Making a Secure Digital Vault

About: An amateur maker who tends to have everything go wrong

I thought I would share the basics of creating a secure digital vault using the veracrypt software. I’ve used it for several years to create digital vaults for myself and my family. it’s a powerful encryption software, and very versatile, but not entirely straightforward.

Properly set up, the vault will protect your data from almost anything.

And if you feel this is a worthy instructible, I would appreciate a vote in the safety and security contest.

Step 1: Choose a Flash Drive

Choose a flash drive. (I really like the low profile ones).

it’s best to start with a freshly formatted drive, though a half-full drive still works, or an older model.

The low profile ones are less likely to be damaged while in the computer (I've had drives snapped off, or bent while in the computer, and heard of worse, like snapping off the connector from the motherboard)

Step 2: Download Veracrypt

Download Veracrypt portable version (which is free, and open source)

https://www.veracrypt.fr/en/Downloads.html

Step 3: Move the Download to the Flash Drive

copy the EXE to your flash drive (I've named my flash drive examplevault)

Step 4: Select Language

select the language
(I'm using English, since that’s the language this instructible is written in)

Step 5: Licence

click past the usual license stuff (URRRG!)

Step 6: Choose the Install Directory

make sure the install directory is set to the letter of your flash drive, and extract the software

Step 7: Wait for It to Extract

wait for it to extract. yeah, just wait. it shouldn't take long

Step 8: It Extracted!

all files have extracted, and the software is on our flash drive. Now time to begin the hard part, setting up the secure container

Step 9: Start the Software

it may auto-popup the new folder, or you may have to open it. Ether way, you’ll see a bunch of confusing stuff, and several exicutable (.exe) files.

Click on veracrypt.exe

allow the media to run (you really thought something cool could be done without admin permissions?) and you reach the veracrypt screen

Step 10: Veracrypt at Last.

you have reached the veracrypt screen at last.

now click on create volume

Step 11: Begin Creating the Vault

check create an encrypted file container

Step 12: Select Volume Type

Select standard Veracrypt volume (hidden volumes are cool, but WAY more than you will ever need).

Step 13: Select Volume Location

for volume location, tell it the root of the flash drive (if you want to be extra sneaky, add some folders to the flash drive and name it something innocent-sounding inside one of those) for now, we’ll name it vault

Step 14: Choose Encryption and Hash

pick an encryption algorithm...or three. Yes, Veracrypt lets you do that :)

don’t use the default AES method. it’s secure enough (it’s used for top secret material) but this is a digital VAULT.

pick a hash algorithm (RIPEMD-160 or Whirlpool are the best. The others carry the stain of NSA development…)

Step 15: Choose Container Size

Pick the size of your file container (1GB should be enough for text files, but pick two or three if you’re saving PDFs.) don’t try and make anything bigger than the (helpfully listed) available space. If you do it will end in nightmares.

Click next!

Step 16: And Time for a Password

Next comes picking a password. I won’t say much on this, as passwords are tricky, personal subjects. I recommend some sort of memorable phrase pulled from a book you will keep, but don’t much like. Also, there are many good automatic password generators.

Please don’t use the same password you use ANYWHERE else! For now I will just use “Pick a Good Password Every1!” as a reminder to us all.

You need capital, lowercase letters and numbers before the software will even let you try to make a container (the software is wise) also, it accepts up to 64 character passwords, and I recommend using all of that.

Step 17: Random Generation

Now it will ask you to move the mouse randomly around the screen. do so until the bar fills up. You can start when the bar goes green, but why have lesser security?

Step 18: Format and Wait

Now click format, and wait. This will take a bit, be patient. Even after it’s done formatting the new volume, as our vault is called, it will take a minute

Step 19: Congratulations

Congratulations, you can now exit the creation wizard.

Step 20: Mount the Vault Volume

Now the volume is created, but there’s nothing in there.

From veravrypt, select a drive letter you aren't using. Something like “w:”, then select the file we just created by clicking the select file button, then click open

now click on the big "Mount" button

Step 21: Enter Your Password

Well, enter your password

Step 22: Wait

Wait, while the vault opens….

Step 23: Go to the Vault

Now go into the address bar and type in “w:” or your chosen drive letter.

(or just click on it in the sidebar)

here’s our nice shiny new vault!

Step 24: Fill the Vault

Now fill it up with things worthy of protecting…. :)

You can click and drag, or simply copy/paste to the vault.

Step 25: Close the Vault

and now it’s time to close the vault. Close the window, then go to the veracrypt window, and click on Dismount All

Step 26: Finished at Last

With the vault closed, click on Exit.

And congratulations, your documents are now safe inside a powerfully encrypted vault with a strong password. Enjoy.

And remember that password. This isn’t a website. A forgotten password means those documents are gone forever. So REMEMBER THE PASSWORD!

disclaimer: (it's a sad world that needs these) anything you do with these instructions and software is your fault, not mine, I'm not to blame if you loose your password, or encrypt things you shouldn't have.

Anyone have tricks, comments, security tips I missed, maybe even mistakes you spotted? Let me know down in the comments, and thanks for reading!

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