Creating a Rescue Disk
Before we can actually begin the encryption process, there’s one vey important safety step we must take. We need to create a Rescue Disk. This Rescue Disk will serve the following purposes:
- If the TrueCrypt Boot Loader screen does not appear after you start your computer (or if Windows does not boot), the TrueCrypt Boot Loader may be damaged. The TrueCrypt Rescue Disk allows you restore it and thus to regain access to your encrypted system and data (however, note that you will still have to enter the correct password then).
- If you repeatedly enter the correct password but TrueCrypt says that the password is incorrect, it is possible that the master key or other critical data are damaged. The TrueCrypt Rescue Disk allows you to restore them and thus to regain access to your encrypted system and data (however, note that you will still have to enter the correct password then).
- If the TrueCrypt Boot Loader is damaged or infected with malware, you can avoid running it by booting directly from the TrueCrypt Rescue Disk. Insert your Rescue Disk into your CD/DVD drive and then enter your password in the Rescue Disk screen.
- If Windows is damaged and cannot start, the TrueCrypt Rescue Disk allows you to permanently decrypt the partition/drive before Windows starts.
- Your TrueCrypt Rescue Disk contains a backup of the original content of the first drive track (made before the TrueCrypt Boot Loader was written to it) and allows you to restore it if necessary. The first track of a boot drive typically contains a system loader or boot manager.
First, an ISO will be created (see Figure 10).
Figure 10 Creating an ISO.
Then you will need to actually burn the ISO to a disk: Windows now provides some disk-burning capability, but it doesn’t natively handle ISO files. Fortunately, TrueCrypt has thought of that, and kindly provides pointers to some recording software (see Figure 11).
Figure 11 Rescue Disk recording.
So, you can burn the ISO to disk (see Figure 12).
Figure 12 Burning the ISO to disk.
You must create the Rescue Disk, because TrueCrypt will check for the CD (a nice security check), as shown in Figure 13.
Figure 13 Creating the Rescue Disk.
Now you’re almost ready to begin the encryption process, but first you’re given an opportunity to wipe the system. This is not required (you can select None), but you can choose to do this if you’re worried about avoiding any problems (I’ve never had problems choosing None). See Figure 14.
Figure 14 Wipe Mode.
Now you’re once step closer. That’s right—still not quite ready. Before we actually begin encrypting the system, TrueCrypt performs a pretest to make sure everything will work on your system (see Figure 15).
Figure 15 Performing a pretest.
Once you select Test, you’ll receive some instructions on what to do if you encounter problems. Please print these so that you have them handy for reference!
Then restart your computer. Upon rebooting, the pretest will be performed (nothing is really visible to the user), as shown in Figure 16. Finally, you’re ready to begin encrypting your system drive!
Figure 16 The pretest is complete.
Once you select Encrypt, you see some additional notes on how to use the Rescue Disk (just in case there are unforeseen problems). I really appreciate TrueCrypt’s attention to detail in this area, trying to ensure that you have all the information you need in case of problems. Please print out the notes that appear on your screen.