In Windows 10, there are a few different ways to encrypt a USB drive. One of these, and the preferred method by most, is the BitLocker utility, which will encrypt the drive, and log in to Windows to access the drive. There are, however, some problems with using this method: if you lose your Windows password, you lose the BitLocker password, as well as the ability to get the encrypted drive back, and BitLocker requires a USB drive with a minimum size of 16GB to work. If you have a smaller drive, you can no longer use the BitLocker utility.
Learn how to password protect a USB drive in Windows With the right tools and the right knowledge, anyone can create a password protected USB drive. Windows comes with some built-in features to help you protect your data, but they aren’t really a proper password…they are essentially one-time use passwords. Plus, you can’t remove and re-use…
USB flash drives are small data storage devices that can store hundreds of gigabytes of data in the form of files and folders. People prefer USB drives because of their portability, reliability and the ability to store as much data as they want.
People who work on multiple computers all day should plug in and use a USB drive to access all their programs and data.
However, USB flash drives do not have a large number of security holes. For example, anyone can access data stored on a USB stick. Just plug the drive into a computer or laptop and it can do whatever it wants.
If someone stole your USB drive and used the data illegally, you may be a victim of identity theft. Before storing valuable information on a USB flash drive, learn how to do it safely.
To maintain the confidentiality and security of your USB key, I have found several solutions to encrypt your key so that no one can access your data without your permission. You can buy a secure USB drive, encrypt your drive or individual files.
In this article, we will look at the different methods you can use to secure a USB flash drive in Windows.
Password-protect the drive with BitLocker
Windows 10 users have access to BitLocker’s built-in encryption tool. It encrypts the data carrier and restricts access to it with a secure password. Even if you add new data later, it will be protected automatically.
Before we explain how to back up your drive with BitLocker, you need to keep a few things in mind.
- BitLocker encryption is only available for Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. If you have a lower version of Windows, you cannot use the BitLocker encryption feature.
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips should be installed on your computer because they provide advanced security measures. If the TPM chip is not installed, you can also use BitLocker, but this requires an additional authentication procedure.
- Download the latest BIOS firmware updates from your computer manufacturer’s official website.
- You need to create two hard drive partitions. If you don’t have one, BitLocker will create it automatically. If you create partitions manually, they should be in NTFS format, not FAT32.
- Your computer should remain on until the process is complete.
We will now look at the steps you can take to backup your USB drive with BitLocker in just a few seconds.
Step one: Insert the USB flash drive into the computer and start this PC in Windows Explorer. Then right-click on the drive and click Enable BitLocker.
Step two: Select the Use password to unlock device check box and enter the password twice. Click on the Next button.
Step three: The next screen prompts you to register the recovery key. If you forget the password, you can use the recovery key to open the password-protected USB flash drive.
Step four: Now select Encrypt whole disk to encrypt the whole disk and not just a single file. In the next window, under Select encryption mode, select Compatible mode. The encryption process will begin and wait for a while until it has encrypted your entire drive.
Once the process is complete, you can connect the drive to a computer, which will then ask you for a password to unlock the drive. If you accidentally forget your password, you can use the recovery key to reset the password.
Protect media with password with VeraCrypt
If you don’t trust Microsoft, you can use VeraCrypt to password protect your USB drive. It is a free and open source software developed by the company Idrix, based in Paris.
VeraCrypt is used for on-the-fly encryption with different algorithms like AES 256 bits, Serpent and many others. As of March 2020, VeraCrypt will be released in version 1.24-Update6 for Windows.
To secure a USB flash drive with VeraCrypt, the following steps can be performed.
Step one: Download VeraCrypt for free. After downloading and installing the application, open it on your desktop.
Step two: Click on the Create Volume button.
Step three: From the available options, select Encrypt non-system partition/disk to protect primarily the USB or flash drive, and then click Next.
Step four: Select VeraCrypt Standard Volume for the Volume Type parameter.
Step 5: After clicking Next, select Select Device and choose your USB Drive from the list. Then click OK and Next.
Step six: You now need to choose the creation mode. To avoid losing data (that is already on the disk), select the option to encrypt partition locally. If the disk is empty, choose another option, which is to create and format an encrypted volume.
Seventh step: After clicking Next, select the appropriate encryption and hash algorithm. Select the AES encryption algorithm and the SHA-512 hash algorithm. Click on the Next button.
Step 8: VeraCrypt automatically detects the size of your disk, but you still have to confirm it once. Once you have confirmed the capacity of your USB storage device, click Next.
Step 9: Enter the password you want to use to unlock the USB flash drive.
Step 10: Now you must indicate whether you want to store large files on the VeraCrypt volume or not. If you want to save files larger than 4 GB, select Yes, otherwise no. Click on the Next button.
Message: Based on your choice, Veracrypt selects the file system for the Veracrypt volume.
Step 11: Select Volume format. Move the mouse around the VeraCrypt application window as much as possible. The longer the journey, the higher the cryptographic strength of the keys.
And, to create the volume, click Format.
Step 12: This process takes a few minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the disk and the amount of data it contains.
Now pair the drive in VeraCrypt with the password and your USB drive is encrypted.
Password protection of individual files
If you do not want to password protect the entire drive, but only certain folders or files. As we mentioned earlier, Windows 10 users can use the built-in BitLocker software. But what about those who don’t have Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise?
There are other methods you can use to secure a single file or folder on a disk.
For example, if you use MS Office, you can protect your data with an integrated solution. To do this, go to the File > Information menu. In the Protect document area, select Encrypt password. Enter and confirm the password, then press OK.
From now on, you will have to enter your password every time you try to open a file or document.
If you do not have built-in encryption, you will need to install WinZIP or other compression software. WinZip is normally used to compress files, but it also asks the user to add a password to encrypt the files.
To encrypt data with WinZIP, right-click the file you want to protect and select Add to Archive or Send to Compressed Folder. Now choose Password or Password Protection, enter the password and confirm it.
Therefore, the password must be entered each time you try to open a file.
The WinZIP encryption method takes time, and compressing large files takes several hours. In addition, the password can (not always) be cracked with WinZIP’s password recovery tools.
You can even install third-party software that encrypts data to protect your files and folders. However, you should make sure that you download these third-party applications from reliable sources or companies.
Whether you use several computers during the day or not, it is always best to encrypt and password protect sensitive and personal files and folders. Once your data is stolen, there is nothing you can do about it and you become a victim of identity theft.
If you have any questions or want to know other ways to password protect your USB flash drive, feel free to let us know in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you password protect a USB flash drive?
Yes, you can password protect a USB flash drive.
How do I password protect a USB drive in Windows 10 home?
You can password protect a USB drive in Windows 10 home by following these steps:
How do I password protect a USB drive in Windows 7?
To password protect a USB drive in Windows 7, follow these steps: 1. Right-click on the USB drive icon in the left pane of Computer. 2. Click “Manage” 3. Click “Change Drive Letter and Paths” 4. Click “Add” 5. Select “A:” and click “OK” 6. 7. Click “Properties” 8. Click “Security” 9. Click “Change” 10. Click “Advanced” 11. Click “Change Permissions for” 12. Click “Owner” 13. Click “Full Control” 14. Click “Apply” 15. 16. Click “Properties” 17. Click “Security” 18. Click “Change” 19. Click “Advanced” 20. Click “Change Permissions for” 21. Click “Administrators” 22. Click “Full Control” 23. Click “Apply” 24. Click “OK” To password protect a USB drive in Windows 8, follow these steps: 1. Right-click
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