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How to Encrypt a USB Flash Drive for Free

USB flash drive is the most convenient removable device people use to store/backup important data. For data security, you may want to encrypt the data on your USB flash drive. But encryption is not so easy for some files, and not all types of files support encryption. In this case, the best solution is encrypting the entire USB flash drive.

You might have thought it’s the only option to use some third party paid software provided on the internet to encrypt an entire drive. Actually, you can encrypt a USB flash drive for free on Windows computer.

How to encrypt a USB flash drive for free

The Ultimate and Enterprise versions of Windows Vista/7 and the Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows 8/8.1 have the built-in full-disk-encryption feature – BitLocker. With BitLocker, you can encrypt both fixed hard drives and removable drives for free. Now, connect your USB flash drive to your Windows computer, and then follow the following steps to encrypt the drive using BitLocker.

Step 1: Turn on BitLocker

1. Open Control Panel. Click on the System and Security -> BitLocker Drive Encryption link.

BitLocker Drive Encryption
2. Then you will see it lists all the internal and external drives on the computer. You can see two types of BitLocker Drive Encryptions. Click on the Turn on BitLocker link next to the USB flash drive.
Turn on BitLocker
Hard Disk Drives: With BitLocker, you can encrypt operating system drive and fixed data drives on the computer.
BitLocker to Go: With BitLocker You can encrypt external drives such as USB flash drives and external hard drives.

3. Wait while BitLocker initializes the hard drive.

Starting BitLocker

Step 2: Choose encryption method

Choose how you want to encrypt this USB flash drive. Use a password or your smart card. You can check the box next to Use a password to unlock the drive and type your password. Then click on the Next.

Use a password to encrypt USB flash drive

Tips: It requires you to follow its password policy to create a strong password.

Step 3: Backup recovery key

It will generate a recovery key, which you can use to access your USB flash drive if you forget your password or lost your smart card to encrypt your USB flash drive. So you need to pick a destination where you want to save the recovery key. You can save it to a file and print it. In Windows 8/8.1, you also can save it to your Microsoft account. After your recovery key is saved, click on the Next to continue.

Backup recovery key

Step 4: Start encrypting

1. Now everything is ready, click on the Start Encrypting.

Start Encrypting

2. Just wait while the encryption process is on.

Wait while encrypting

Note: Once encryption is complete, you have to access your USB flash drive with the password or the recovery key. You can turn off BitLocker to decrypt the USB flash drive just like you encrypt it. In addition, you also can encrypt a USB flash drive on Mac computer using FileVault.