This is an update to an earlier post, How to Secure Evernote on a Shared Computer, and shows an easier way to open an encrypted version of Evernote data with a simple desktop shortcut.
A few months ago, we explained how to use Evernote and TrueCrypt to secure Evernote on your computer. This was in response to one of the loudest gripes about Evernote – its inability to natively secure your data, short of locking your user account every time you stepped away from your computer. One of the commenters to that post, Barry, shared with us a batch file (a text file that runs a series of commands) to make this process even easier to use. Once set up, it is a two step process: click on an icon, and enter your password. Doing so automatically opens TrueCrypt, decrypts your data, and then opens Evernote. The batch file even closes TrueCrypt when you exit Evernote. Read on for updated instructions that include Barry’s batch file. Thanks to Barry for sharing this with us.
TrueCrypt is a free open-source disk encryption program, and is available on Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. TrueCrypt can be used a few different ways to encrypt data, such as encrypting an entire drive, encrypting a partition, or creating a virtual encrypted disk. This post will focus on using Evernote along with a virtual encrypted disk created by TrueCrypt.
Step 1 – Create a TrueCrypt container
Follow the instructions in the TrueCrypt Beginner’s Tutorial to download TrueCrypt and create a TrueCrypt Container. This tutorial is excellent, and will walk you through these steps with easy-to-follow screenshots in more detail than I could cover here. Think of a TrueCrypt container to be like a file that sits on your drive, doing nothing, until you tell TrueCrypt to transform it into a "make believe" drive, onto which you can store data just like you would with any other drive. When you’re done with your session, you tell TrueCrypt to "unmount" this make-believe drive, which transforms it back into a file. This file is just like any other file, and can be moved, copied, and deleted. The difference is that it is encrypted, and is worthless without the password that you set when creating it.
There is one important point to remember when creating the container. Specifically, you will need to decide on a file size for your container. To decide on the size, take a look at the size of your Evernote database, and then add in some room for growth. In the Windows 3.1 version of Evernote, you can view your database size by clicking on Tools > Account Properties, and then selecting the Database tab. In the 3.5 version of Evernote, you can find it by clicking on Tools > Options. You may also want to allow extra room if you want to save data other than Evernote data to your container.
Step 2 – Mount your TrueCrypt container
If you followed the Tutorial step-by-step, you will have already mounted the container, but if not, make sure your Container is Mounted using steps 13 through 18 of the tutorial. Take note of the drive letter you use, as you will need this when configuring Evernote in the next step. Also, you should hereafter ALWAYS mount your TrueCrypt container to that drive letter, since that is the location to which Evernote will look for its database.
Step 3 – Configure Evernote
Once your TrueCrypt Container is created, it is time to configure Evernote. If Evernote is already installed on your machine, you will need to move the database onto the virtual drive you created in Step 2 (i.e. where you mounted your container). In the current Windows version of Evernote, you can do this by selecting Tools > Options, and then clicking on the "Change . . ." button in the General tab. After clicking this button, simply navigate to and select the desired location on your virtual drive. If you’re installing Evernote for the first time, you can install Evernote with the default settings, and then relocate your database file as noted above.
Step 4 – Create the Batch File
Now it is time to turn your work into an easy-to-open shortcut, using Barry’s batch file. To do that, first create a batch file (in the next step, we’ll modify it). Do this by opening a text editor, such as Notepad, and enter the following five lines (the formatting of this site breaks up line 4. Line 4 should start with the word "start" and end with "evernote.exe"):
TrueCrypt /v "C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\My Documents\TC" /l p /auto /q
start /DC:\ "Program Files\Evernote\Evernote3.5\" /B /WAIT "C:\Program Files\Evernote\Evernote3.5\evernote.exe"
truecrypt /d p /q
Once you’re done, save the batch file with the name EN.BAT (or a name of your choosing).
Step 5 – Modify the Batch File
You’ll have to edit the batch file to point to your Evernote (EN) installation, & wherever your Truecrypt (TC) volume (i.e. the container you made in Step 1) is located. The batch file above points to an Evernote 3.5 installation, and to a TrueCrypt volume located in the "My Documents" folder. Change these lines to reflect the locations on your system. In my situation, I had to change the third line to point to my TrueCrypt volume, and change both references to Evernote.
Step 6- Create a New Shortcut to Start Evernote
After you’ve tested the batch file to make sure that it works, you may want to tuck it away somewhere safe, and create a shortcut to it. Right-click on the batch file, and select "Create Shortcut." Then right-click on the shortcut, select the shortcut tab, and select the "Change Icon" button at the bottom. Click the browse button, navigate to the Evernote folder, and select the Evernote icon. Or, you can select an icon of your choosing.
That’s it – you’re done! Now, when you use the icon that you created, you will be prompted for a password, after which TrueCrypt will automatically decrypt your data and Evernote will open. When you exit Evernote, TrueCrypt will automatically encrypt your data, and exit. It is a smooth and easy process, and has made me much more comfortable with the security of my Evernote installation.
If you give this a try, let us know in the comments how you make out, or if you have any questions. If you have another method to secure Evernote, please let us know.