USB flash drives are a very practical resource, but at the same time delicate. We usually take them with us anywhere, sometimes we lose them or keep them in places that we later forget. It doesn't have to be a problem, but it can be if your content is sensitive, private, or even confidential. That's why it's so important Protect USB with password and keep your content safe.
It can be a pleasant and even compromising situation for someone to find one of our pendrives unprotected. Nothing will prevent curious eyes from accessing your content: photos, documents ... All whoever found it has to do is connect it to a computer and that's it: you will have all the information.
Luckily, there are many ways to protect a USB and its content. In this post, we are going to review the most practical methods. Surely some of them will be useful for you:
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BitLocker: Microsoft's solution
Windows 10 (and also Windows 11) offers the option of drive encryption using BitLocker, a function integrated into the operating system that serves to solve threats of theft or exposure of data from lost or stolen computers and memory units.
BitLocker offers the option to block access to a USB until the user provides a personal identification number or PIN. How does it work?
- First of all, you have to insert USB or pendrive on the computer.
- Then we click with the right mouse button, selecting the option "Activate Bitlocker".
- Then you have to choose our password. You have to think about it well, because it is the one that we will need to enter each time we want to access the USB. (Optionally, a copy of the password can be saved in our Microsoft account, in a file or in a hotmail.
- To finish, we click on "Encrypt", action after which the content will be protected.
Rohos Mini Drive: create an encrypted partition
While it is true that there are many tools to encrypt and password protect our data, most of them require administrator rights to run on a computer. That is why options such as Rohos Mini Drive, which work whether you have administrator rights on the target computer or not.
The free edition can create a hidden, encrypted and password protected partition of up to 8GB on our USB flash drive. The tool uses automatic encryption with an AES key length of 256 bits. The best thing is that we will not need encryption drivers on the local system: we will be able to access the protected data anywhere.
To create this cipher you have to do the following:
- First we click “Encrypt USB Drive” on the Rohos Mini Drive home screen.
- Next we select the unit.
- Then we specify a new password.
- Finally, we click on “Create disk”, which will generate an encrypted and password-protected disk on our external drive.
To open the protected disk, click on the Rohos Mini.exe icon in the root folder of the USB memory. After entering the password, the Rohos disk will be loaded as a separate unit and we will be able to access it through the File Explorer.
To shut down the Rohos partition, just right-click on the Rohos icon in the Windows taskbar notification area and select the “Disconnect” option.
SecurStick: a safe zone inside the USB
Here's an imaginative tool: SecurStick It does not require installation, it is free and it works without problems with Windows, Linux and Mac. It does not require installation, but to configure it you have to run an EXE file from the USB that you want to encrypt.
The most interesting aspect of SecurStick is that it allows us to create an encrypted section (Safe Zone) inside a USB in a simple way. To use this software, all you have to do is download it, unzip it, and copy it onto your USB stick. Once this is done, you just have to run the application and follow its instructions. Running the EXE file will open a command prompt and a browser window. At this point you have to enter a password and click Create to install Safe zone.
In this way, the next time we launch the SecurStick EXE file, we will be presented with a login window. When you log in, the secure zone is loaded. All the files that we copy to it will be encrypted automatically.
Protect USB with password with WinRAR
That's right, too WinRAR It will help us to protect the data on our USB sticks. This option is especially useful when what we want is the encryption of specific files or folders, instead of shielding an entire USB stick. These are the steps to follow to do it:
- To start, we must right-click on the folder that we want to encrypt, selecting the option «Add to file ».
- In the window that opens next we go to the tab "General", selecting RAR as the archive format.
- Then we click on "Set password".
- Finally, we select the checkbox "Encrypt file names" and validate with "To accept".
By doing this, a .rar file will be created that can only be opened by entering the previously established password.
The method is also valid for other similar programs. For example, we can also achieve the same with 7-Zip: after downloading and installing this program on our computer, we just have to right-click on the file or folder on our USB drive and select the “Add to file” option. In the new window that opens, we choose the file format and add a password. Finally, we will press “Accept” to finish the archiving and encryption process.
Another practical application that will help us protect the content of our USB memories. Do not be fooled by the interface of USB SafeGuardAs old-fashioned as it may sound, the program works very well. Of course, it is only available for Windows.
The free version of the free program supports a maximum capacity of 4 GB. If what we want is to password-protect larger memory units, we will have to opt for the “Premium” version.
Important: if we are going to run this program for the first time, we must check that the pendrive is empty, since in this step all the information it contains will be erased. The wisest thing to do is to make a backup before you start.
After that, the encryption process is very simple: just double click on the file you want to protect. A box will be displayed where you have to enter the password twice (the second is to confirm it). The unlocking process is also very simple: you just have to run the file and enter the password that has been used before.
Download link: USB SafeGuard
VeraCrypt It is open source software that we can use to encrypt files, folders, removable USB drives, and even entire hard drives. Like Rohos Mini Drive, it can create virtual encrypted disk, but it can also encrypt entire partitions or storage devices. The free version is limited to 2GB drives.
It should be noted that Veracrypt is software based on the now defunct TrueCrypt project, incorporating almost all of its features and also adding many improvements in terms of security and performance.
On the official website of VeraCrypt all versions can be downloaded, both for Windows, Linux, macOS, FreeBSD and even directly the source code. Once downloaded, it installs like any other program, with the help of a handy installation wizard. To encrypt a USB, it is recommended to use the "Portable" option, with which we will be able to access the protected information without having to download VeraCrypt on all the computers where we plan to use it.
How is it used? Very easy: when opening the program, we select the option “Create volume” and then the option “Encrypt partition/secondary drive”. Once this is done, a pop-up window will appear requesting our permission to carry out the encryption.
Download link: VeraCrypt
For Linux only: Cryptosetup
Finally, we will mention a very practical tool that we can use in Linux, but that will not work with other operating systems: cryptsetup.
This is a free feature for configuring crypto volumes, available from the standard Linux repository. To protect a USB stick in Linux, you have to install the Gnome disk utility and Cryptsetup from sudo apt-get. Next, start “Disks” from the desktop and find the drive to format it or to encrypt a single partition with a password.