How to Password Protect Your USB Flash Drive
A USB flash drive, also knows as a pen drive or a thumb drive, is a portable storage device. If you have sensitive data stored on your USB flash drive you should consider password protecting the data or the device to prevent unauthorized access.
There are two common ways to protect your data on a USB flash drive. You can either use encryption software to protect the data, or you can buy a special encrypted flash drive where the encryption algorithm is implemented right in the hardware.
If you already own a generic USB flash drive, and do not wish to buy a new encrypted flash drive, you can always go with option 1! There are several encryption programs available out there. In this blog post, we will discuss how TrueCrypt, an open-source disk encryption software, can be used to protect a USB flash drive.
Before you proceed you will need to install the encryption software; make sure that the following items are handy:
- A computer with the Windows® operating system
- A working USB port
- Administrative rights on the PC
- A copy of TrueCrypt installer. (Download the recent version of TrueCrypt here.)
1. Locate the downloaded TrueCrypt executable file, and double click on it to begin the installation.
2. Review the license agreement and click the ‘Next’ button.
3. Select ‘Extract’and click the ‘Next’ button.
4. Connect the USB flash drive and click the ‘Browse’ button.
Note: If you have any data on the USB flash drive, make sure you back it up before proceeding further.
5. Select the USB flash drive from the list and click the 'OK' button.
6. Type ‘TruCrypt’ after the USB flash drive letter, and click the ‘Extract’ button.
7. TrueCrypt will extract all the necessary files to a destination path (i.e. USB flash drive under directory TrueCrypt). Click the ‘OK’ button.
8. Click ‘Finish’.
9. TrueCrypt will open the destination folder in Windows Explorer. Run the ‘TrueCrypt.exe’ file by double clicking on it.
10. Click the ‘Create Volume’ button.
11. Select the ‘Create an encrypted file container’ radio button and click ‘Next’.
12. Select the ‘Standard TrueCrypt volume’ radio button and click ‘Next’.
13. For Volume Location, type the drive letter followed by the TrueCrypt container file name. Remember to specify the file extension, i.e. ‘.tc’. Click the ‘Next’ button to continue.
In the above example, ‘G:\’ is the drive letter for your USB flash drive and ‘mydata.tc’ is the TrueCrypt container file name.
14. We recommend that you proceed to the next step using the default option. Click ‘Next’.
15. Type in the volume size and select the appropriate radio button (KB/MB/GB). For example, if you want to create volume of 1GB, type ‘1’ and select ‘GB’. Click the ‘Next’ button to continue.
16. Type in a password for the encrypted volume. Make sure you select a password that is strong, easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess. Click the ‘Next’ button to continue.
17. In this step, move your mouse within the below window. Moving the mouse randomly within the tool’s window significantly increases the cryptographic strength of the encryption
keys. When you are done, click the ‘Format’ button.
18. Sit back and relax while TrueCrypt creates the encrypted volume. This may take several minutes depending on the volume size you specified in step number 15.
19. Click the ‘OK’ button when you see the following message.
20. Click ‘Exit’. Congratulations! You have successfully created an encrypted volume on your USB flash drive. Use encrypted volumes to store all your important files. Now we will show you how TrueCrypt provides protection when you connect your USB flash drive to a computer.
How to Use your Password Protected/Encrypted USB Flash Drive
1. Connect the USB flash drive to an empty USB port. You will notice there is a folder and a .tc file (the encrypted volume). Double click on the folder.
2. Double click the ‘TrueCrypt.exe’ file to launch TrueCrypt.
3. Click the ‘Select File…’ button to select the encrypted volume (the .tc file).
4. Select the file that you would like to open. In this example, we will select the ‘mydata.tc’ file. Click the ‘Open’ button.
5. Select a drive letter from the list, and click the ‘Mount’ button.
6. Type in the password for your encrypted volume and click the ‘OK’ button.
7. Upon successful authentication, you will be able to access the encrypted drive! You can now use the encrypted volume to store all your important files. To store files, simply copy the files into the mounted volume. You can also perform other operations like deleting or renaming a file.
8. This is the last and one of the most important steps. When you are done accessing your encrypted volume, make sure you dismount the encrypted volume using the TrueCrypt tool.
If you need help or have questions completing the above steps, feel free to leave a comment here, or on our Facebook® Page and we will be more than happy to assist you!