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The disposable hard drive?

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bmrtin

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Post Mon May 27, 2013 2:42 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

brainwhisk wrote:
bmrtin wrote:Windows can not boot from a USB drive


Not true. It's not like it's a *good* operating system, but if the priority is encryption, it'd work.


Prove me wrong with a Microsoft document. Mind you we are talking about USB and not eSATA.
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IxViRuSxI

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Post Mon May 27, 2013 4:23 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

It's been said before, but the best way to do it would be to put ubuntu on any type of removable media via USB and boot from that when you want to get into your on OS. I'd get a regular 32gb flash drive so that you can still store some information on it or you get always get something smaller and use dropbox or something like that for your files.
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brainwhisk

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Post Mon May 27, 2013 9:07 pm

Re: The disposable hard drive?

bmrtin wrote:
brainwhisk wrote:
bmrtin wrote:Windows can not boot from a USB drive


Not true. It's not like it's a *good* operating system, but if the priority is encryption, it'd work.


Prove me wrong with a Microsoft document. Mind you we are talking about USB and not eSATA.

This isn't stock Microsoft, so you won't find a Microsoft document talking about it. Microsoft's *bootloader* will be perfectly happy on a usb, so long as the OS itself is on another drive, but that's pedantics. TinyXP isn't the largest Microsoft-but-not-officially-Microsoft-OS out there, Bart's pre-installed environment (BARTSPE) is stock 32 bit XP with some modifications made to make it bootable on usb. Really, what I'm saying is that you can absolutely get Windows software on a usb and use it, but that you'll have to fiddle with it a bit.
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machinist

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Post Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:03 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

I cant find a good tutorial on this anywhere, is it possible to buy a flash drive with OS already fully installed somewhere?
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echoplot

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Post Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:19 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

Lock_Jockey wrote:I cant find a good tutorial on this anywhere, is it possible to buy a flash drive with OS already fully installed somewhere?


I won't say it isn't possible...but it's not something I've ever seen for sale anywhere, probably due to the lack of a large enough market. Most folks who opt to do this tend to just do it themselves.
You might give this tutorial a shot though. http://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/win7onusb

Optionally, I would also recommend checking out TrueCrypt for encrypting the installation on the USB drive.

I think most people who make a bootable USB drive typically do so with a flavor of Linux rather than Windows, however I can understand the desire to use Microsoft if you want to use their specific applications. Though, there are open source programs that are able to work with and save in Microsoft formats.

Something else you might consider would be creating a virtual machine. You can create the virtual disk on the USB stick like a regular file, and simply mount it to your existing operating system to run with your hypervisor of choice (VMware Player [free but limited usage], VMware Workstation, Citrix, Zen, KVM or Microsoft Hyper-V [which I believe is now included as part of WIndows 7])
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machinist

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Post Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:32 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

echoplot wrote:
Lock_Jockey wrote:I cant find a good tutorial on this anywhere, is it possible to buy a flash drive with OS already fully installed somewhere?


I won't say it isn't possible...but it's not something I've ever seen for sale anywhere, probably due to the lack of a large enough market. Most folks who opt to do this tend to just do it themselves.
You might give this tutorial a shot though. http://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/win7onusb

Optionally, I would also recommend checking out TrueCrypt for encrypting the installation on the USB drive.

I think most people who make a bootable USB drive typically do so with a flavor of Linux rather than Windows, however I can understand the desire to use Microsoft if you want to use their specific applications. Though, there are open source programs that are able to work with and save in Microsoft formats.

Something else you might consider would be creating a virtual machine. You can create the virtual disk on the USB stick like a regular file, and simply mount it to your existing operating system to run with your hypervisor of choice (VMware Player [free but limited usage], VMware Workstation, Citrix, Zen, KVM or Microsoft Hyper-V [which I believe is now included as part of WIndows 7])


tried that one, was having no success. I'd use an encryption device except I need temp files and browsing history under lock and key in addition.

EDIT: I'm thinking about just getting an external HD and just unplugging my current HD's and tricking the PC into a freash install via windows CD/USB then just changing boot order when I need to go secure mode. Your thoughts?
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echoplot

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Post Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:57 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

Lock_Jockey wrote:
echoplot wrote:
Lock_Jockey wrote:I cant find a good tutorial on this anywhere, is it possible to buy a flash drive with OS already fully installed somewhere?


I won't say it isn't possible...but it's not something I've ever seen for sale anywhere, probably due to the lack of a large enough market. Most folks who opt to do this tend to just do it themselves.
You might give this tutorial a shot though. http://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/win7onusb

Optionally, I would also recommend checking out TrueCrypt for encrypting the installation on the USB drive.

I think most people who make a bootable USB drive typically do so with a flavor of Linux rather than Windows, however I can understand the desire to use Microsoft if you want to use their specific applications. Though, there are open source programs that are able to work with and save in Microsoft formats.

Something else you might consider would be creating a virtual machine. You can create the virtual disk on the USB stick like a regular file, and simply mount it to your existing operating system to run with your hypervisor of choice (VMware Player [free but limited usage], VMware Workstation, Citrix, Zen, KVM or Microsoft Hyper-V [which I believe is now included as part of WIndows 7])


tried that one, was having no success. I'd use an encryption device except I need temp files and browsing history under lock and key in addition.

EDIT: I'm thinking about just getting an external HD and just unplugging my current HD's and tricking the PC into a freash install via windows CD/USB then just changing boot order when I need to go secure mode. Your thoughts?


Well, TrueCrypt is able to encrypt the entire operating system, which would include your temp dir. It can even do a hidden operating system for so-called plausible deniability reasons.

If you go the virtual machine route, all of the temp files would be inside of the virtual hard drive, which would be on your USB stick. When the virtual machine is running, you would just do your browsing from inside of it instead of the hosting system.
When I was running more sensitive stuff on locally hosted virtual machines, I just turned a 2TB external drive into an encrypted file container and stored the virtual machine files inside of that. After shutting down the vm's and unmounting the drive, it was secured.

If you want to go the external disk drive route, there's really no need to unplug your current hard disk when you can just specify which drive you want to install and boot from.

Ever check out something like BartPE? You can create a livecd or liveusb installation to boot from, and then just save off your work to an external drive or usb.
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Neilau

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Post Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:16 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

While all the above advice would work, it seems to be needlessly complex.

Encryption (Truecript included) will slow everything down, Booting to Linux from a thumb drive assumes a certain level of computer knowledge both in setting up and using.

Virtual machines --- don't even go there.

You mentioned that you wanted to lock the drive in a safe when not using.

What I would recommend is to get an external USB connected hard drive (as suggested 500 Gb is plenty).

You don't have to load an operating system onto it. You can install the Book Keeping software onto the external drive if you like and just run it from there when it is plugged into the PC or you could just use the external drive to store your data files.

This way you can unplug it and put it into the safe when finished.

As this is the only copy of the data that you have I would always back it up to a different storage system (never have too many backups).

If you want to use an old drive you can get connectors (from eBay and other places - $20-$30) that will connect old drives (including small laptop drives) to a USB port.

It seems that you just want to keep your data safe so I would Apply the KISS principal here.

Summary - Buy a new external drive and keep your data on that.

Buy a connector for an older drive and keep your data on that.

ALWAYS have an extra backup of your data. Hard drives of all makes can and do fail).

Just my two cents.

Cheers.
Clark's Law (Arthur C)

For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.
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dmasters

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Post Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:26 pm

Re: The disposable hard drive?

I was reading/skimming the whole thread and was suprised no one mentioned Raspberry Pi or a Beagle Bone. Monitor, keyboard, mouse, network cable... done.
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Josephus

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Post Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:55 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

I am a reasonably mobile techie. Network stuff mostly but have been dealing with linux often lately. I am even making yet another bootable persistent drive right now, so it would be downright rude for me not to help out. I'm going to mostly stick to the 'disposable system on removable media' idea as the other obvious stuff has already been gone over reasonably well.

Firstly, it may be possible to boot windows from a usb stick, though I have not tried it. It would require flipping the RMB (removable Media Bit). Doing that will make the system treat usb drives like internal ones. This tool is what I have used to do this. Be warned, it is entirely not supported, wont work on all drives, and may bork your drive. Another quirky method that I have gotten to work is using windows 7 disk management to repartition a usb stick. Something windows does not like at all and again is not supported, yet after a couple volumes are made, then wiped and made whole again, the RMB is zeroed for whatever reason.

I have been relatively vague about all of that as it is a silly process and prone to screwing stuff up.

To get a nice, portable, bootable linux system up and running simply follow these instructions. The only things you really need to know in particular about this method is that it is a live build with potential for persistence. Basically if you set the persistence file size to zero, you will get a fresh system every time you boot. All your activities, installations, and whatever else is gone forever just like a livecd. Should you want to keep settings, files, programs, and so on then you need to set the persistence file to some size up to 4gb. Now linux is really small. A reasonable desktop can be had for just a few gigs. Should you need more space, you can always install to a bigger drive and mount to it, essentially negating that 4gb limit, but only for data. Additionally you could simply install in full directly onto any removable drive and call it good, as many people have already pointed out.

I use lots of stuff depending on the specific purpose. I do absolutely love virtual machines. They are great for so much and even a half assed setup can mean the end of catastrophic data loss or downtime. My favorite is Oracle's VirtualBox. I also like unetbootin, but usually roll multiboot with yumi.

For a really secure setup I wold definitely use Truecrypt within a 4096 fde live system with all my important emails ran through this, stored on unnumbered, catnip laced ibm 5081s in a room that my cat has almost but not quite entirely figured out how to get in to.
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LockMan789

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Post Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: The disposable hard drive?

Using difficult methods, I was able to install WinXP to a USB Thumb drive. However, it takes forever to boot up and the biggest problem of all, is that it can only boot up 1 time and then it's useless. I was trying to be able to use Windows on a first generation netbook which doesn't have the capacity for anything (even can't update the OS/apps pre-installed though it's request to update them, because there is no free space).

Of course if single boots is all you care about, you can get Ubuntu Live CD and use that without even having a hard drive and probably could save your actual files to a thumb drive or external hard drive of USB or whatever you want. This way, you can have a PC that doesn't even have a hard drive in it. The downside of course, is that Windows isn't an option. I've tried Bootable "Windows" from CD like BartPE (pre-installation environment) and it's so limited that I can't install even really old simple apps in it (like win 95 apps).
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Medecopen

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Post Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:05 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

xeo wrote:http://www.ironkey.com


I'm a big fan of ironkey also I own 2 of them, browse using the fire fox and all data is encrypted and goes threw a proxy..
Plugs right into the USB like any other USB flash drive but has a nice metal case..
Enter the wrong pass code 10x and it self destructs so you can put it in a safe if you like but it's prolly just fine if you forget to do that...also it's protected from malware that tracks keystrokes if you log in with the virtual keypad...
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Medecopen

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Post Sat Nov 30, 2013 9:49 am

Re: The disposable hard drive?

n0sePicker wrote:
Lock_Jockey wrote:I cant find a good tutorial on this anywhere, is it possible to buy a flash drive with OS already fully installed somewhere?


everyone here is uber smart, but heres my 2 cents,
the Raspberry Pi, is one of the worlds smallest computers, about the size of an old walkman radio for $35. and it boots Debian Linux, from a Simcard, you can buy up to 32 gig SimCards these days.

if your looking to encrypt the shit, then i dont know, but i would say whatever your doing on your puter, that needs encryption, and stored in a safe location, well, you should probly reconsider what your doing and maybe 'not do it' lol.
you can be a multi-millionaire and not need that level of security. but if your breaking the law, then your just going to have to jump through some hoops to 'feel' secure. in the end, your not safe. period.

n0sepicker


There are many reasons one would want to encrypt and store data in a safe place without breaking the law... Just like the locks on all our doors to our homes... Should we rethink what we do in our homes because we choose to put locks on the doors? I don't think so, I'm a firm believer in our fourth amendement rights...encryption are the locks in cyber space... And just like we like to pick locks here there is just as much of a hobby of folks trying to hack into ur accounts install malware on ur devices and spy on you with the cameras and mics right in front of you.... If you think that you are doing nothing wrong so have nothing to hide does that mean you are willing to give up one of the most important rights we have? It's really dwindling away fast....
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HerrMannelig

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Post Sat Nov 30, 2013 3:11 pm

Re: The disposable hard drive?

Lock_Jockey wrote:Is it possible to get an old external HD and put an OS on it so I can use software/create temp files/store files?

Basically I want to make a "second PC" that I can unplug and lockup in a safe at night. Something I can use bookkeeping software/ photo editing software and have NONE of the files on my pc I'm leaving unattended? Would a large SD card work if I set the pc to boot from it?


I see a lot of suggestions here.

And one thing I would suggest for a situation like this is maybe a small computer would work. Instead of fiddling with PC parts, why not just get a small PC which you can lock up?

Dell and HP make some small PCs which you can easily get refurbished for very cheap.

That is not what I would do (unplugging a PC is something I try to avoid, because it is a hassle), but if you do not have any experience with the sort of solutions offered here, it may be the easiest and simplest solution.

I am usually against giving advise based on my own abilities and comfort in dealing with technical issues (I'd load an operating system with encryption on a virtual machine, and put the virtual harddisk on a removable drive, this would enable easy backups and encryption of those backups), because if something happens, one is stuck without being ready to fix it.
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