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Home > How To > How to protect a hard drive or USB with a password in Windows and macOS/Linux/GNU
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How to protect a hard drive or USB with a password in Windows and macOS/Linux/GNU

How to protect a hard drive or USB with a password in Windows and macOS/Linux/GNU

By  Adan Flannigan 2019-07-23 127 0

External hard drives and USB drives are the perfect way to take all our important files on our travels. But when these files are personal and private you may not want anyone to be able to access them in case your USB is lost or somehow removed. That's why all operating systems often give you the option to encrypt them and protect them with a password of your choice. Today we are going to teach you how to do it step by step with Windows with one of its native tools, and we will also tell you briefly how to do the same in macOS and GNU/Linux but in an even simpler way.

Encrypting your external drive in Windows

●  Install BitLocker


protect a hard drive or USB with a password in Windows and macOS/Linux/GNU 


The way external drives are encrypted in Windows has a name: BitLocker. This is a tool developed by Microsoft that usually comes pre-installed in almost all versions of its operating system, but otherwise you can get on its download page, where you have to download their 32-bit and 64-bit versions.


●  Activate BitLocker


The fact is that with this tool, to encrypt a USB or hard disk you only have to go to the folder "This computer" which lists all the storage units of your computer. If you don't know how to get to this folder just type its name in the Windows start menu and you will be able to access it quickly. Then right-click on the disk you want to protect and choose the Activate BitLocker option to start the process.


●  Setting password


protect a hard drive or USB with a password in Windows and macOS/Linux/GNU


You will enter a window in which you are given to choose two options to unlock the unit. Activate the first option, Use a password to unlock the unit, and then enter the password twice. When you click next, Windows will tell you that it will generate a recovery key in case you forget your password, and offer to save it to your Microsoft account, to a file, or to print it out. Choose the option you prefer, because the result is the same.


●  Two encryption options


protect a hard drive or USB with a password in Windows and macOS/Linux/GNU 


When you press next again you will have to choose between two encryption options. A fast one that encrypts only the space used and a slower one that encrypts the entire hard drive. The fundamental difference is that the slowest and most complete option will also encrypt data that you may have erased but can still be recovered. Choose the one you prefer and click Next.


This will take you to a new window with two more options for choosing encryption mode. The first is intended for fixed drives from a single device, such as hard drives that are inside your laptop or tower. The second, the Compatible Mode is the one you will have to choose if you want the USB or hard disk you are going to encrypt can be used in other Windows computers, and therefore it is the most recommended.


Press continue to go to the last window which lists all the options you have chosen for reviews that you have not confused with anything. If you're happy with everything, click Start Encryption. Depending on the settings you've chosen it will take more or less time, but generally it shouldn't be too much.


When you put this drive in another Windows computer, it will first give you a read error, but then it will show you a notification telling you that it is protected with BitLocker. When you click on it, a box will appear at the top right of the desktop for you to enter your password. When you do, you will enter the unit normally.

Encryption On GNU/Linux and macOS

protect a hard drive or USB with a password in Windows and macOS/Linux/GNU 


If you have a Mac, the process is even easier, since all you have to do is have the unit formatted, connect it to your computer and right click on its icon when it appears on your desktop. In the drop-down menu you will only have to choose the Encrypt option to enter the passwords you want to block it with.


In GNU/Linux distros it is also valid to right click on the unit, only in this case the option to choose is Format volume. The key here is in the type of formatting, since in it you will have the option Encryption. In this way, you will format the hard disk by directly applying an encryption with a password of your choice.


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