Here, we talk about how to encrypt a flash drive, and how you can benefit from using an encrypted flash drive.
In this article:
- Should You Invest in an Encrypted Flash Drive?
- Benefits of Encrypting a USB Drive
- Approaches to Encrypting USB Drives
- How to Use Software to Encrypt USB Flash Drives
What You Should Know About Getting an Encrypted Flash Drive
USB Flash Drive Encryption Definition: The process of securing data stored on a flash drive to prevent unauthorized access or other processes (e.g. deleting or altering).
Should You Invest in an Encrypted Flash Drive?
In an age of cloud-based data, it may seem unnecessary to store files on a flash drive. In reality, however, flash drives are an important tool for transporting data. They’re convenient, accessible, and affordable. They are also incredibly easy to use. No matter how tech adverse you may be, you can probably figure out how to use a flash drive. Unfortunately, flash drives are not particularly secure. If lost or stolen, the wrong person could easily access sensitive files. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to give up on flash drives altogether. With a few protective measures, these USB drives can be as secure as any other device.
It’s possible to enjoy the convenience of a flash drive while keeping your data secure. In fact, an encrypted USB flash drive makes this easy.
Benefits of Encrypting a USB Drive
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In today’s mobile world, data is constantly on the go. While we think of this data as primarily moving in a virtual sense, it can still be physically transported from one location to the next. In many circumstances, physical transit may be more convenient, and sometimes, it may even be more secure.
Unfortunately, USB drives hold their fair share of security concerns. If lost or stolen, flash drives can provide unauthorized users instant access to a treasure trove of information. If not properly backed up, this data could be lost for good. Encryption allows for the continued use of convenient USB drives without worrying about security. Encryption is easy to achieve, no matter your comfort with tech. It’s also possible at minimal cost or even free of charge.
Approaches to Encrypting USB Drives
Do you intend to store or transport data on a flash drive? It is well worth your while to protect sensitive information via data encryption. When determining how to encrypt flash drive data, however, it’s important to determine whether you intend to use a file-by-file, hardware, or software approach. Each method holds its own unique benefits and drawbacks, as outlined below:
- File-By-File Encryption — File-by-file approaches to encrypted USB drive data are notoriously convenient and accessible. In many cases, this type of encryption is directly built into commonly used applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel. Often, however, those who take a file-by-file approach to encryption fail to protect all documents. It can be difficult to track which documents are currently encrypted and which require further security. This piecemeal approach to security can be risky due to gaps in coverage.
- Full USB Drive Encryption — While file-by-file encryption can be helpful in certain situations, many users prefer hardware encrypted USB systems built into USB devices. This approach tends to be more secure. Not only do these devices offer high levels of encryption, they sometimes boast advanced anti-tampering technology that can minimize the potential for unauthorized access.
- Software Encryption — If you have a specific unencrypted device in mind or have already stored sensitive data on an existing flash drive, you can encrypt the device yourself using your Mac or specially designed software on your Windows computer. This approach works for both new flash drives or for devices on which you’ve already stored documents.
How to Use Software to Encrypt USB Flash Drives
With the right software, it can be surprisingly easy to provide full encryption for any USB flash drive. The process will vary slightly based on whether you use Windows or a Mac. With Windows, most users depend on BitLocker for flash drive encryption, although some prefer VeraCrypt. Either approach is acceptable for securing flash drive data.
With BitLocker, encryption allows you to limit access to your flash drive. Once encrypted, you can only see files stored on the drive if you enter a password or use a smart card. A recovery key can be set up for your Microsoft account in case you forget or lose your password. Once you’ve selected your password preferences and desired encryption mode, the process begins; timing will vary based on the size of the flash drive.
Mac-based encryption is surprisingly simple. Once you’ve connected a USB stick to your computer, right-click the disk symbol and select the encryption option from the drop-down menu. Keep in mind that this approach only works for flash drives formatted with the HFS+ file system.
Watch the video below by AVME for a tutorial on how to encrypt a USB flash drive:
An encrypted flash drive can provide considerable protection as you manually transport sensitive data. Don’t leave documents stored in your trusted flash drive at risk; encryption is easy to achieve and absolutely worth your while if you prioritize data security. You will appreciate the peace of mind that comes with using encrypted USB drives.
Do you have any questions about encrypted flash drives? Let us know in the comments section below.