There’s lots of reasons why you might want to keep your files secured and hidden away. Maybe you have some personal information that you don’t want everyone else using the PC to find. Maybe you live in a country with a highly oppressive regime which doesn’t allow you to have much personal privacy. You might just not like the idea of every member of airport security being able to access your laptop and all files on request. Or maybe you just really don’t want anyone to find your porn folder.
There’s a couple of different topics to cover here, but this post is going to focus on password protecting and hiding your files.
The main tool you’re going to want to use for protecting and hiding your files is a little program called TrueCrypt. Using this program you can create an archive of any size, with any filename and put it anywhere on your hard drive that you’d like. Accessing the archive is simply a case of finding the file within the folder, then entering the password. After that it appears on your system as another hard drive or USB drive.
The file itself contained no references leading back to TrueCrypt, and TrueCrypt keeps no records on which files its protecting. So basically unless you know exactly where a file is already, you’re not going to find it. This also means that if TrueCrypt is not installed, or kept on a separate USB stick, then there’s generally no indication that it’s being used.
Even saying that, it’s still a good idea to be creative when naming the file and thinking where to put it. Is anyone really going to notice an extra font file in the Windows folder for instance? How about a similarly named data file in a games folder that’s indistinguishable from the others? Obviously where it can be hidden well depends a lot on the file size. A font file 20gb in size might raise a few eyebrows, but a number of 2gb files in a game’s texture folder named “2fortObjects.dat” won’t draw too much attention.
Another handy feature is that you can actually create 2 passwords for any TrueCrypt file. One opens up the data you actually want to secure, while the other brings up an entirely different set of files. If you want to get really sneaky then you can always hide the files you want secured within another archive within the this hidden folder. You can repeat this a number of times if you like, but after a point its so hidden that the only way someone could get that deep is if they already have your passwords.
All in all, this is probably one of the most secure ways to hide and protect your files, and since its free and has some pretty detailed documentation its quite easy to figure out how to get started with.