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How to Put a Password on a Flash Drive Without Software

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - how to put a password on a USB flash drive on Mac
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A flash drive is a great way to store your most essential documents and files. You may ask yourself, however, “can I password protect a USB stick?” This added security feature can help ensure that no one else has access to the information stored on the device, even if you lose it.

Many choose to use software, including WINRAR, to add a password to or encrypt their thumb drives. Unfortunately, these can prove to be costly and take up valuable space on your computers. To learn how to put a password on a flash drive without software, use the information provided below.

Use Your Mac to Password Protect Your Flash Drive

Apple computers have built-in software to help you password-protect and encrypt your flash drive. You must understand how to format your storage device before beginning the process, however.

GUID Partition Map Formatting

Encrypting your device is the first step in learning how to put a password on a USB flash drive on Mac devices. The Desk Utility software will help you create the GUID Partition Map formatting.

Under Disk Utility, you will need to erase and reformat your USB drive. Be sure to temporarily save your files to the Mac itself before starting.

Erasing the Device

  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Look to the left side of the screen, clicking on the appropriate disk.
  3. Click the tab labeled “erase”
  4. Press “erase” on the bottom right of the screen

To securely erase your files from the thumb drive, press the button labeled “security options.” A variety of options will show, including even one that meets the Department of Defense’s 5220-22M standards. Look to the list below to see the wide range of selections

  • Don’t Erase Data – Removes catalog, keeps data
  • Zero Out Data – Zeroes out all data
  • 7-Pass Erase – Erases according to Department of Defense’s 5220-22M standards
  • 35-Pass Erase – Writes over the data over 35 times

There are also security options for OS X Yosemite only. Those are in the information below.

  • Fastest – Recovery app can access erased data
  • Zero Out the Data – Zeroes over all data in the disk
  • Three-Pass – Two parts random data and one part known data
  • Most Secure – Erasing methods that meet the standards of the Department of Defense’s 5220-22M

Reformatting the Disk

Remember, erasing the thumb drive is not all you have to do before password-protecting it on a Mac. You also must reformat it to GUID Partition Map style. Again, you will have to open Disk Utility to perform the below steps.

  1. Open the Disk Utility app.
  2. Select the appropriate drive on the left side of the window.
  3. Press the “erase” tab.
  4. Change the name from “untitled.”
  5. Under the “Scheme” menu, choose “GUID Partition Map.”
  6. Go to the “Format” menu, and choose the appropriate option.

Under the “Format” menu, there are a variety of options that you can choose. Each is compatible with a different operating system.

  • Apple File System (APFS) – OS 10.13 and after
  • Mac OS Extended – OS 10.12 and earlier
  • MS-DOS (FAT) or ExFAT – Windows

Adding a Password

After you reformat and erase the device, you can add your files back onto it. The final step in knowing how to put a password on a USB flash drive on Mac computers is to add the encryption. See the below steps to learn more.

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Right-click on the USB drive in the list.
  3. Press the button labeled “encrypt.”
  4. Type in the password you want to use.
  5. Enter it again in the “verify password” box, then type a hint to help you remember.
  6. Click on “encrypt device.”

Anytime someone wants to access the files on your USB device, they will have to enter a password. This method helps you know how to put a password on a flash drive without software.

Use a Windows PC to Password Protect Your Flash Drive

Windows computers allow you to encrypt your flash drive by using a built-in program called BitLocker. Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 7 Ultimate, and Windows 10 Pro all come with this software.

You should know that you can unlock and lock thumb drives between Windows 7 and Windows 10 computers. It is not possible, however, to interchange with an OS operating system. Use the steps below to start the encryption process.

1. Open Windows Explorer.
2. Right-click on the appropriate drive.

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - right click

3. Press “Turn on Bitlocker.”
4. Check the box labeled “use a password to unlock the device.”

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - turn on bitlocker

5. Type in the password you want to use twice.
6. Select the option for how you want to save the recovery key. (Print, save to your account, save in a file)

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - click on unlock

7. Choose if you only want to encrypt the disk space or the whole drive.
8. Press “start encrypting.”

how to put a password on a USB flash drive on Mac - start encrypting

Next time you plug the USB device into your computer, you will have to enter the password you chose. Bitlocker does allow you to select devices in which you automatically unlock the flash drive.

BitLocker Requirements

To use BitLocker on your computer, there are more requirements to consider. It cannot simply be a Windows computer. Other necessities include:

  • TPM 1.2 or higher computers
  • TCG-Compliant BIOS firmware or TCG-Compliant UEFI firmware
  • Firmware has support for Static Root of Trust Measurement
  • Support for a USB mass storage class
  • Two drives on the hard disk
  • NTFS file system on the operating system drive
  • Non-encrypted system drive
  • FAT32 file system with UEFI firmware and NTFS file system with BIOS firmware
  • Recommendation of a 350 MB system drive
  • Installation of the Enhanced Storage feature

If you have a Windows computer, but it does not meet these requirements, you cannot use Bitlocker. You still have options, however.

Other Options

Device Encryption

Device Encryption is a perfect option for you if you have a Windows 10 computer or your product is not compatible with Bitlocker.

1. Right-click on the drive, and press “settings.”
2. Click the button labeled “update & security.”

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - update recovery

3. Press “device encryption.”
4. Choose the option labeled “turn on.”

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - turn off

No App Usage

If you do not want to use an app, you can use basic locking mechanisms. Follow the steps below.

1. Right-click on the thumb drive.
2. Press “use password to protect the device.”
3. Enter the password you want to use.
4. Continue clicking “next.”
5. Press “save the key for future reference.”

You should know that you can protect specific files on your thumb drive if you do not need to encrypt the whole device. Follow the steps below to learn how.

1. Right-click on the file.
2. Press “properties” at the bottom of the menu.
3. Choose the button labeled “advanced.”

how to put a password on a USB flash drive on Mac - properties - advanced

4. Press “encrypt contents to secure data.”
5. Select the button labeled “apply.”

how to put a password on a flash drive without software -encrypt contents to secure data

Changing the Password

You likely now know how to put a password on a flash drive without software, no matter your operating system. Sometimes, however, you need to change the word you use, whether someone else got access to it or some other event.

Make Changes on a Mac

After you encrypt your thumb drive on a Mac, there is no simple way to change the password. You will have to go through the process of erasing and reformatting it again, as mentioned above.

Make Changes on a Windows PC

Through Bitlocker, you can change the settings on your thumb drive. You only have to right-click on the device and press the button labeled “change Bitlocker password.”

Disabling Encryption

It is possible to disable the encryption on your thumb drive on your Windows and Mac computers. You can use the device easily on any other computer after taking this action, so long as you ensure your files are safe.

Disabling a Password on a Mac

The process is so simple when wanting to remove the password from your USB drive on your Mac. Follow the steps below to learn more.

  1. Right-click on the device folder.
  2. Press ”decrypt USB stick.”
  3. Enter your password
  4. Click “confirm.”

Do not worry if the process takes a few minutes to complete. When you receive the notification, however, remove your flash drive as you typically would.

Disabling on a Windows PC

When you disable your password on a Windows computer, you permanently remove the encryption. Again, this action may be essential if you want to use the device on a computer that does not have Bitlocker.

1. Open File Explorer.
2. Right-click on the appropriate device.

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - manage bitlocker

3. Press “manage BitLocker.”
4. Click “turn off BitLocker.”
5. Choose “confirm.”

how to put a password on a flash drive without software - turn off

Again, Windows computers may take a few minutes to complete the process as well. When done, you will receive a notification so that you can use your thumb drive safely again.

Password Protect Documents

If you use Microsoft Office for your files, you can use a password to protect the documents specifically. This process works whether you have a presentation, paper, or spreadsheet completed on your thumb drive.

Though this article focused on how to put a password on a flash drive without software, protecting specific files is a strong alternative. You do not have to worry about losing access to your other documents, for instance, if you lose the password on the thumb drive itself. You can add the password to your documents using the below steps.

1. Open the file in Microsoft Office.
2. Click on the “File” tab.

how to put a password on a USB flash drive on Mac - click on file

3. Scroll down to “info.”
4. Press “protect document.”

Password Protect Documents - protect document

5. Go to “encrypt with password.”
6. Type in your password, and confirm.

Password Protect Documents - encrypt with password

Protect Your Information

Earlier, this article mentioned a question, “can I password protect a USB stick?” By now, you should know the answer. This action is possible on both Windows and OS computers.

The information above taught you how to put a password on a flash drive without software. When following the many methods and steps, you will be sure to protect your documents and your devices from harmful users. These methods are the best ways to keep your data secure.

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