The solution to password protect a USB drive depends on what you need to do and how much of the drives contents you need to protect.
If you only want to protect a handful of files on your USB flash drive then it’s probably simplest to save them with a password. Programs like Word and Excel make it fairly easy to do this. Before saving your file, go to the Tools menu. Choose Options and then click on the Security tab. You’ll be given the option to enter a password to open the file. Although the box only asks you to enter the password once, you’ll be asked to type it in again before you can exit from the Options dialog box. But once you’ve done that, you’re on your own. So make sure you can remember the password otherwise you’ll have to resort to a program to recover passwords before you can open it again!
More about how to password protect a USB drive:
For many people, this will be enough protection. After all, those photos of beautiful looking scenery from your recent holiday probably don’t need to be stored securely and there’s no need to go into more detail about how to password protect a USB drive.
If you need to store lots of data securely on your USB drive then it makes sense to password protect the complete drive.
For instance, you wouldn’t want other people to be able to get hold of your company’s data if your drive went astray, would you?
If you don’t mind splitting your USB drive into multiple “volumes” (kind of like virtual disk drives) and providing the files you want to protect aren’t too large, you may want to check out the free program Cryptainer LE. The biggest snag is that the maximum volume size is 25Mb. So if you’re dealing with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, you’ll be fine. But if you’re looking at Access databases and the like, it’s likely that you’ll soon run over this limit. It’s also a pain in the neck to have to continually swap drives, so remember that when you’re considering this program to password protect a USB drive.
The best compromise I’ve found is a neat piece of software called Flash Drive Security Software which lets you password protect specific folders on your USB drive or your complete drive. This is a good solution – you can leave those holiday photos for all to see whilst making sure that your backup copy of your login passwords and your company data are securely locked away.
Flash Drive Security Software uses a heavy duty file encryption method that uses 256 bit encryption – the same level of security that the government insists on for their own file protection and the kind of security that would give the NSA headaches to decrypt, let alone a casual hacker. So you can rest assured that the way you’ve chosen to password protect a USB drive is as secure as you can get.
The program is very simple to use and very affordable.