Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Articles covering how encryption works, what it's useful for, what its drawbacks are, when it's exactly the right solution and when it's the only solution.

Can I mark my files so that they can be read, but not copied?

Record companies have been wanting to do this for years: make files that you can use but not copy. If that's what you want, you, and they, are doomed.

Can I protect my data from deletion?

There are many ways to protect data from prying eyes, but as it turns out, preventing malicious deletion is nearly impossible. I'll review what to do.

Can I, or should I, use TrueCrypt for my backups?

Backup and encryption can go together depending on your needs. There are options, beginning with which comes first: the backup or the encryption?

Can someone break encryption just by knowing the encryption algorithm?

Most encryption algorithms are public knowledge. I'll look at what it is about them that keeps people from breaking the encryption.

Does keeping an unencrypted copy of encrypted data make sense?

It sounds counter-intuitive, but keeping an unencrypted copy of encrypted data not only makes sense, but it can protect it from certain types of loss.

Encrypting Using AxCrypt

AxCrypt is a utility which allows you to encrypt a single file with high-strength encryption, either in-place, as a copy, or as an executable.

Encrypting Using LockNote

LockNote is a small, single-purpose utility that excels at encrypting text in a way that is easily shared with Windows users.

Encrypting using Truecrypt

Truecrypt is a flexible & useful way to encrypt data, particularly if your computer could be stolen. I'll walk through setting up a volume.

Encrypting using Zip files

Zip files are ubiquitous and a reasonable solution for encryption. I'll walk through using 7-Zip to encrypt and decrypt files.

How can I protect my email from being read by others using my computer?

When sharing a computer with others it's important to understand the level of trust you have. That dictates how much security will, and won't work.

How can I recover my encrypted data from my flash memory device?

Data recovery from flash drives is problematic enough, but recovering encrypted data from a failing flash drive might be nearly impossible.

How do I back up my Truecrypt encrypted data?

Backing up is critical, but exactly how you backup your Truecrypt encrypted data depends on how you're using Truecrypt and how you secure your backups are.

How do I encrypt a file?

Since most encryption tools are designed to encrypt collections of files, it isn't always obvious what the best approach might be to encrypt just one. I'll look at a couple of alternatives.

How do I encrypt a hard drive using TrueCrypt?

Whole-drive encryption is a little complicated to set up, but it provides a very high degree of data security, particularly for easily lost external drives.

How do I encrypt my backup if it's on an external drive?

Encrypting a backup is important for the security of your data, especially if you travel or live in a high crime area.

How do I encrypt the email stored on my machine?

Email can be encrypted in real-time by storing email data files in a Truecrypt volume that must be mounted before using the email program.

How do I restore a backup from a BitLocker encrypted drive?

BitLocker is Microsoft's encryption technology available in some versions of Windows. I'll explain why I don't use it and don't recommend it for backups.

How do you perform a backup to an external drive that is TrueCrypted?

Backing up data to a drive encrypted using Truecrypt is really no different than backing up to any other drive. I'll review why that is and some of the variations of backing up with TrueCrypt.

How do you run TrueCrypt with Dropbox?

Dropbox files can be encrypted with TrueCrypt. It works well as long as you understand how it synchronizes.

How much does my encrypted wireless connection protect me?

Wireless encryption is important, but it's not as far-reaching as some might believe. We'll look at how far, and what additional steps you might need.

How should I password protect an external drive?

Password protecting an external drive can be done with any good encryption software. Make sure you know how to backup that file for the future.

How should I protect my computer from theft when I leave home?

Keeping your home computer safe from theft and data loss is surprisingly hard. Complete protection isn't simple and simple protection isn't complete.

I've lost the password to a "zip" file. How do I open the file?

ZIP files are a archive format that includes optional password protection. If you don't have the zip file password you may still be able to get in.

My computer was stolen. It's password protected, what files can the thieves see?

Password protecting your Windows login is good, but it does not completely protect your computer's data, particularly if the computer is stolen.

My files turned green and are encrypted. What do I do?

When Windows file system encrypts a file, it will show as green in Windows Explorer. You need the right permissions to unencrypt it.

Should I Compress and Encrypt my backups?

Most backup programs offer the options to compress and/or encrypt the data being backed up. I'll look at the pros and cons.


PGP SIGNED MESSAGE means that a message has been cryptographically signed. That means who signed it can be verified, and tampering can be detected.

Where and how should I backup important documents?

Backing up important documents securely is easily overlooked, and yet very important. I'll look at how to backup important documents safely.

Why won't my Truecrypt volume backup?

When using Truecrypt containers you need to check one of Truecrypt's options - the default setting may interfere with backing up your container.

Will hard disk encryption protect me from network attacks?

Whole disk encryption, or encryption in general, is an important tool in the security arsenal, but it shouldn't be the only tool.