How to Encrypt and Protect Your Data and Files Using VeraCrypt

Lori Kaufman 28-06-2018

VeraCrypt is a free, open-source encryption tool available for all versions of Windows. Here’s how to create and use an encrypted VeraCrypt volume in Windows to encrypt and protect your files 5 Ways to Encrypt Your Daily Life With Very Little Effort Digital encryption is now an integral part of modern life, protecting your personal information and keeping you safe online. Read More on any static or removable drive.


What Is VeraCrypt?

A fork of the now defunct TrueCrypt TrueCrypt Is Dead: 4 Disk Encryption Alternatives For Windows TrueCrypt is no more, but fortunately there are other useful encryption programs. While they may not be exact replacements, they should suit your needs. Read More , VeraCrypt plugs all known security holes in TrueCrypt and improves upon TrueCrypt’s weak encryption methods. VeraCrypt is also backwards compatible with TrueCrypt volumes.

VeraCrypt creates encrypted volumes for securely storing files. It also allows you to encrypt entire system drives or partitions.

We’re looking at the Windows version here, but if you use macOS or Linux, there’s a version of VeraCrypt for you too. To get started with this free tool, head to to download and install VeraCrypt. Be sure to accept the default settings during installation.

How to Create a VeraCrypt Volume (File Container)

To create a VeraCrypt Volume, open VeraCrypt and click Create Volume.

Click Create Volume


On the VeraCrypt Volume Creation Wizard, select the type of volume you want to create. We’re going to create an encrypted volume to store private files, so we accept the default option, Create an encrypted file container.

You can also encrypt a non-system drive or partition, or encrypt the system partition, or entire system drive. To learn about these options, click the More information about system encryption link.

Click Next to proceed.

Create an encrypted file container


The default Volume Type is a Standard VeraCrypt volume, which we are going to use for our example.

If you’re concerned that you might be forced by someone to reveal your password, you can also choose to create a Hidden VeraCrypt volume. Learn more about hidden volumes by clicking the More information about hidden volumes link.

Click Next.

Select the Volume Type


On the Volume Location screen, click Select File. Then, use the Specify Path and File Name dialog box to enter a name and choose a location for the VeraCrypt volume file.

When you installed VeraCrypt, one of the default settings was to associate .hc files with VeraCrypt so you can double-click on a volume file to load it in VeraCrypt. To take advantage of this feature, be sure to add “.hc” to the end of your file name.

If you want the Volume Location dropdown list to contain a history of VeraCrypt volumes you attempted to mount, uncheck the Never save history box. This allows you to select a volume from the list instead of using the Select File button. But this also provides easy access to your volumes and shows their locations to others who might get access to your computer.

Once again, click Next.


Select the Volume Location and volume file name

On the Encryption Options screen, choose an Encryption Algorithm and Hash Algorithm. The default algorithms for both are secure options, if you’re not sure what to use.

Click Next.

Select Encryption Options

Enter the size you want for the VeraCrypt volume in the edit box and select whether that size is in KB, MB, GB, or TB.

Move onto the next screen with Next.

Specify Volume Size

Choose a strong password How to Create a Strong Password That You Will Not Forget Do you know how to create and remember a good password? Here are some tips and tricks to maintain strong, separate passwords for all of your online accounts. Read More for your volume and enter it in the Password box, and again in the Confirm box.

Keyfiles add extra protection to your volume. For our example, we’re not going to use keyfiles, but you can read more about them in VeraCrypt’s help if you decide to use them.

If you enter 20 characters or less for your password, you’ll see a warning dialog telling you short passwords are easy to crack using brute force. Click No to return to the Volume Password screen and enter a longer, more secure password.

The Next button is only available once you’ve entered the same password in both boxes.

Enter a Volume Password

On the Volume Format screen, select the type of Filesystem you want to use. If you’re going to access the volume on macOS or Linux, in addition to Windows, you should select either FAT or exFAT FAT32 vs. exFAT: What's the Difference and Which One Is Better? A file system is the tool that lets an operating system read data on any hard drive. Many systems use FAT32, but is that the right one, and is there a better option? Read More .

Leave Cluster as Default and Dynamic unchecked.

Move your mouse randomly over the Volume Format screen until the progress bar under Randomness Collected From Mouse Movements at least turns green. But the more you move the mouse, the stronger the encryption on the volume.

Then, click Format.

If the User Account Control User Account Control and Administrator Rights on Windows 10 Whether you use an Administrator or a Standard Windows account, what matters is your User Account Control security level. Here's what you need to know. Read More dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

Select the Volume Format

VeraCrypt creates the volume file in the location you specified. This may take a while, depending on the size of your volume.

Click OK on the dialog box that displays when the VeraCrypt volume has been successfully created.

On the VeraCrypt Volume Creation Wizard dialog box, click Next if you want to create another volume. Or click Exit to close the wizard.

Close the VeraCrypt Volume Creation Wizard

How to Mount a VeraCrypt Volume

Now that we’ve created our VeraCrypt volume, we need to mount it to use it.

On the main VeraCrypt window, select an unused drive letter you want to use for your volume. Check File Explorer to see which drive letters are currently being used, and avoid using them.

Then, click Select File. Use the Select a VeraCrypt Volume dialog box to navigate to and select a VeraCrypt volume file.

If you accepted the default setting during installation that associated .hc files with VeraCrypt, you can also use File Explorer to load the VeraCrypt volume. Go to where you saved the VeraCrypt volume file and double-click the file.

Click Select File to mount a volume

The path to the VeraCrypt volume file displays in the dropdown list box.

Click Mount.

Click Mount

Enter your Password. If you remember the Hash Algorithm you selected when you created the volume, select it from the PKCS-5 PRF dropdown list. If not, don’t worry. You can use the default of Autodetection. It just might take a bit longer for the volume to decrypt and mount.

If you used one or more keyfiles when you set up your volume, make sure you check the Use keyfiles box. Then, click Keyfiles and select the same file(s) you used when creating the volume.

Click OK.

A progress dialog box displays while the VeraCrypt volume is decrypted. Depending on how big your VeraCrypt volume is, this may take a while.

Enter password to mount volume

If you entered a wrong password or forgot to select your keyfiles (if you used them when creating the volume), you’ll see the following error dialog box. Click OK to go back to the Enter Password dialog box and enter the correct password and select the correct keyfiles, if you used them.

Mount operation failed

Once the volume is successfully mounted, you’ll see it next to the drive letter you selected, as a virtual disk assigned that drive letter.

To access the volume, double-click on the drive letter in VeraCrypt.

Volume mounted in VeraCrypt

You can also browse to the mounted volume in File Explorer the way you normally browse to any other type of drive. For example, we mounted our VeraCrypt volume using the drive letter Z: and it shows up with that drive letter in File Explorer.

VeraCrypt never saves any decrypted data to disk—only in memory. Data is encrypted in the volume even when mounted. As you work with your files, they are decrypted and encrypted on the fly.

VeraCrypt volume in File Explorer

How to Dismount a VeraCrypt Volume

When you’re done working with the files in your VeraCrypt volume, you can close, or dismount, the volume.

Select the volume you want to dismount in the list of drive letters. Then, click Dismount.

VeraCrypt removes the volume from the drive letter list. When a volume is dismounted, you can move the .hc file anywhere you want. You can back it up The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide We've summarized every backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More to an external drive. Or you can store it in a cloud service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive so you can easily access it on another computer.

Click Dismount

Start Using VeraCrypt to Encrypt Your Private Data

Computers play an integral part of daily life and any sensitive data stored on them (and in the cloud and on external media) must be secured.

VeraCrypt is an easy and reliable way to secure and encrypt your most sensitive data 10 Basic Encryption Terms Everyone Should Know and Understand Everyone's talking about encryption, but if you find yourself lost or confused, here are some key encryption terms to know that'll bring you up to speed. Read More .

Image Credit: AleksVF/Depositphotos

Related topics: Computer Security, Encryption, VeraCrypt.

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