This guide will explain step by step through the process to securely store files in Windows, so that you and only you can access them.
Using a fantastic completely free and open source App you can easily encrypt your files so that it’s impossible for anyone other than you to access them.
- Head over to the VeraCrypt download page and then download VeraCrypt for Windows. When you run the downloaded file it will ask if you want to Install or Extract – choose Install
- When you get to the Setup Options page there are two boxes you’ll want to make sure have checks in them – Associate the .hc file extension with VeraCrypt and Create System Restore point. Select (or don’t) the other three based on your preference.
- When asked if you want to read the Beginner’s Tutorial on using TrueCrypt, click No. This tutorial will guide you through everything.
- Once the installation has completed, launch VeraCrypt from the desktop shortcut (if you opted to create one) or your Start menu.
- On the main VeraCrypt window click the Create Volume button.
- Select the Create an encrypted file container option and then click the Next button to continue.
- Choose Standard VeraCrypt volume and then click the Next button.
- On the Volume Location screen, click the Select File… button.
- Navigate to the folder where you’d like to store your secure volume file. I chose the Documents folder – but any location will do. Then give your volume file a name by entering it in the File name: field. The file name doesn’t matter, but you’ll want to make sure it ends with .hc – the file extension for VeraCrypt files. Click Open when you’re done.
- Back on the Volume Location screen, click the Next button now that you’ve chosen a location and name for the file.
- The default choices in the Encryption Options window are great – so just click the Next button.
- At this point you’ll need to decide how big you want your secure volume to be. It can be as small as a few megabytes or as large as several terabytes. I opted to make a 1 GB (gigabyte) file – large enough to store lots of documents, spreadsheets, pictures and other files. It’s important to note that you can create as many secure volumes as you want, so you don’t need to worry too much about the size – you can always create more later. Once you’ve picked a size, click the Next button.
- Now it’s time to set a password. Every time you want to access your secure files you’ll need to enter this password. If you lose or forget this password you’ll never be able to access the files again. Review the info about a good password choice and then enter your password in the two spaces provided. Click Next when you’re ready to continue.
- You’ll need to create a completely random key, which is done by moving your mouse around the Volume Format window. You’ll notice that as the cursor moves, the Random Pool characters change. The cursor movement helps to create a unique value that VeraCrypt will use. After a good 30 seconds of mouse shaking, click the Format button.
- And now your encrypted volume will be created. Depending on how large you decided to make the file and how fast your PC is, this can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
- When it’s done, click OK.
- Now you can Exit out of the Volume Creation Wizard.
- Back in the main VeraCrypt window, the first thing you’ll need to do is pick a drive letter that you want this ‘volume’ to use. I opted for H:, but it doesn’t really matter which drive letter you choose. Second, click the Select File… button.
- Navigate to the file you created back in step 9, select it, and click Open.
- Click the Mount button.
- Enter your password and click OK.
- Your encrypted volume will mount itself as the drive letter you selected. It’s possible that this step will take a few minutes, and it might even appear as if the program has frozen. Just give it time.
- Open “My Computer” or a File Explorer window and select your newly created drive.
- Now you can copy (or more likely move) any kind of file to this volume, and they’ll be encrypted on the fly.
Very Important: as long as you leave your VeraCrypt drive open, the files and folders contained within it will be accessible to anyone who has access to your PC.
- Click the Dismount button to close the secure volume. You can exit out of VeraCrypt etc. Every time you want to access your secure files going forward, just open VeraCrypt and repeat steps 18-22.
- That’s it! You are now securely storing files on your Windows computer.
Did you know you can also store files in a secure method on your iPhone/iPad? Give it a shot :)