computer doesn’t give you administrator rights then you would be totally screwed.   You would have a USB encryption system that even keeps you out!   Not quite what I am looking for.

So off I went searching for an alternative and I think I may have found one in the form of Rohos Mini Drive 1.7.   It’s both simple and effective – the two watchwords I live by when searching for software.

To initially install it onto your USB drive, you need to install the Rohos program onto your computer – but once the encrypted drive has been made, you can uninstall Rohos on the computer if you want.  There’s absolutely no need to keep it on your computer once the initial USB installation has been done.

Once you have installed it on your computer, it’s time to quickly set up your drive.   Just open the program and this is what you will see :

rohos1

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Enter your USB key into your computer, and click on “setup USB Key” to start setting up the encrypted drive.  You will then be asked for some details including a password. The encryption process will then begin but you have to be patient. On my USB stick, it took close to 15 minutes for the encryption to be set up.  So don’t get frustrated and start click click clicking around wondering what’s going on.  Just leave it to do its thing.

rohos2

When the encryption has been set up, you will then see a new file sitting on your USB stick. This is the program needed to launch the secret partition which now exists.

rohos3

To open the secret encrypted partition, just double-click on the exe file and you will be prompted for your password which you specified when you set up the partition.

rohos4

After entering your password, a window will open in your Windows taskbar which shows you that the partition has been opened.   You will also see the drive letter which your partition is attached to as well as the amount of free space on your stick.

rohos5

If you now go to your Windows Explorer, you will see that a new drive has been opened up. This is the secret part of your USB stick which now exists and you can now put all secret/personal/confidential files into this partition.   When you are finished, just go back to the above window and click on “disconnect“.   This then closes the partition and removes it from the Windows Explorer drive.

I wouldn’t use Rohos Mini Drive 1.7 to hide state secrets but it is enough to keep casual snoopers at bay from rummaging through your files.  Keep things in here such as your password list and other personal information and then, if you happen to lose your USB stick, you won’t have to worry too much about your information being compromised.

What other encryption methods do you rely on to safeguard the information on your USB stick?   Are you a Truecrypt fan or do you have another favourite alternative?   Let us know all about it in the comments.

  1. SK
    February 14, 2010 at 8:36 am

    here is another app named "Winmend folder hidden", perfect to hide ur files and folders on portable drives(USB) as well as on Hard drives, also its absolutely free of cost.........

  2. shyam
    January 4, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Hi Mark O'Neill,

    Nice useful article,I forgot password of my pendrive and I tried to reset the USB software,none worked for me.Can u help me in finding other way so that i can use my pen drive.

    Thanks in Advance,
    Shyam.

    • Nyk
      January 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

      shyam,
      if you don't need the content on the drive you can always format it.
      is it that easy?? lol

    • shyam
      January 5, 2010 at 5:42 am

      Nyk,

      I tried it and got an error 'The disk is Write protected'.USB has a .exe file known as 'logintool2090' asking for Password.

    • Nyk
      January 5, 2010 at 9:51 am

      shyam, have you tried using fdisk to format the pen drive?
      I don't know a great deal about this technology, so I googled a little to find that it is not so easy to wipe an encrypted partition on a usb stick without first unlocking it.
      Good luck.

  3. Tony Roake
    January 4, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Rohos MiniDrive doesn't work for me.
    I carried out all the instructions for setup to the letter. I get a Rohos icon on the stick drive but when I click on this and enter my password I am told "Your Rohos license does not support this feature. Please upgrade your license". Tried several times now with same result.

    Not Impressed. Software should do what it says it will do. This doesn't. Not on my PC anyway.

    AJR

  4. Jake
    December 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I use this code to hide my files on windows:

    first open a notepad and copy paste this code written here:

    cls
    @ECHO OFF
    title Folder Locker
    if EXIST "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}" goto UNLOCK
    if NOT EXIST Locker goto MDLOCKER
    :CONFIRM
    echo Are you sure u want to Lock the folder(Y/N)
    set/p "cho=>"
    if %cho%==Y goto LOCK
    if %cho%==y goto LOCK
    if %cho%==n goto END
    if %cho%==N goto END
    echo Invalid choice.
    goto CONFIRM
    :LOCK
    ren Locker "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
    attrib +h +s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
    echo Folder locked
    goto End
    :UNLOCK
    echo Enter password to Unlock folder
    set/p "pass=>"
    if NOT %pass%==YOURPASSHERE goto FAIL
    attrib -h -s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
    ren "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}" Locker
    echo Folder Unlocked successfully
    goto End
    :FAIL
    echo Invalid password
    goto end
    :MDLOCKER
    md Locker
    echo Locker created successfully
    goto End
    :End

    then change the YOURPASSHERE to your password.

    then save with a ".bat" extension. :D

  5. iain mckeand
    December 30, 2009 at 1:57 am

    good post - always on the look out for good apps but still like TrueCrypt. I agree it is a bit messy but it has the advantage for me that it is cross platform.

  6. Nyk
    December 28, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Nice application.
    I use an encrypted drive and carry my emails with me on it. Portable Apps Thunderbird. All nicely secured.
    Carry a copy of an antivirus program on the flash drive (avast will scan during windows startup after install) and you can clean up any computer that is infected before you even unlock your encrypted drive.

    Steganography is another nice way of hiding information in plain sight:
    http://www.gaijin.at/en/dlsteg.php
    here is a definition of steganography for those who are interested:
    http://www.garykessler.net/library/steganography.html

    And to run portable apps on your pen drive, here is a site with a whole range of them to choose from:
    http://www.pendriveapps.com

  7. Ace
    December 28, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Can this program be run on a usb drive that already has my files on it or would I be better off moving them to an HDD and then transferring them back once the program has installed?

  8. Dels
    December 27, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    how about computer in public area such as internet caffe? especially where there's only account with no-admin privilages... do we can mount the encrypted drive? or it will act as it were read-only (browse only partition)?

  9. truefire
    December 27, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    @infamous: Use http://www.avast.com as an antivirus, or even http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/ . Those should detect and delete viruses immediately from flash drives. Hint: Your friend has a virus on his flash drive! Duh! Format the flash drive. (google it)

  10. infamous
    December 27, 2009 at 10:24 am

    does it protect my usb and computer from viruses. I always end up having virus on my computer when i plug in my friends usb. Is there any solution for this. please help

  11. Jeb
    December 24, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Good post.
    It is, however, possible to run TrueCrypt from a USB drive on a computer on which you do not have administrator rights. Just put Configuration.xml, TrueCrypt.exe, and truecrypt.sys on the USB drive and run it from there. Works!

    • Pat
      December 30, 2009 at 12:15 pm

      Jeb, I haven't been successful with running TrueCrypt from a USB drive without having Admin rights.

      Can you be give more details on how you did it?

  12. BenS
    December 23, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    According to the comments on download.com it seems that the free version does not support password protection for USB's.

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 24, 2009 at 3:10 am

      There is indeed password protection on the application. Wouldn't be much of an encryption program otherwise!

  13. Paul
    December 23, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Unfortunately, it looks like this doesn't give you the ability to mount this drive on Mac OS or. Linux

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 24, 2009 at 3:10 am

      Oh OK I apologise for that. Since I don't have a Mac and I don't run Linux, I couldn't find that out. Thanks for clarifying.

    • Oon
      December 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm

      I have been looking for a program to either password-protect or encryption-protect to instal on USB/portable HD for Mac, but failed miserably. Anyone knows of one? If not, will a genius help out on this?

  14. Jon
    December 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I would not trust encryption software unless this is open source and open to review.

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 24, 2009 at 3:11 am

      Well as I said, don't use this app for REALLY sensitive stuff but just for storing a few files, it isn't bad. Better than no encryption at all.

  15. ben nguyen
    December 23, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    For all you programmers out there.. is there a way to do something like this programatically?

    i.e. change the mass storage driver such that the file/folder protection is there without installing having to install anything?

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