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Encrypting drives

Earlier last week one of my external hard-disks went kaput. Though it’s fair to assume the recent travel could have led to this, my guess is that it was just a case of an ill-fated drive. While I did lose all the data on that drive, I thankfully had duplicate copies of the over 200GB data on other drives or machines. This is the first time that I’m losing a hard-drive and I’m so glad I was prudent enough to have multiple copies. All thanks to the folks over at Backblaze who frequently publish hard-drive failure statistics on their stock!

Now, losing that data got me thinking if I was really wise in just storing that data naked without any encryption. If I did want to claim the warranty on the drive, I will have to send over the hard-drive to Seagate. I am just not comfortable sending it over now since technically, most if not all of it, can be forensically retrieved. On that thought while researching on possible encryption tools, I landed on VeraCrypt. I instantly formatted my backup drives, setup an encrypted container and pointed my selfhosted Nextcloud installation to that virtual ‘drive’. The initial formatting does take time since VeraCrypt replaces data bit-by-bit and creates a clean slate. Once that is done, decrypting the data is just a matter of seconds. While at it, I also subjected all my other hard-drives to SMART tests and badblock tests to make sure they were following suit!

It’s been about two weeks and I am super impressed with the ease and functionality of Veracrypt. It definitely is an additional step in the workflow. However, as they say – Privacy comes at a cost and I am willing to go that extra mile for an overall peace of mind.

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  • Srikanth Perinkulam