Skip to main content

How to Encrypt Data on External Drives

It's not hard to lose a USB flash drive; it's even easier to steal one. If you're the victim of such a theft, panic is understandable. There could be work documents, private pictures, your kid's birthday party video, or amazing notes for a NaNoWriMo novel—anything—on that drive. It's unlikely to be the only copy—this is the age of online backup and sync, after all. But if you're crazy enough to trust your most important, irreplaceable data to a device that's even easier to misplace or forget than your keys, at least make sure that data is secure.

What you'll need is software for encrypting the data, and that software has to be portable, in that it runs on any PC without installation, since it will likely run from the flash drive itself. Note, these solutions also work with any external hard drive, for the most part, plus your much-harder-to-steal internal hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Encryption Software

The first choice should always be to try a free software solution. A current favorite these days is VeraCrypt. It's free, open-source, and Windows-only. It lets you create a volume/vault on your USB flash drive that only you can access, or encrypt an existing drive (as long as it isn't system necessary, like your C: drive), or optionally, encrypt the entire system drive so anyone who tries to install programs or read/write files would need to enter a password each time. That last one is overkill; stick to the first few options.
VeraCrypt install
The volumes created by VeraCrypt can be standard—they're visible but only the person with the password can get access—or hidden. With the latter, even if you're forced to give up the password, it's unlikely anyone can find your data to get access anyway.

When you go to install VeraCrypt, there's an option to Extract. Do that and extract the files to your USB Drive. That makes a portable version, so you don't need to have VeraCrypt on every system that you'll plug the drive into—but it does have to be on an administror-level log-in on the PC.

The VeraCrypt site has an excellent step-by-step tutorial. Another free option is CipherShed; both are off-shoots of the late, great TrueCrypt. BitLocker, which comes with select versions of Windows (the non-"Home" versions), can also be used to secure USB or external drives. If you prefer to pay, check out the $12.99 EncryptStick, which comes for Mac and Windows.

Secure Flash Drives

There are millions of USB flash drives around—I have three of various capacities littering my desk at the moment. So using third-party software to secure their contents makes great sense. But if you want security from the start, there are plenty of drives that come with security built right into the hardware.

A few select flash drives have a number pad right on the drive itself. You enter a PIN code before you can access the contents. They include the Aegis Secure Key 3.0, a $65 flash drive at 4GB with FIPS 140-2 Level 3 encryption (pictured right; it also comes in 8, 16, and 32GB versions).

If you think reaching for the number pad is an issue, there's also a few biometric USB flash drives. IronKey, by Imation, is a pretty well-known name for secure drives; it's F200 with built-in finger-swipe (pictured above) and throws in multi-factor authentication for your files. The price, of course, is much higher, with the base model with 8GB starting at $189 direct and shooting to a price of $649 for 64GB! It gets good marks for security, but most reviews also say its performance is lacking.

But you don't need to have anything fancy built into the hardware of your USB flash drive to be secure. Several models come with encryption software. It's held in a partition of the drive itself and looks to Windows like a CD, so it can auto-play activate when inserted, giving you instant access. Some options include the Kanguru Defender 2000 (4GB for $69); IronKey F150 (8GB for $139), Kingston DataTraveler Vauilt Privacy 3.0 (4GB for $35), and several more. All of these listed are base models; you can always get more capacity by paying more. For savings, be sure to compare on Google or using Amazon.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

HP's Spectre 13.3, the world's thinnest laptop

US tech giant HP has launched Spectre, touted as the world's thinnest laptop. The laptop is as thin as a AAA battery. Spectre measures 10.4 millimeters (0.41 inch) at its thickest point, this makes it slimmer than than the 12-inch MacBook (0.52 inches) and MacBook Air (0.68 inches). Another USP of the laptop is its copper design combined with carbon fiber that gives the laptop a premium look. It features 13.3-inch full HD screen with Corning Gorilla Glass. The laptop comes with 8GB LDDR3 RAM and 512GB SSD storage and runs on 6th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. It features a hybrid battery that lasts up to 9.45 hours on a single charge, according to the company. The laptop includes 3 Type-C USB I/O ports. Priced the laptop at $1,249 (Rs 83,121 approx), HP Spectre will be available in Asia-Pacific and Japan starting May. The company also launched EliteBook Folio notebook; Elite x3 and Elite X2 computing devices. Elite Folio EliteBook Folio n

Perks Of Not Being A Party Person

A hot, new club has opened in your city and there is a long queue of people waiting outside, dying to get inside. And you are one of those people who won’t even consider going to the club to understand what the buzz is all about, because you don’t like to party. This post is for those people who prefer to eat out with friends, have a movie marathon on weekends, or curl up on the sofa with a nice book in hand, instead of going partying. 1. You can easily win an argument over not partying, when someone is being judgemental 2. You have amazing conversations with your friends which you actually remember later on  Remember when…? :) 3. You don’t have to worry about driving home safely a fter a night out with your friends Or have one friend to stay sane and sober so that person can drive you back home. Instead, all of you sing songs when you are going out in your car. 4. No alcohol and no partying equals no hangover So you don’t have to spend the same amount of time y

11 Reasons Why You Should Date Your Best Friend

Friends are the best people of your life as you have an option to choose them. We all have a best friend who understands you more than your beloved one. So would it be fair enough if we date our bestie ? Let’s see some reasons why you should date your best friend.. 1. She/he understands you more than your parents Source Your bestie understands you even more than your parents do as they easily can relate themselves to you. 2. Bonding Source The best bonding you do have is with your best friend. 3. You know what he /she actually wants Source You know what exactly your best friend expects from you and hence your relationship will go smooth 4. You know each other’s past Source You both know each other’s ex, crush and it will be easy to get them over their past. 5. All secrets are out Source Obviously all your secrets are out and you don’t need to spy each other. 6. Love is already there Source There is an unconditional and selfless love in best