How to Encrypt USB Drive in Windows 10 with or without Bitlocker

March 25, 2019 Posted by to Tutorials

USB flash drive has risen to be the most prominent choice among data storage devices. For confindential data, it is highly recommended to encrypt the data with a password. Only authorized users could access the content within an encrypted USB. So how to encrypt an external USB drive with password? If you're pretty upset on data leaks, it's a decent strategy to password protect an USB drive.

How to Password Protect USB Drive on Windows 10 without Bitlocker (VeraCrypt)

As you might know, BitLocker is the default disk encryption software in Windows. But it is not the best choice because of the lower encryption speed and the disk can't be opened on non-Windows computer such as Linux or Mac. So if the USB dirve would be used on multiple computers, then VeraCrypt is the better choice. It is an amplified version of TrueCrypt, a popular free encryption software in the past. This free USB encryption utility can work on Windows, Linux and Mac with ultra-strong encryption algorithms. In addition, there are many encryption settings than Bitlocker.


Step 1: Download VeraCrypt on Windows from its official website. Open up the setup file and select 'Install' to proceed with installation on your PC. Alternatively, you can select 'Extract if you wish to carry VeraCrypt to be used on another computer.


Step 2: Click 'Next'. After, a dialogue will pop in confirming installation completion. Open VeraCrypt and select 'Create Volume'. On the next screen, select 'Encrypt a non-system partition or drive' and then 'Standard VeraCrypt volume'. Proceed by clicking 'Next'.


VeraEncrypt Create Volume


Step 3: In the next window, choose 'Select Device' to browse between connected USB drives. Your drive name will be listed under 'Label’. Select your partition and Click 'Next'.


Step 4: Later, select 'Create encrypted volume and format it' to format the drive before moving on with encryption. Alternatively, you may select the second option if you wish to move on without formatting. This selection encrypts data already in place and time required depends on data size.


VeraEncrypt Encryption Options

Step 5: VeraCrypt covers wide selections over types of encryption. If you wish to go with default one, select 'AES' for 'Encryption algorithm' and' SHA-256' for 'Hash algorithm'.


VeraEncrypt Encryption Algorithms


Step 6: Click 'Next' twice and enter the desired password under 'Volume Password'. Confirm by re-entering and click 'Next'.


VeraEncrypt Add Password


Step 7: To strengthen and add a unique division to encryption level, VeraCrypt uses a number of auto-generated cryptographic keys. Since it's automated, just move around your mouse swiftly until the progress bar located beneath turns green.


Step 8: When done, select 'Format' and confirm. The encryption process will start rolling in, which demands a couple of minutes or more depending on drive size and transfer rate.


How to Encrypt USB Drive on Windows 10 for Free (DiskCryptor)

DiskCryptor is also a freeware that replicates major VeraCrypt functions minimally. Possibly, it could be addressed as a lighter version of VeraCrypt. The downside is that DiskCryptor can't encrypt volumes of specific sizes and considerably slower.


Step 1: Download & install DiskCryptor. Open up, select your drive partition and click 'Encrypt' button.


Step 2: Select 'AES' as algorithm and 'none' for wipe mode. Next, enter your desired password twice under 'Volume Password'


Step 3: Click 'Generate Keyfile' and a unique key file will be generated for use which must be kept safe. Save it to your desired location. Soon, the tool will prompt to ask whether you wish to use the saved key-file or not. Confirm by clicking 'Yes'.


Step 4: Click 'OK' to gear up the encryption process and wait until completion. (Note: 4GB drive takes an approximate of 15 minutes to be completely encrypted. Integrate this timeframe depending on your drive's size to have a rough idea on how much time would it really take)


DiskCryptor USB Encryptor


How to Encrypt USB Drive with BitLocker on Windows 10/8/7

BitLocker is a dedicated encryption tool that gets preinstalled with Win10. If you choose to follow up this method, you won't have to go for another third-party utility. BitLocker isn't considered stable at locking drives. Moreover, drives locked using BitLocker aren't readable on other platforms like Mac. That's the reason why it is not ranked in first position of this article. It is pretty nice if the users only used the encrypted USB on Windows computers.


Step 1: Insert your flash drive and open 'This PC'. Under 'Devices and drivers', select your flash drive and right click.


Step 2: Choose 'Turn on BitLocker' and let the tool initialize the process. When done, check 'Use a password to unlock your drive' and enter your desired password twice.


Turn on BitLocker Windows 10


Step 3: Click 'Next' and you'll be assisted with different recovery options to choose from. You could either link this to your Microsoft account or save to a file. Preferably, there's an option to print, in case you need a hard copy.


Step 4: Select your desired recovery option listed under 'Save BitLocker recovery key as' to proceed with encryption. When a window pop-in with selections regarding encryption, select 'Encrypt used disk space only'. Make sure the 'Radio' button is checked and click 'Next'.


Step 5: Click 'Next' and you'll be assisted with different recovery options to choose from. You could either link this to your Microsoft account or save to a file. Preferably, there's an option to print, in case you need a hard copy.


BitLocker Encrypt USB


Step 6: Select 'Start Encrypting' on the very next window and the process should begin. 'BitLocker Drive Encryption' Interface will pop up to keep you updated on encryption status.


BitLocker Encrypt USB Completed



Bitlocker is simply adequate if you're an odd user. But when it comes to superior encryption & usability on versatile platforms, VeraEncrypt is your way to go. If you've felt a little tangled on replicating steps mentioned under VeraEncrypt, then DiskEncryptor will assist you for the cost of much more time.



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