Workable storage and backup strategy with encryption

I’ve always backed up my files religiously, including having an off-site copy. I recently moved all my files to a new PC and decided to take the opportunity to rethink my organization and backup process.


My main concerned is keeping data files secure. I really don’t care if someone was able to gain access to my movies and music. For general network/Internet protection, I’m relying on typical user authentication. However, the thing that many people overlook on home systems is physical protection. It’s pretty easy to get access to files directly from a hard drive. The solution that follows reduces that risk substantially.

Drive Set-up

The first thing I did was add a new 2TB internal hard drive as Drive Z:. I copied all of my media files (music and movies) to this drive. Then, I created a 200GB encrypted file container on Z: using Truecrypt, a free open-source disk encryption application. This gets mounted as Drive Y: and is the home for all of my data files. Finally, I mounted an entire portable USB drive as a encrypted non-system drive with Truecrypt as Drive X:. This is used for daily backup. What I have essentially is this:

X:, encrypted portable USB drive used for backups
Y:, encrypted file container on Z: used for data
Z:, non-encrypted drive used for media

Since Drive Z: is not encrypted, my media files are available as long as the PC is running. I do this because I like to stream media over the Internet to my iPhone and iPad. My encrypted data Drive Y: auto-mounts upon boot up, but requires me to enter a password. Thus, if someone steals my PC or powers it down, they will not be able to access any of my data files. My external USB Drive X: is similarly inaccessible if the system is powered down. (I really like using these portable USB drives since they don’t require a separate power cord.) I also have the screensaver set to request a password on resume.


My backup software is Cobian Backup, a nice free backup utility. Cobian backs up Drives Y: and Z: to the external USB Drive X:. I only backup a few items on my system Drive C:, for example, the My Documents and Start Menu folders. Why Start Menu? If Drive C: dies, I can use the back up as a guide of what I need to re-install. Drive C: is also backed up to Drive X:.

Closing Thoughts

I really like this new set-up and back-up process. I really don’t have too many really confidential files, but now I really don’t need to worry too much about things ending up in the wrong hands.

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