Password Protect a Flash Drive.
Today, I have a free download for you called TrueCrypt. It’s a program that allows you to make encrypted virtual drives so that your important data is password protected. While I have reviewed many programs that allow you to password protect certain items on your computer, TrueCrypt is the first one I have found that will allow you to password protect data on a flash drive. That means, when you plug your flash drive into any computer, you will have to enter a password in order to access the files you have encrypted. I think that’s awesome and this is the first free program I have been able to find that will do it.
Before I get into the specifics, I want to say how important it is for you to follow these directions carefully. Read over them completely before you do anything, just to make sure you’re comfortable with the process. Anyone can do this, as long as you follow along carefully.
First, you will need two things:
1.) A USB flash memory card. Any size is fine, but it must be blank.
2.) The free TrueCrypt software, which you can get here: http://www.truecrypt.org/downloads.php
Okay, here we go!
To begin, download TrueCrypt from the link above and save it to your desktop.
Next, find the file you saved on your desktop and install it. That will install the TrueCrypt program on your computer. It needs to be installed on the computer in order to set up the flash drive, but it will not be needed after that. Choose the Install option and then click Next.
After the installation is complete, plug your flash drive into the computer and allow the system some time to properly recognize and install it. That should happen automatically. Now, go to My Computer and write down the drive letter the system has assigned to your flash drive. On my computer, my flash drive has been assigned the letter J:, but it will probably be different for you. Please make sure you know the drive letter before continuing.
After figuring out the drive letter, close the My Computer screen. There should be a new icon on your desktop for the TrueCrypt program. Double click on that to open it.
When you open the program, you’ll see a screen with a bunch of drive letters on it. That screen is used to choose the drive letter that will be assigned to your encrypted files drive. TrueCrypt works by creating a new drive letter for your protected data. Anything you put on the new drive will automatically be secured by your password. We will now put the drive on your blank flash drive.
On the TrueCrypt screen, choose a drive letter by clicking on it. I chose letter X: for my drive, but you can choose any letter you’d like. After selecting a letter, click on the Create Volume button.
Next, we’ll go through the settings to create the drive. Please follow along carefully!
The first screen that comes up will ask you what you want to create. Choose the Create a File Container option and then click Next.
The next screen will ask you the volume type. Choose Standard TrueCrypt Volume and then click Next.
The next screen will ask you to choose the volume location. This is where you will need to know the drive letter for your flash drive. You need to tell the program where the encrypted files will be saved. To do that, click on the Select File button. A new window will open that allows you to look through your files. On that screen, go to My Computer and double click on your flash drive’s letter. After doing that, type “encrypted” into the file name box (you can actually type any file name here, I just chose “encrypted”). It should look like this:
Click Save and then click Next.
The next screen asks you about encryption options. You don’t need to do anything here, so just click Next.
Okay, now you should be on a screen that says Volume Size. That screen asks how much space you want to use on your flash drive for encrypted files. It will tell you how much space is available, but you don’t want to use it all. I chose to use 2,000 MB. That should be plenty.
After choosing your size, click Next. The next screen will ask you for a password. Type in the password you want to use for your files and then confirm it by typing it in again (no checks are needed in the other boxes on the screen). Then click Next. Note: The program will tell you that a very large password is recommended. It’s truly up to you how big you want your password to be. There’s no point in encrypting your files if you can’t remember the password for them later!
The next screen will actually encrypt the folder. The program creates an encryption code based on the movement of your mouse. Just move your mouse around for awhile and then click on the Format button.
Then just wait. This part will take some time. It’s formatting the drive so that you can use it.
After it’s finished, click OK and then Finish.
We’re done with the first part!
The next part is much quicker.
Go back to the main TrueCrypt screen (the one with the drive letters on it). Then go to the Tools menu and click on Traveler Disk Setup.
That will open the area to make the flash drive work on any computer.
You will then see a screen with a few options. Here’s what you do:
First, click Browse in the File Settings box. On that screen, select your flash drive’s letter (the one you wrote down before) and click OK.
Next, put a dot next to Automount TrueCrypt Volume. Then click Browse in the box below. Click on the file you created in the last set of steps. (I named mine “encrypted,” what did you name yours?) Then click Open.
Finally, put a check in the box that says “Open Explorer window for mounted volume.” Then click Create. Here’s what it should look like:
After clicking Create, you will get a message saying it’s done. Click OK and then close out everything.
Congratulations! You’re done!
Now, you can disconnect the flash drive and then reconnect it. It should ask you for your password and then open a blank space for you to copy your files.
Note: If you see a screen like this:
Just click Mount TrueCrypt Volume, then OK.
One last thing: In order for this to work correctly, you must be an Administrator on the computer you’re plugging the drive into. That’s the case most of the time, but if not, you can right click on the drive and choose Run as Administrator. That will fix it.
I know this seems like a lot, but it really only takes a couple minutes if you follow the directions. Plus, if you want to undo everything, all you have to do is go to My Computer, right click on the drive and choose Format. That will make it good as new, removing any changes you made. Enjoy!