Password protect your flash drive

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It used to be that only true geeks would carry a flash drive around on a regular basis; I’ve had one with me all the time for years.  Now, it seems like everyone has one handy.  They are really convenient for backing up a file or taking a file from work to home (although Dropbox is a much better solution for that).

password protect flash drive

With convenience usually comes security issues.  A flash drive is small and easy to carry in your pocket, so that means it is also easily lost or stolen.  If you want your files to be protected (not viewable) by a stranger who somehow gets your flash drive, you need to have the content password protected.

Fortunately, that’s pretty easy to do with a little program called USB Flash Security (free).  Here’s how you do it.

1. Go to the company website (click here).  When you read the text on the site, you will probably notice that it was written by someone whose first language is not English (I believe the company is in Japan).

2. Look for the download icon.  There are actually 5 of these download links.  The first 4 link to trials of the paid version; you want to go to the last one in the list, which is the actual free version (the free version will only work on flash drives that are 4 gb or smaller):

password protect free version
3. Download the zipped file, then open it and drag the folder called “UsbEnter” to your desktop.  From inside that folder, double click to run the file “UsbEnter_Setup.exe”.

4. Click “Next” to go through an uneventful installation procedure.  You will now see a new icon on your desktop:

flash security icon
5. Double click on that icon, then click OK on the splash screen (you can also check “Don’t display again” in the lower left corner if you want).

6. Plug in your USB flash drive.  Note what drive letter is assigned to it.

NOTE: This process will wipe out all data on this drive.  Either add the password protection before you put any data on there, or copy all of the data temporarily into another folder while you perform this process.

6. On the next screen, use the tabs across the top to find your flash drive in the list.  Click the big “Install” button on the bottom of the window.  You will get a warning about all data being deleted during this installation.  Click OK:

flash drive security warning
7. Now you need to set the password.  Make it a good one!  Use upper and lower case, and a mix of letters and numbers.  You could even throw in a special character (like a dollar sign) to make it really secure.  You will have a space to enter a hint, in case you forget the password.  Also, you can choose whether or not to encrypt your data.  Click OK:

Flash drive password
8. After another warning about losing data, the installation will proceed.  When it is completed, you will see a window telling you that the installation is done. Click OK:

flash security installation complete
So now that it is installed, how does this actually work?

The next time you insert your flash drive into a USB port, you can open Computer (or My Computer on XP) and you will see that the name of the drive has changed – it is now called USBENTER.

Try to create a folder on that flash drive.  You can’t.  Try to drag a simple text file.  It won’t let you.  You first have to double click to run the file called “UsbEnter.exe” and sign in with the password you just created.  Once that is done, you will have the opportunity to view the drive and add or delete files from it.

In fact, once you are signed in, it won’t even show the password security program that is installed – it will just look like the drive is completely empty.  Now you can load up whatever you want to put on there, and know that it is secure.

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Laverne
September 20th, 2010

My main use of flash drives is to have available files for use on other people’s computers. So usbenter wouldn’t work unless I install that program on those computers. Right?
Laverne

Scott Johnson
September 21st, 2010

@Laverne: Not true. When you plug in the flash drive, the password protection program auto-runs from the flash drive itself, not the host computer.

Barry B
September 21st, 2010

Luckily, I tried this program out on an old 256mb flash drive first. I wanted password protection for use on public computers. This only works on computers logged in with administrator rights.

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