We’ve talked extensively about TrueCrypt and VeraCrypt for encrypting file containers, partitions, whole drives or your operating system. In this article, we’ll streamline your usage of those programs by using Favorite Volumes. Both programs have two favorites lists:
Favorite Volumes organize a list of frequently used container files, partitions or drives that you can manually or automatically mount. This is the type we’ll be talking about today.
System Favorites list containers, partitions or drives that the system automatically mounts after booting. The big differences between System Favorites and Favorite Volumes is System Favorites mount drives before any Windows services or applications are loaded and use the same pre-boot authentication password used for your system encryption. As such, you can only use System Favorites if you encrypt your entire operating system, which requires a password when you first turn on your computer (and before Windows loads). Because System Favorites aren’t as widely used, I won’t be addressing them today.
Favorite Volumes offer several advantages worth considering:
- Convenience: Favorite Volumes enable one-click selection of encrypted volumes. You’ll still need to enter the password, of course, but you don’t need to hunt down the file or partition, choose a drive letter or manually configure mount options.
- Consistency: Using Favorite Volumes ensures the mounted volume uses the same drive letter each time, assuming the letter is not already in use when you select the favorite. This is critical if you install programs on encrypted volumes or use shortcuts to access files within encrypted volumes. Likewise, it ensures the same mounting options are chosen, such as mounting as read-only or removable media.
- Speed: Favorite Volumes can automatically mount volumes when their associated device is connected to the computer or whenever you log in to your computer.
There is, however, one disadvantage to using Favorite Volumes. If others have access to your computer, the Favorite Volumes list will point other users directly to your encrypted volumes. Other users still won’t be able to access dismounted volumes without the appropriate password, but they’ll know the volumes exist. This might not be a big deal, but if you’re using obscurity to help protect your files, then Favorite Volumes compromises that effort. For example, if you hide your tax returns in a file named “vacationpic.jpg” and bury it deep in your folder structure, then someone simply needs to visit your favorites list to find the file.
Setting Up Favorite Volumes
1. Mount your encrypted volumes as you normally would.
2. Right click the mounted volume in VeraCrypt/TrueCrypt and select Add to Favorites.
You can also access this option by selecting the volume and clicking Favorites > Add Mounted Volume to Favorites. When you use either method, a window will appear allowing you to organize your favorites. If you ever need to open this window again, click Favorites > Organize Favorite Volumes and then select the volume you wish to edit.
3. Optionally, click Move Up or Move Down if you need to change the mounting order of favorites. This is only necessary if you have multiple favorites and need to ensure one volume is mounted before another, such might be the case if you have a volume residing within another volume.
If you choose to automatically mount all favorites, VeraCrypt/TrueCrypt will mount the volumes in the order they appear in the list.
The most useful options, in my opinion are:
Mount Selected Volume Upon Logon = This option automatically mounts the encrypted volume (and prompts for the password) whenever you log in to the computer. This is convenient if you always need to have an encrypted volume accessible to Windows.
Mount Selected Volume When Its Host Device Gets Connected = Similar to the above option, this mounts the favorite whenever it’s associated device is attached.
Other options include:
Volume PIM and Display PIM = PIM is VeraCrypt’s Personal Iterations Multiplier. If you never set this up, then just leave it blank. This option does not appear in TrueCrypt.
Label of Selected Favorite Volume = Enables you to use a descriptive label in the Favorites list (and the mounted volumes list).
Use Favorite Label as Explorer Drive Label = Displays your label in Explorer.
Mount Selected Volume as Read-Only = prevents write access to the mounted drive, so no changes can be made to files contained within.
Mount Selected Volume as Removable Medium = makes the volume look like a removable drive, such as a flash drive.
Open Explorer Window for Selected Volume When Successfully Mounted = Opens File Explorer to viewing the contents of the mounted favorite.
Do Not Mount Selected Volume When ‘Mount Favorite Volumes’ Hot Key Is Pressed = Enables you to exclude a favorite volume when you mount all at once using the hot key. This option does not exclude volumes with selecting Favorites > Mount Favorite Volumes directly.
Remove = The Remove button (located to the right of Move Up and Move Down) lets you remove a volume from the list of favorites.
6. Repeat for each encrypted volume.
Once you’ve created your favorites, mounting them is a piece of cake. Use any one of these methods:
A. If you chose to automatically mount volumes when you log in or connect a device, you don’t need to do anything except enter your password when prompted. And if you have your password cached in memory, you don’t even need to do that.
In any case, you’ll need to enter the appropriate password, unless you have the password already cached in memory.