USB Flash Drive and SD Card are extensively used for transferring large chunks of data and carrying GB’s of files. A lot of personal files are kept in these portable devices and all the information carries a security risk. To tackle this problem you can make use of encryption. In Windows 10, you make use BitLocker to encrypt your USB Flash Drive or SD Card to secure your personal data from getting into wrong hands.
With the help of BitLocker, you can safeguard your external drive from any kind of misuse. You can put on a password on entry, so that whenever the device is used to view or transfer data, a password is asked.
Steps to encrypt your USB Flash Drive or SD card
Note that this tool is only available in Windows 10 Pro and not with the home version.
- Plugin the flash drive, or the SD card and wait for the windows to recognise it. If AutoPlay menu comes up, choose Open Folder to view the files present in it.
- Now go to My Computer, locate the drive you want to encrypt and right-click on it and select Turn on BitLocker
- When you select the Turn on BitLocker option, BitLocker wizard will start up. Click on Use a password to unlock the drive option and create a new password.
- Now you will be prompted to back up a recovery key in case you forget your password. You can save a key using your Microsoft account or you can store it in a file or print the key. It is recommend that you store the recovery key in a file and keep a copy in different places.
- Now you will be required to choose how much of the device to encrypt. There are two options present, one is to Encrypt used disk space and another is Encrypt entire drive.
You can any of the two suitable to you and your drive will be encrypted.
Latest encryption mode
Now after the November update, Windows 10 version 1511 consists of BitLocker with the 256-bit (XTS-AES) encryption mode. This encryption will ensure extra security from hackers and further integrity support. Please note that it is not available for previous versions of Windows.
You need to choose the method of encryption for this. If you plan on using the drive only on the PC you are encrypting to, then go for the new encryption mode. However, if you wish to use the encrypted drive on another PC, then it is better to go with the old encryption mode as the new encryption mode will not work on another PC if it has the older version of the windows.
In BitLocker, it will prompt Choose which encryption mode to use. Now choose the New Encryption mode or the Compatible Mode based upon your requirement.
The amount of time taken to encrypt the entire drive will depend upon your system specifications, size of the drive and amount of the data present in the drive.
After the encryption has been completed, remove the drive and plug it in again to the PC. You will be prompted to enter password to access the drive. You can choose other options present like automatically unlock on PC or you can also enter the recovery key if you forget your password. To check whether the drive is encrypted or not, you can also see the icon of the drive in My Computer. If it’s a lock symbol, then your drive is encrypted.