TrueCrypt Whole Disk Encryption – No CD workaround

By | September 5, 2008

This is primarily a tip meant for Windows XP users.

TrueCrypt is a nifty piece of free open source software that allows you to create encrypted drives. I am sure we will cover it in more detail, but for now this post is about TrueCrypt’s ‘Whole Disk Encryption’ feature and not having a cd burner in the machine you are encrypting. http://www.truecrypt.org/

TrueCrypt allows you to encrypt the whole of your hard drive. Ideal for mobile workers with laptops worried about data theft should their laptop get stolen. Once setup it prompts you for a password at boot to allow you to proceed further and boot into Windows and access your files.

As part of TrueCrypt’s ‘Whole Disk Encryption’ process it wisely creates a recovery cd image specifically for your computer and won’t continue with the setup until you have burned the cd image (iso) and placed it in the CD rom drive for it to read. Bit of a problem if you are using an older computer without a cd burner!

Two solutions…

1) The easiest is to just copy the cd image across a network during the Truecrypt installation process  and then burn the image on a computer with a cd burner. Then just put the newly burnt cd in the laptop and et voila.

2) You can install ‘Daemon Tools’ before you start the TrueCrypt ‘whole disk encryption’ process. This creates a virtual CD rom drive on your laptop. Then when TrueCrypt creates the cd image (iso) you can just load it via Daemon Tools and TrueCrypt will verify via the virtual cd rom. http://www.daemon-tools.cc/

Obviously you really should burn a copy of the cd image or get a friend to burn your specific cd image for you.The reason why I personally used method number two was due to testing TrueCrypt to see if I wanted to use it on another computer.

Some might suggest that a laptop that does not come with a cd writer is probably too low spec for whole disk encryption. I initially tested TrueCrypt Whole Disk Encryption on a 750Mhz laptop with 512mb ram running Windows XP and didn’t notice much of a difference. I wasn’t about to run games or other resource hungry applications, but proved realiable through testing.

Update 16th Sept ’08: If you want to know how to burn a truecrypt iso, then please read this post:
http://smallbusinesstech.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/truecrypt-burn-the-iso-cd-image/

5 thoughts on “TrueCrypt Whole Disk Encryption – No CD workaround

  1. Blake

    What about a ultramobile machine with no cd-rom at all? Anyone tried using a usb cd-rom or flash drive to boot to the rescue disk?

  2. smallbusinesstech

    Very good point Blake! I am sure Asus eee and other umpc owners would love to know the answer to your second question.

    If someone has done this via usb please leave a comment.

  3. Travis

    I just encrypted an old laptop with a broken CD/DVD drive. I used rawrite32 to put the iso image on a thumb drive instead of the CDROM drive. Worked perfectly.

  4. smallbusinesstech

    Excellent! Well done Travis and thanks for leaving the feedback. Much appreciated.

  5. MM

    use the /n switch…ie. “c:\program files\truecrypt\truecrypt format.exe” /n depending where your install location is.

Comments are closed.