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Creating a new virtual encrypted disk

Summary

Some people are puzzled by the multitude of options available when you are in the process of creating a new protected disk. This manual offers a quick overview of the features of our virtual disk encryption tool.


File Image

This control allows you to indicate the location of the image to be created. It can be a folder on your hard disk, a shared resource on the network, or a mass storage device (flash-disk, digital camera, mp3 player, etc).

The default extension of the file is DPD, however, you can customize it. This trick allows you to hide it from unwanted eyes, because a file with an unknown extension will not attract attention. Be careful when assigning your image an extension native to a different file type. For example, if you set it to JPG, image viewers will attempt to open it, which will result in an error message. That is why someone can accidentally erase the image, thinking that it is just an unreadable file that is wasting available space.


Disk Letter

This control allows you to choose a letter to which the drive will be mapped. The default value is Z: This choice is a matter of personal taste. One can select Z: because it is "far" from C:, D:, while someone else may prefer to assign the first letter that is available.


Disk Size

Here you can indicate the capacity of the new virtual encrypted disk. This value depends on the operations you plan to perform with the drive.

There are several things you have to keep in mind:

  • The size cannot be modified after the disk is created, therefore make sure that you allocate enough space for your future files.  
  • If you feel that the size is insufficient, you can create a new drive and transfer the old files to it.  
  • There is a little overhead data (1708 bytes) used by Private Disk for internal purposes; i.e. if you create a 50Mb image, its size will be slightly greater than 50Mb, this also depends on the file-system that you use.  
  • The space for the image is allocated at the moment it is created. This means that it will occupy 50Mb even if you wrote only a 5Mb file on it. This prevents the fragmentation of the image, hence enhances the performance of the virtual encrypted disk.

Here are some typical scenarios:  

  • Document archive:
    See how large your archive is at the moment. For example, if you have been collecting it for 5 years, and its size is 100 Mb, then we suggest allocating at least 200 Mb. By doing this, you will be able to move your current data to the new location, and you can be sure that your future documents also have a place to stay (provided that your files are updated at the same rate).  
  • A flash-drive:
    In this case it is wise to allocate all the available space. Private Disk can run directly from the drive, without having to be installed. Therefore, you sacrifice a little space for Private Disk program files, but in turn you get 256-bit AES encryption for all your data.  
  • A device that uses flash cards or has internal flash-storage:
    Such as a digital camera or camcorder. These devices are unable to operate with PrivateDisk images, therefore, if you plan to use their storage capacity for confidential data, do not dedicate too much space to the image. For instance, assume that you have a digital camera with a built-in 32Mb flash card. If you allocate all the 32Mb to PD, the camera will be unable to save the new photographs, but you will still be able to use it as a "file-carrier". Obviously, the camera was bought for a different purpose, so you should reserve more space for the photos, and less space for your confidential data. In this case, you could use 2Mb for your private files. The determining argument is that if you need more space for your images, you acquire a separate flash drive for that purpose.  
  • Portable read-only media:
    Imagine that your private data will be moved to a compact disk or a DVD. You will have to create an image with the size less or equal to the capacity of your disk. The typical values are: – 650 Mb (CD) – 700 Mb (CD) – 4.7 Gb (Single-layer DVD) – 8.5 Gb (Dual-layer DVD)

Note: if you want to store other files on your media (for example the distribution of PrivateDisk, or a text-file containing hints to the password, etc), then the size should be slightly less than the total available size.


Removable Disk

By changing this checkbox you tell the system whether it should treat the new drive as a removable disk or not.

Some programs (for example Outlook Express) refuse to store data on removable disks. Disabling this checkbox will solve this problem.

This option may be left unchanged, as it can be modified later.


Read-Only Disk

If this option is enabled, you will not be able to delete files from the disk, nor you will be able to modify its contents. This is useful when you plan to move the image to read-only media (such as a CD).


Hidden File-Image

Enabling this option makes the image-file hidden.

One can still see it if "Show hidden files" is enabled in the Folder Options menu of Windows Explorer. However, this trick is fairly effective when applied against inexperienced users.

It can be used in conjunction with a custom file extension. This way, the image becomes even more obscure.


Connect at System start

Enabling this option will give you a password prompt each time Windows starts. Once a valid password is entered, the disk is mounted, and you can continue your work.

It is not advisable to activate this feature if several persons use the computer; or if you use the protected disk occasionally.


Restore Defaults

Upon pressing this button, all the options will be set to their default values.

Use this if you are not sure about the correctness of your parameters, the default ones are OK for the majority of the tasks.


Quick Create

If this option is enabled, the new image will not be filled with random data. Most users will not need to activate it.

Use it only if time is a critical factor, for instance, when you are in a hurry, or when you need to present a new project to a colleague and the deadline is extremely close.


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