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TrueCrypt - Encrypting an Existing Drive

TrueCrypt is a software that can help you encrypt your data, thereby keeping your data secure. There are many ways to use TrueCrypt, but one of the most common question is "how to encrypt your existing data drive?" The classic answer has always been: 1) encrypt an empty drive; and 2) copy the data to the new encrypted drive. That's because previously, TrueCrypt couldn't encrypt an existing drive. Now there is a way and this article details the process.

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The catch is that you can't do it on all operating systems and you can't do it with all TrueCrypt versions.

First of all, you should get the latest version of TrueCrypt. As of this writing, TrueCrypt version 7.1a can encrypt an existing data drive in place.

Second, you need an operating system that can perform the encryption on an existing drive. With Windows, you'll need Windows Vista or greater. Any previous Windows version cannot perform this task. For example, if you attempt to perform in-place encryption on Windows XP, you'll get the following error message:

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Once you have the requirements down and have a system that meets the requirements, then it's time to get started with encrypting your existing data on your existing drive. First, of course, you'll have to install TrueCrypt on you computer if you haven't already. If you already did, then launch it. The screen shot below shows the main TrueCrypt screen.

On the main screen, click the "Create Volume" button to get started. The following "Volume Creation Wizard" will pop up.

Select "Encrypt a non-system partition/drive". We are assuming you are encrypt an entire drive that only contains your sensitive data. If you are encrypting your primary hard disk, then select the last option.

On the next screen, select "Standard TrueCrypt volume". If you are more advanced user, you can select the "Hidden TrueCrypt volume". But that's details for another article.

On the next screen, it ask you to select a device. Use the "Select Device..." button to choose the drive you want to encrypt. Once you have selected the drive, push "OK". The click the "Next >" button to move on.

This next screen is the key to this entire article. Here, you tell TrueCrypt whether you want to start with a new encrypted drive or encrypt an existing drive. Be sure to select "Encrypt partition in place". Otherwise, you will wipe your data drive. Double check this screen before proceeding.

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