Secure backup and storage using a disk image and an iPod
In case you lose your iPod (or any other external drive for that matter) or it gets stolen your data is in danger. I'm one of those people that constantly carries data on their iPod between two locations and I want to keep it safe. What follows is a brief tutorial aimed at those that want their data protected without investing in commercial software. In case you didn't know, you can increase your privacy pretty easily with features embedded directly into Mac OS X.
What I prefer to use for this task is the Disk Utility, you'll find it in - Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. The easiest way to follow this tutorial is to do the work at the same time so I suggest you open it and just follow my instructions.
Once you start the Disk Utility the following window opens up:
What we are interested here is creating a new image and in order to do that you'll have to use the - you guessed it - New Image option located in the upper left corner. Click on it once and you'll be prompted to give the image a name, choose the format and the encryption:
As the format goes, you can choose to create an image by using a preset between 2.5 MB and 4.7 GB (and 8 GB on Mac OS X 10.4) or you can use a custom size that fits your requirements.
Since the purpose of this article is to teach you how to make a secure backup of your files that you can modify on other Macs, I'm going to make a read/write image encrypted with 128-bit AES. Some will argue that this is not enough, and they're right. I wouldn't trust this for enterprise secrets but for information that most of us carry around this will be just fine. The purpose is not to give a stranger the easy way of browsing your files and not deter the NSA, there's commercial software that can give you enterprise-level security but that's beyond the scope of this article.
Once the image is created you'll be promted to enter a password, use something you can remember since without the password there's no way to access the image in the future:
Once the password has been entered the image is mounted and ready for use on your desktop and will look something like this:
After you've filled the image with the data you want to carry around just eject it as you would any other image and connect your iPod to your Mac. Now for the easy part - copy the image to your iPod and you're done!
What I like about this approach is that it's fast, easy and it already comes with your Mac. This means that you can securely carry your data around and modify it on another Mac with no additional software.