How to Password Protect a USB Drive on Windows

A USB drive is convenient but also small, which makes losing or misplacing it both highly inconvenient and highly probable. With a capacity today of up to 64GB, it can be a real treasure trove for your information. Unfortunately, you can’t simply access this information online like with the cloud, Google Drive, or other online storage services. 

How to Password Protect a USB Drive on Windows

Once your USB drive falls into the wrong hands, valuable information could be at risk unless you’ve taken preventive measures that is. There are several ways to protect your USB with a password on both Windows and Mac.

How to Protect Your USB Drive With BitLocker

BitLocker Drive Encryption is a data encryption feature that protects your information from theft or unauthorized access. It’s free Microsoft software routinely installed on your Windows operating system, so you don’t have to take any additional steps and can immediately move on to making a password for your USB drive.

Here are the steps to encrypt your USB drive through the Windows BitLocker feature:

  1. Insert the USB drive into the computer.
  2. Press the “Windows” and “E” keys.
  3. Right-click your USB drive in File Explorer.
  4. Choose “Turn on BitLocker.”
  5. Click on the box next to “Use a password to unlock the drive.”
  6. Enter your password in the fields below. Press “Next.”
  7. Choose the method you want for saving your recovery key. Hit “Next.”
  8. Select “Encrypt entire drive” when asked how much of your drive you want to encrypt. Press “Next.”
  9. Select “Compatible mode” when asked to choose the encryption mode. Click “Next.”
  10. Click “Start encrypting” to begin the encryption process.

Note that the encryption process time will depend on the size of your drive. Additionally, your data isn’t secure until the encryption process finishes, so be patient. You’ll know your data is protected by a password once you get a pop-up saying, “Encryption of [USB drive name] is complete.”

After the encryption, you’ll notice a padlock on your USB drive icon in the Filer Explorer window. Before you’re able to view your USB drive files, you’ll be asked to enter the set password.

BitLocker Requirements

Keep in mind that BitLocker is integrated into the following Windows versions: Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, and Windows Server 2022. 

These Windows editions also support BitLocker:

  • Windows Pro
  • Windows Enterprise
  • Windows Pro Education/SE
  • Windows Education

Your computer must also have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 1.2 or later. Otherwise, you’ll have to save the startup key on your USB drive. If your PC does have a TPM, it should also have a Trusted Computing Group (TCG) that complies with BIOS or UEFI firmware.

How to Protect Your USB Drive With a Third-Party Password Protection Tool

The internet offers various third-party programs that’ll help you secure your USB drive data. They’re a good option if you don’t have BitLocker-compatible devices. The following sections will introduce two convenient data encryption programs that you can use to password-protect USB drive data.

With VeraCrypt

VeraCrypt is a free, open-source volume management software compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. For simplicity, the following steps explain how to use it to encrypt your USB data on Windows:

  1. Download and install VeraCrypt.
  2. Insert your USB drive.
  3. Launch VerCrypt.
  4. Press “Create Volume.”
  5. Choose “Encrypt a non-system partition on the drive.”
  6. Hit “Standard VeraCrypt volume.”
  7. Press “Select Drive.”
  8. Locate your USB drive.
  9. Select “Create encrypted volume and format it” or “Encrypt partition in place,” depending on whether your drive is empty or not.
  10. Choose encryption and hash algorithms.
    Note: If you’re unsure what to choose, select “AES” and “SHA-512.”
  11. Skip the following screen by pressing “Next” because you can’t change your USB size.
  12. Enter and confirm a password.
  13. Press “Format” once the progress bar turns green in the “Volume Format” window.
  14. Confirm the formatting and stay put until the encryption finishes.

With UkeySoft

UkeySoft has a multitude of features and services. One of them is USB drive encryption, which is another excellent alternative to Windows BitLocker. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download and install UkeySoft.
  2. Insert the USB into your computer.
  3. Select your USB drive.
  4. Set the secure area size below.
  5. Press “Install” and wait for the secure area to be created.
  6. Set and confirm the password.
  7. Press “OK” to finish.


Is BitLocker available for Windows Home?

Unfortunately, BitLocker is only available for Pro, Enterprise, and Education Windows editions.

Is BitLocker completely secure?

Although most Windows users will tell you that BitLocker is 100% safe, it can still be bypassed by the most skilled hackers. Nevertheless, it’s still better to use it as one of multiple layers of protection.

Do BitLocker and FileVault slow down my device?

There have been cases where BitLocker slows down systems. But that’s mostly the case with older or budget devices. On the other hand, there haven’t been complaints about FileVault slowing down people’s Macs.

Where can I find my BitLocker recovery key?

When creating your BitLocker password, you choose where to put your recovery key. It could be printed out on a piece of paper, in your Microsoft account, with your system administrator, or on an account you use for work or school if you ever signed into it through your device.

Secure Your Data on Time

Losing a USB drive with valuable personal or work information can cause a lot of trouble. How quickly could you recover from the fact that the USB with private business information is now somewhere on the streets, completely unprotected? It’s much easier to prevent these situations by setting a password on your USB drive.

Have you already tried setting a password on your USB drive on Windows or Mac? Let us know in the comments below which method you used.

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