Flash-drive adventures

Being able to carry around two gigabytes of data on your key ring is handy.

I recently got a USB flash drive: a JetFlash 110. This is a great piece of hardware. It’s very fast compared to most flash drives I considered. It’s built well and I have no worries carrying it around in my pocket on my key ring. Windows XP recognizes it as a removable storage device when you plug it into a USB port — no drivers needed.

First thing to do when you get one of these: set up an encryption system. You want to be able to carry around the drive with your important data on it, but don’t want to worry about what will happen if you lose it or have it stolen.

The JetFlash 110 comes with security software, but it is not secure. True, it does password-protect data on the drive, but: it also includes a “recovery” utility that you can use to get your data back if you forget your password. Sounds convenient, but what that really means is the data is not secure. If you can recover your data without a password, so can someone else. So don’t bother with the included security software.

I erased the flash drive and then installed TrueCrypt on the drive in traveler mode. TrueCrypt is serious encryption for Windows. It allows you to format partitions of hard drives, or create encrypted files that act like hard drives. And they are actually secure. If you lose your password for a TrueCrypt volume, your data is gone. Just as it should be. Traveler mode allows you to mount your encrypted volume as a hard drive on any Windows XP system without installing drivers or other software. Handy!

I’ve been a user of The Bat for email for quite some time now, and it just keeps getting better. RitLabs has released a special “traveler” version of The Bat called Voyager that lets you take your email with you wherever you go on a flash drive. Works like a charm, and it is fairly simple to synchronize your Voyager database with your desktop The Bat database.

With strong security like what TrueCrypt offers, I can safely carry vital data like passwords, email, source code, etc and not worry about losing it.

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