How to Add Password Protection to Flash Drives

By Warren Davies

Flash drives were a major step up from floppy disks, allowing greater capacity, processing speeds and smaller physical sizes. However, these very benefits can also be liabilities. The more data there is on the drive, the greater the loss if the device is damaged, stolen or misplaced. Some of these risks can be mitigated by adding password protection to the flash drive. An encrypted, password-protected flash drive is exceedingly difficult to hack into, keeping the data private.

Step 1

Download and install Cryptainer LE. This is a free program that will encrypt and password-protect a flash drive. When installing, a number of options will be presented to you. Unless you are an advanced user and know what all these options mean, simply go with the default settings.

Step 2

Plug the flash drive into your computer. To ensure it is mounted properly, load up Windows Explorer and make sure the drive appears in the list of devices connected to the computer.

Step 3

Run Cryptainer LE. A window titled "Specify Cryptainer Volume Details" will appear. Click the "Browse" button, and then go to the location of the flash drive. Then, choose a size for a password-protected area. You can encrypt the whole drive, using several encrypted volumes if needed, but having both password-protected and non-password-protected sections of the drive gives an extra layer of security. This is because non-sensitive dummy files can be copied to the unsecured area, and a hacker might not even see the secured area.

Step 4

Choose a password. Use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using real words or words that have some meaning to you, such as names of pets, family members, and so on, particularly if you are an avid user of social networking sites where such information is publicly displayed.

Step 5

Click "Proceed to Create Volume." A progress bar will appear, along with a "Stop" button in case you need to halt the operation for some reason. Wait until the process is complete.

Step 6

Read the information boxes that appear when the process is finished, and then click "OK" when done.

Step 7

Check Windows Explorer again. You should find that the encrypted, password-protected area is now available in just the same way as an ordinary drive and can be ejected in the same way. To load the device, run Cryptainer LE, and click "Cancel" when prompted to create a new encrypted volume. Then, click "Load," browse the the volume, and click "Open." You will be prompted for your password. Type it in and click "OK."