USB flash drives are the most common portable storage solutions. These tiny flash drives are convenient, cheap, and easy to transport files. Due to that, everyone likes to use one to store important files, keeping backups, or transfer files from one place to another. So, In this article, we will discuss how to password protect a flash drive on Windows 10 and macOS.
How to password protect a flash drive
While storing important files in a flash drive, due to how tiny these flash drives can be, there are chances of you misplacing it somewhere or it getting stolen from you. There is an extreme risk of exposing your important data to the wrong hands in either of these cases. So to prevent this from happening, you must encrypt your important files or keep a password to protect the whole USB flash drive. Let’s learn how to password protect a flash drive step by step in Windows 10 and macOS.
How to password protect a flash drive on Windows 10?
To learn how to password protect a flash drive and encrypt it on Windows, we will be using Bitlocker. Bitlocker is an inbuilt encryption feature provided by windows for free, but it is only available on Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10. For windows 10 home users, we will be using another free 3rd party software that works exactly like BitLocker.
How to password protect a flash drive using BitLocker?
- Step 1: First, plug your USB flash drive into your PC. Find the flash drive on the computer, right-click on it and click Turn on BitLocker.
- Step 2: On the next window, select Use a password to unlock the drive option and type your password in the two boxes below. Now click Next.
- Step 3: On the next window, you’ll have three options to backup your recovery key/password in case you ever forget that. Select whichever you’re comfortable with and click Next.
- Step 3: Here on this screen, you’ll get two options to encrypt your flash drive. Either you can Encrypt used disk space only or Encrypt the entire drive. Select accordingly and click Next.
- Step 4: Now, on the next page, click on Start encrypting to start the process. Depending on which option you’ve chosen in the last step, this will take some time. After completion, click on close.
Now your flash drive is encrypted. From now on, whenever you insert it on any computer, you’ve to enter the BitLocker password to open it. This way, your data is completely protected if you ever happen to lose your flash drive. Whoever finds it can’t access your files without the password. But in case you ever need to decrypt the flash drive, say you need to lend it to a friend, here is the way how you can easily decrypt it and remove the password-
How to decrypt and remove the password of a flash drive?
- Insert the flash drive and open it by entering the BitLocker password.
- Right-click on the flash drive and select Manage BitLocker.
- On the new window, click on the Turn off BitLocker.
- Click Turn off Bitlocker again.
It will take some time to decrypt all the files. After completion, you no longer require a password to access the drive.
The above-mentioned way of how to password protect a flash drive is only applicable if you use an edition of Windows that supports BitLocker. But, if you are using some other windows edition, say windows 10 home, which doesn’t have native BitLocker support, you have to use a 3rd party software. There are many 3rd party apps to password protect your flash drive, but most of them are trial versions for limited days, or you’ve to purchase their app. But in this article, we will use a completely free software called VeraCrypt.
How to password protect a flash drive for FREE using VeraCrypt?
The best thing about the VeraCrypt app is that it’s free, open-source, and supports cross-platform, which means you can use it on major operating systems like Windows, MacOSX, or Linux. Follow the following steps to use VeraCrypt to encrypt your flash drive. We are using a Windows 10 PC to demonstrate the steps below, but the process is more or less identical for macOS and Linux OS.
- Step 1:Download and install VeraCrypt on your windows from their official site – https://www.veracrypt.fr/en/Downloads.html
- Step 2: Insert your flash drive into your Windows PC and open VeraCrypt. Here on the VeraCrypt window, click Create Volume.
- Step 3: Now, you’ll get a VeraCrypt volume creation wizard with three options. Since we will encrypt and password protect the entire flash drive, select the second option, which reads Encrypt a non-system partition drive. Now click Next.
- Step 4: On the next screen, select Standard VeraCrypt volume and click Next.
- Step 5: You need to select the USB flash drive you want to protect with a password by clicking the Select Device button. After selecting, click Next.
- Step 6:On the next screen, select Create encrypted volume and format it option and click Next.
- Step 7: VeraCrypt will now ask you to select the Encryption option. There are several options to choose from, but if you are not familiar with any of them, leave them to their default values and click Next.
- Step 8: Click Next again, and now VeraCrypt will ask you to create a strong password. VeraCrypt recommends a 20 digit or longer password, but you can put whatever you want and click on Next.
- Step 9: Now, choose if you plan to store files larger than 4 GB or not and click Next. On the next screen, you’ll have to select the file system you want to use.
NOTE: While selecting a file system, remember that the FAT file system is universal and can be used on other Operating Systems. However, you’ll be limited to store files up to 4 GB only.
- Step 10: Now, staying on the same screen, you need to create random data by moving your mouse around the screen. VeraCrypt uses this random data to create stronger encryption. After the progress bar turns completely green, you can stop moving around your mouse and click on the Format button to continue. You can also select the quick format option.
NOTE:Make sure to back up any important files on your flash drive before proceeding as you need to format the flash drive while using this option.
- Step 11: Now, VeraCrypt will format the USB flash drive and start creating an encrypted drive. Click on Exit once it’s done.
Once you complete encrypting the flash drive using VeraCrypt, you can’t access the drive directly. If you try to open it directly from the file explorer of your PC, you’ll only get a prompt window asking you to format the drive or cancel. You’ll have to use VeraCrypt again if you want to access the encrypted flash drive. Here are the step by step instruction to do exactly that-
- Firstly open the VeraCrypt app and click on the Select Device button to select your encrypted flash drive.
- Now select another drive letter from the VeraCrypt window to assign your flash drive and click on Mount.
- Enter the password you’ve used earlier and click OK to decrypt the drive.
- After the decryption process, you can see your USB flash drive mounted using the drive you’ve letter you’ve chosen.
- Now you can Add/Remove or access files on your flash drive from here.
- When you are done using the flash drive, Dismount it using the VeraCrypt app.
This is one of the most convenient and easy ways of how to password protect a flash drive.
How to password protect a flash drive on macOS?
We’ve already discussed a cross-platform universal way of how to password protect a flash drive, but it requires a 3rd party software. But if you are a Mac user, you don’t need to use any 3rd party app. Mac OS X can easily encrypt or decrypt a flash drive with just a few clicks.
Before we proceed, remember that macOS can only encrypt volumes that are Mac-formatted with the filesystem Mac OS Extended, otherwise known as HFS+. It’s a Mac-only filesystem which means you won’t be able to use the flash drive on any other system not running macOS. To do this, we are going to use a built-in macOS application called Disk Utility.
How to password protect a flash drive using Disk Utility?
- The first thing you need to do is backup any important files stored on the flash drive. Now that you’ve done that, go up to your spotlight, type in Disk Utility and open it.
- Now Insert the flash drive you want to encrypt. It will show up in the Disk Utility window. Select on APPLE SD Card Reader Media and go to Erase tab.
- On this window, write a Name for your flash drive, select the Scheme as GUID Partition Map and select the Format as Mac OS Extended( Journaled, Encrypted).
- Now click on Erase button and type in your password. Now click Erase again to begin the encryption process.
- That’s it. If you eject the flash drive and insert it again, it will ask you to enter the password. This means your USB flash drive is successfully encrypted and protected with a password.
Must Read – Best Free VPN for iOS to download right now
Now that you know how to password protect a flash drive, you can use one without worrying about your files getting misused by the wrong hands. Let us know which method you’ve used mentioned in our “How to password protect a flash drive windows 10 or Mac” guide in the comment section below. And while you are here, click on the link below to read our other articles.