How to Password Protect an External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by n3il89, Jul 30, 2007.

  1. n3il89 macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2006
    I just bought a great 500 GB hard drive that I split into 2 partitions and I reformatted it to HFS+. One partition has journaling enabled and the other doesn't.

    I basically want to password protect only one partition (the one without journaling that I use as a Media Server) and I was wondering how could I do this?

    I don't want to make an encrypted Disk Image using Disk Utility. All I want to do is make sure that every time I turn the hard drive on it will require a password for access.

    P.S. sorry if this is a dupe but I searched first before asking
  2. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    I don't believe there is anything built-in to OS X that will let you do that.
  3. motulist macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    Why don't you want to make an encrypted disk image? It's the perfect solution.
  4. WannaGoMac macrumors 68020


    Feb 11, 2007
    Exactly. A password provides no real security without it being a key to encrypted data. Otherwise someone can just take your external drive and mount it elsewhere to get around a password....
  5. theBB macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    Yes, I agree, an encrypted spareseimage sounds like the way to go.

    In an encrypted dmg, can you change your password if you have to share the password temporarily with somebody else? I guess you'll have to create a brand new one.
  6. n3il89 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2006
    i want the partition itself to be password protected so no matter where i access the data it will always prompt with a password

    also i don't want to use a disk image because then i can't access it from a windows computer (i know that the hd is HFS formatted but there are HFS windows readers to get around that even from a pc)

    i know there isn't anything built into mac os x but are there any 3rd party apps that can do this?
  7. WannaGoMac macrumors 68020


    Feb 11, 2007
    Encrypted volumes for OS X will all do this...
  8. n3il89 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2006
    i looked in Disk Utility but couldn't figure out how to make an encrypted volume...
  9. WannaGoMac macrumors 68020


    Feb 11, 2007
  10. brkirch macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2001
    You can, just open the terminal, type "hdiutil chpass ", drag the disk image onto the terminal window, and hit return.
  11. n3il89 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2006
    yea i know exactly how to make an encrypted disk image

    if u read what i said i'm talking specifically about password protecting the whole volume so whenever it is plugged in, it will ask for a password
  12. WannaGoMac macrumors 68020


    Feb 11, 2007

    That is what an encrypted disk creates. You create an encrypted volume on the complete external drive.
  13. Mac Virgin macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2006
    Hi n3il89,

    What you need to do is make a Sparse Disk Image the same size or slightly smaller than the partition you are trying to protect on your external drive. When creating the image select the option to use encryption and save the image onto your external drive. The next time you mount that drive it won't automatically ask you for the password until you double-click the sparse image within. There are utilities / scripts that will automate that last step but I don't have experience with them.

    I do the same thing to protect my external drives as I travel for a living and just know one day I'll leave a drive overseas somewhere.... :eek:

    Hope that helps..

  14. missPomme macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2008
    TrueCrypt is the answer

    It is free (open source) and is now available for os x 10.5.

    That is what I am using for my External HD
  15. retiredtchr macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2009
    Question about "TrueCrypt is the Answer"

    missPomme: I saw your post and downloaded TrueCrypt. I was wondering if there is anything that needs to be done if you add a new file to the external HD? By the way, thanks for the info.

    "It is free (open source) and is now available for os x 10.5.
    That is what I am using for my External HD"
  16. Detektiv-Pinky macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2006
    Berlin, Germany
    I am not sure what your question is?
    Obviously you need to set up the encrypted partition first. And you need to start Truecrypt and mount the drive (submitting your password here) before you can add files.
    After this you use the drive just like any other volume...
  17. pkiula macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2008
    Hope someone can help me.

    I don't mind TrueCrypt, but I would like to encrypt already existing external drives. Is this possible?

    Secondly, once I have it encrypted, will I always need TrueCrypt on the destination computers? If I share the external drive with a friend who is on Windows XP and may not have TrueCrypt, how will I see the files on his computer? Their FAQ suggests that TC can be installed on a USB stick.

    Basically what I want is simple: when my disk is connected to the Win XP machine, it should show just one encrypted file. When I doubleclick on it, it should automatically start TrueCrypt from the external drive itself (as destination Win XP pc does not have TrueCrypt installed) and ask me for a password. Only then it opens up as a drive on Winxp (or a volume on Mac).

    Thanks for any tips!
  18. SteinMaster macrumors 6502


    Feb 28, 2009
    Not sure if this will work for you, but TrueCrypt is a free encryption tool. You can create an encrypted container that can be opened with a Mac and a PC. I use it on my thumb drives that I use in my work PC and my MacBook Pro. Here is the link:
  19. edtorious macrumors 65816


    Aug 14, 2007
    San Diego, California
    Rather than creating another thread, i'll just add this post to the thread. I just upgraded to OSX Lion and Truecrypt no longer compatible with OSX Lion, does anybody have any idea how I can password protect my external hard drive that already has about 500 GB of data on it? Please advise. Any help or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
  20. BertyBoy macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2009
    I have no idea if this is a viable alternative, but the major USB memory stick manufacturers supply software with their larger sticks to encrypt everything on the stick, with software to unencypt it, for Mac and for Windows.

    Can't remember the name of the software that came on my last 16GB Lexar stick. Google may help you find it for download.
  21. phantasmagoria macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2006
    You can encrypt the external drive using File Vault 2. However, annoyingly, the only way I've found to do this in Lion is via "Erase" in Disk Utility and then re-formatting as an encrypted partition, which would mean losing the 500GB data you have on there already. If you could temporarily copy that data somewhere safe before Erasing the drive then that would be a solution.

    edit: Just found this thread - - about converting an existing drive to a FV2 drive. Could be risky though so you're going to want to make sure you have a backup anyway before trying something like that.
  22. kdbilly macrumors member


    Nov 30, 2006
    Fog City
    I just found this thread and it's exactly the info I'm looking for. I should be able to figure out what to do by reading through all the great info here but I have a basic question to ask which will send me in the right direction.

    Can I encrypt an external HDD with already existing data on it and keep the data in place without reformatting the external HDD? I have a 2TB external HDD that I want to encrypt and don't want to move 2TB worth of data back and forth. Any info is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  23. alexbar macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2012
    Try Lockngo


    Try Lockngo. It works with almost all formats. Locks entire drive (partition). Fast and simple.
  24. congobill macrumors newbie

    Aug 3, 2011
    newwbie encryption

    hi I'm new at this i want to know if there is a way/software(freeware) that I can password protect/encrypt my usb drives they are not usb sticks/flash drive ..1 and 2 TB cap respectively any help welcome thanks!

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