USB drives are not only cheap and portable but also, they can hold a lot of data in them. This feature makes it very useful for people who are often on the go. Have you ever thought of losing your USB drive? Or what if somebody copied your data from USB drive? Quite horrific thoughts to contemplate upon, aren’t they? So before storing your valuable photographs, documents, videos etc. It’s very important that you know how to password protect a USB drive with the help of password.
The market is full of software’s from those made by manufacturers like Sandisk, Western digital etc. to third party developers. These official software lock data on your USB drive with a USB password.
Just in case you erased all the data from the manufacturer and thought of installing a third-party software, there is another way. Use BitLocker To Go in Windows 10 to password protect external hard drive. If you’re using an enterprise or pro edition of windows 10 you can use this feature to password protect flash drive.
What is BitLocker To Go?
BitLocker to go is Microsoft’s encryption program which comes with Windows 10 enterprise and pro editions. It can help in encrypting your drive which prevents it from unauthorised changes and unauthorised access, especially caused by malwares.
It works for removable drives including USB flash drives, SD cards and external hard disk drives. BitLocker encryption feature supports NTFS, FAT, FAT32 and exFAT file systems. This means your USB drive has to be formatted with any of these file systems, only the you can protect it using BitLocker To Go.
How To Protect Your USB Drive With a Password Using BitLocker
It’s quite easy to password protect USB drive using BitLocker on Windows 10. Follow the below steps to learn how to put a password on a flash drive:
Step 1 – Connect the USB flash or hard drive you want to encrypt to your computer.
Step 2 – Navigate the cursor to This PC, find your USB drive and right-click on it. From the option, click on Turn on BitLocker option.
Step 3 – Tick off the Use a password to unlock the drive check box and enter a password you want to code on your USB drive. Re-enter the same password to get it verified and then click on Next button.
Note – Always use at least one uppercase letter, number, lower case letter and symbol to make your password strong.
Step 4 – Here, BitLocker offers you three ways to back up the recovery key. This comes in handy if you forget the password. A user can save the key to his or her Microsoft account (if using one to sign in), save to a file or print the recovery key and keep it in a safe place.
Select any one option you wish to go for and click on Next button to proceed.
Step 5 – Next appears a screen asking Choose how much of your drive to encrypt with two options as follows:
# Encrypt used disk space only (faster and best for new PCs and drives)
# Encrypt entire drive (slower but best for PCs and drives already in use)
We recommend to go with Encrypt entire drive option. Click on Next to continue.
Step 6 – Select the mode of encryption to be used. User may wish to choose any method but we suggest to select Compatible mode (best for drives that can be moved from this device).
Click on Next button.
Step 7 – Allow the system to begin with encryption by clicking on Start encrypting box. Encryption process will take a few minutes to hours of time depending upon the option you chose in Step 5.
You can perform other work on your PC while this process is running on. On completion, you will see a dialogue box saying “Encryption of E is complete.”
That’s it! Your USB flash drive is encrypted with a password. The next time you connect your USB drive into your computer, a warning message will pop-up warning that the drive is BitLocker-protected. A password would be needed to get access to the USB drive. You’ll see a prompt like this:
This is great when someone tries to manipulate the data in your external hard drive or if the USB is lost.
If you don’t want to use BitLocker, then there are many third-party software’s available. To password protect usb drive windows 10 use third-party software to choose to purchase an encrypted USB drive.
Ways To Turn off BitLocker & Remove USB Drive Password
To remove password from the USB drive and retain its normal condition, turn off the BitLocker for the USB drive. Follow the steps below to know how:
Step 1 – Plug in your USB drive to your PC, go to This PC and select the USB drive folder.
Step 2 – Double click and unlock the USB drive be entering the password.
Step 3 – Further, click right on the USB drive and select the Manage BitLocker option. This action will take you to BitLocker Drive Encryption window.
Step 4 – Under the option ‘Removable data drives – BitLocker To Go’, select the option Turn off BitLocker.
Step 5 – A confirmation dialog box will appear, click on Turn off BitLocker button to start the decryption process of your USB drive.
Once the decryption process is over, another dialog box will appear “Decryption of E: is complete” message.
You can also turn off BitLocker password through formatting the USB drive. After plugging-in your drive, right click on it and choose the Format option from the context menu. And that’s it, the security protection or lock from the USB drive is removed. This is great way to decrypt if you don’t have any important file on the USB drive.
Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ's)
Q1) How can I unlock BitLocker without password?
Ans. Go to This PC, double-click on the BitLocker drive in Windows explorer. Click on More Options and click on Enter recovery key. A recovery key is 48-digit key, enter and click on Unlock.
Q2) How can I change my password?
Ans. It’s simple and can be done anytime. Click ‘Options’ and enter your previously set password. Set and confirm a new password. Finish by clicking ‘Apply.’
Q3) How to store the recovery key?
Ans. A user can save the recovery key and recovery password to a folder, save it to USB device, save to the Microsoft account or print it and keep.
Q4) If I lose or forget my recovery information, with the BitLocker protected data be unrecoverable?
Ans. Mostly, yes. BitLocker is created to encrypt and protect the drive with proper password. Without the required authentication, the data becomes unrecoverable. A recovery password or recovery key is needed to unlock the encrypted drive.
Q5) What is the difference between suspending and decrypting BitLocker?
Ans. Decrypting BitLocker means completely removing the BitLocker protection and decrypt the drive fully. Suspending refers to keeping the data encrypted but encrypts the BitLocker volume master key with a clear key.
Q6) What happens if the computer is turned off during encryption or decryption?
Ans. If the computer is turned off, the BitLocker encryption and decryption process will start from where it stopped earlier, as soon as the Windows is turned on.
To conclude, it is quite easy to learn how to password protect external hard drive. To secure your USB this is the best method. Just as encryption is easy, same way decryption or removing password from USB drive is simple.