Password Protect USB Drives in Windows 10

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Sep 28, 2020 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

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In the past, it was common to use locked filing cabinets to protect critical information and due to technological evolution it was necessary to develop security systems that allow the transport of digital information in a secure manner, that's why Microsoft decided to incorporate BitLocker among its native tools. BitLocker not only protects the data with a password but also encrypts the information so that it is completely illegible even for the most skilled hackers. In this post, I will explain in detail how this tool works, and I will also teach you how to use it.

Part 1: Methods to Protect Your USB Drive with A Password

Q: I have a USB where I store a lot of important personal information because I don't want to have physical copies of my information in my car or at home, however, I am aware that my USB could easily end up in the wrong hands and I would like to know if there is an easy way to protect USB drives in Windows 10. Can someone help me?

There are several alternatives to create security filters that protect your information, however, many of those options focus on creating an access system controlled by security keys and this does not necessarily mean that the information is protected because, despite the fact that there is a password, the information is still intact and even visible depending on the specific situation.

So, what is the most reliable method to protect access to a device or folder? The answer is called "encryption." Data encryption works in a different way, this process takes 128-bit fragments of the original file and divides them into blocks of bytes, which are restructured in order to generate confusion, in parallel creating an algorithm that works as a digital key to restore the original structure of the file's byte blocks.


Part 2: What Is BitLocker to Go?

BitLocker To Go is a Windows native data encryption and security tool derived from BitLocker. By default, BitLocker uses the standard AES encryption algorithm with which you can reliably protect information from virtually any storage unit. This tool is designed to facilitate the user experience; therefore, you can use a simple password instead of the 48-digit recovery key, and also, being a native Windows tool, you can recover your password in case you forget it through your linked Outlook account.


Part 3: Protect Your USB Drive with a Password Using BitLocker

As I mentioned before, BitLocker To Go is the most reliable option to keep your information safe, but you should keep in mind that this tool is not only protecting your information with a password, but it is encrypting your information so that it is unreadable by any user who does not have the encryption key, so you must be very careful not to lose this key since if this is the case, the information would be inaccessible even to you.

Step 1: How to enable BitLocker

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To access this tool, simply right click on the USB device from the Windows file explorer and click on the "Turn on BitLock" option.

Step 2: Set a password

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A pop-up window will appear from which you can choose the method to unlock the device. Select "Use a password to unlock the drive" and enter a password that you can easily remember. When you're done, click "Next"

Step 3: Set a key recovery method

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After setting a password, the BitLocker setup wizard will ask you to set up a key recovery method. Remember that if you keep a digital copy on your computer or if you decide to print it, you run the risk of accidentally losing it or even that some unauthorized person finds this information.

As I mentioned before, if you choose the option "Save to your Microsoft Account", you will receive an email in the Outlook account that you have linked to your operating system, in this way you will be sure that your backup will always be available in the Microsoft cloud already Unless you give your Microsoft account password to someone else, it will be practically invulnerable to attack.

Step 4: Set a range of encrypted space

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The BitLocker setup wizard will ask you to define the amount of space you want to encrypt. The first option will encrypt only the information that is currently stored on the device while the second option will configure the device so that the total space of the device is encrypted. The second option is the one that offers greater security to your device but is a slower process.

Step 5: Select a compatibility range

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This is the last step to configure before starting the encryption process. You will need to designate a compatibility range for the encryption method. Keep in mind that the first option is focused on fixed devices that will not be moved at any time, therefore, it will be incompatible with other computers that try to access the device. This is a great advantage but in the case of a USB, it is likely that you need the device to be accessible from other computers that have the access key, therefore, I recommend that you use the second option "Compatible mode."

Step 6: Confirm the process

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You are almost finished but for security reasons, you must confirm that you want to encrypt the device information. Click on "Start encrypting"


Part 4: Accessing the Password Protected USB Drive

If you have correctly followed the steps I mentioned above, your information will be encrypted and each time you try to access the device you will have to provide the access key that you established when configuring BitLocker.

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Remember that if at any time you forget your password you can enter the recovery key by clicking on "More options."


Part 5: Turn off Bitlocker and Remove USB Drive Password

If you changed your mind and want to use another security method or simply remove BitLocker encryption from your device, I'll explain how to do it below.

Step 1: Go to BitLocker configuration

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Go to the Windows menu, type "Manage BitLocker" and click on its shortcut.

Step 2: Remove the encryption from device

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Inside the BitLocker configuration panel, click on the "Turn off BitLocker" option, this and other options related to BitLocker are next to the icon and name of the drive that you've encrypted.

Step 3: Confirm the process

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A pop-up window will appear asking you to confirm the BitLocker disabling process. Click on "Turn off BitLocker" to finish.


Part 6: Recover data from a formatted USB

Encrypting the information on a USB drive is an excellent way to protect your data against practically any user, however, data encryption is a concept that not everyone knows and it is for this reason that on many occasions, when an unauthorized user is He finds an encrypted USB drive, his first reaction is to format the device and it is understandable that you do not want to lose the information that you have put so much effort to protect. Fortunately, there is an easy way to solve this problem through Recoverit. This software is capable of recovering information from practically any storage device with just a few clicks, however, assuming that the information on your USB was encrypted before the device was formatted, you must have your recovery key or password to be able to decrypt its content. Below I will show you how to use it.

Step 1: Select the external device

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To recover files from a removable storage media, please select the device as the target location. And then hit on the "Start" button to move forward.

Step 2: Scan the external device

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An all-around scan will be launched on the external storage media. Wait a few minutes to finish the scanning. During the process, you can locate the targeted files, as well as pause or stop it. Once the process has finished, click on "Recover"

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Conclusion

There are many ways to protect the data of a USB but most of those methods won't be enough to keep intruders away. BitLocker is a native Windows tool that offers a much higher level of security because the security process encrypts the data of the device, making them completely unreadable even if specialized data extraction devices that can ignore the device's read restrictions were used. In this way, you can protect your data so that no unauthorized user can open it, in addition, if someone decides to format your device, you can always recover all the information with Recoverit.

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