We’ve come at apoint when flash drives are not only portable, they’re also able to hold a lotof data. That makes them ideal for professionals who are always on the go.

But before youstore valuable information in your USB drive, you should learn how to secureit. This would prevent thieves from stealing the contents of your storagedevice.

Here are some of the ways you can password-protect your flash drive .

PasswordProtection with BitLocker

Note: BitLocker is available onWindows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise.

The easiest wayto protect your files is to set a password for the entire flash drive. Windows10 has a built-in feature that’s designed for this purpose calledBitLocker. 

Connect yourflash drive to one of the USB ports on your computer. Open Windows Explorer (Windows + E) then right-click your USB drive.Select Turn on BitLocker. At thispoint, it will ask you to add and confirm your password. Once done, click Next.

On the nextscreen, specify how you’d like to receive your recovery key. Set yourpreference then click Next.

On the nextscreen, select Encrypt Entire Driveand move to the next page. Under ChooseWhich Encryption Mode, select CompatibleMode. Finally, hit Start Encryptingto begin securing your flash drive.

Once done, head onover to Windows Explorer. Check the icon for your USB flash drive. There shouldnow be a padlock on it to indicate that the content is secure. Double-clickingon the icon will now prompt you to enter a password.

It is at thispoint that you should remember your password.

Protect Individual Files

If you’re aWindows 10 Pro or Enterprise user, then you can use BitLocker to secureindividual files. But Windows Home users aren’t so lucky. There are, however,some workarounds to securing specific files in your USB drive.

MSOffice

If you’re usingMicrosoft Office, you can use its built-in solution for protecting data. Openthe file you want to add a password to. Go to File > Info. Under Protect Document, select Encrypt with Password. Enter a passwordand confirm it before clicking OK.

Now users wouldneed to enter a password before they can view the file.

WinZIP

This step wouldrequire you to install WinZIP or similar compression software. A WinZIP file iscommonly used to compress folders. But this program (and others like it) havean option that lets users add a password to encrypted files.

Compressing afile and adding a password is a straightforward process. Right-click on thefile you want to be compressed, select Add to Archive, and turn on the optionto set a password.

Third-partysoftware

There arethird-party vendors who offer data encryption solutions to the mass market. Youdo have to be careful when using one of these. Make sure you only download fromtrusted sources and companies.

Bonus:Hardware solutions

There are hardware-based solutions for those who are serious about encryption. Some have physical buttons you use to unlock the device . Others require software instead.

However, this type of USB can be expensive. Buying devices with advanced security features like data encryption may be overkill for most users, especially if they’re offered at a steep price point. However, they are an excellent choice for highly sensitive files.