10 Tools and Smart Tricks to Protect USB Drives

Contrary to popular belief, we all have something we would like to hide from others including our friends and family.  It might be sensitive work documents, medical reports, school reports or other private info that we wouldn’t entrust to someone else. Whatever they are and the measure you’ve have employed to protect them, a simple mistake like having your USB drive in the wrong place and time may cost you all your secret files.

USB drives are small, portable and easy use with any USB port enable device. This makes them ideal gadgets to transport data and a sure way to have all your sensitive files with your at all times. Unfortunately, USB drives are often lost or forgotten in wrong places which could be detrimental to the security of your data. This article summarizes a few important tools and tricks to help you secure your USB drive.

  • Encrypt your USB drive with Truecrypt: Encryption is a sure way to secure your data in case you misplace your USB drive. Encrypted data is useless to those without the decryption keys thus ensuring your private data is secure even in the wrong hands.Truecrypt is brilliant open source software designed to encrypt and password protect data in portable device. The tool employs a hard to crack 256 bits encryption which guarantees the security of your data at all times. All you need is to down the application package and run the set up on your USB drive. Read more on how to set up Truecrypt on your drive.
  • Create encrypted and hidden partition in Your USB drive: Sometimes the easiest way to protect something is to make it look like you don’t have it in the first place. Rohos Mini drives is great tool for doing exactly that. The tool enables you to create a hidden, encrypted, and password protected partition of up to 2GB on your USB flash drive.It employs a strong military grade encryption and can run on any system without requesting additional encryption drivers. Unlike Truecrypt, Rohos mini drives does not require you to have administrators’ rights to a system in order to access your files. This makes it possible to access your encrypted files from anywhere.
  • Manually save files with a password: The importance of strong passwords can never be overemphasized. Unless you use encryption, it is practically impossible to protect your entire USB drive with one password like you would do with your PC. In this case, you need to manually secure each file with a security key before saving it on the USB drive.Microsoft office application package enables you to password protect your files before saving. For Microsoft word running on windows 8, open the document you want to protect, click on File, under info section, you will see the option to protect document indicated by a lock and key. Make sure you remember your password for every document, go with making use of one of the best password managers to save all of your passwords – memorizing all seems like a tough task, right?
  • Use USB Safeguard to secure your USB drive: USB safeguard is another great application for protecting portable drives. USB safeguard sits in your USB drive and does not require administrators’ rights to access data from any windows system. The tool is open source software for windows with a strong on-the-fly AES 256 bit encryption which hard to crack.  All you need is to download exe, run it from your USB flash drive and enter a password to lock the drive.
  • Enable BitLocker in USB Flash drives: Turning on BitLocker is an easy way to protect your USB drive. The tool is pre-installed in all windows operating systems and enables government grade encryption in NAT, FAT32, or NTFS formatted flash drives. BitLocker is easy to use and fast way to encrypt data regardless of the size of your USB drive and your PC’s processing power.To turn on BitLocker, Insert your USB flash drive, Right click on the USB flash Icon and Select Turn on BitLocker on the drop down box. This will initialize the BitLocker set up wizard. On the Bit locker Drive encryption window, select to either Use a password To Unlock This Drive or Use My Smart Card to unlock the Drive. The Later requires you to have a smart card reader to unlock the drive. Read more on how to set up BitLocker.
  • Use IronKey encrypted Flash drives. Purchasing an already encrypted Ironkey key flash drive is a smart way to avoid the hassles of having to encrypt your drive. IronKey is marketed as the world’s most secure portable data storage device. IronKey USB drives are secured with  NIST-approved XTS-AES 256-bit encryption, the best you will get in any portable devices. Ironkey further protects you form attacks such as badUSB.Recently, Iron Key introduced S1000 USB 3.0 drive which is ten times faster than a USB 2.0 drive and twice faster than ordinary USB 3.0 USB drives. You’re tired of choices when it comes to choosing the right Ironkey USB drive. We recommend going for IronKey S250 and D250 USB 2.0 drives for devices with USB 2.0 ports. Otherwise try out the IronKey S1000 for devices with USB 3.0 ports.
  • Use Flash Drive Reminder: You probably have left behind your USB drive on countless times and forced to backtrack all the places you’ve been in an attempt to find it. Well, there is a trick to avoid forgetting your USB drive at the workstation or at the Cyber cafe. Flash Drive Reminder, is a tiny app that runs on your USB and reminds you unplug your USB drive every time your session ends.Flash drive runs only on windows operating system. Once you plug in a USB into any windows system, Flash drive automatically activates and requests permission to run on the background. When you close you session Flash drive prompts a pop up window reminding you to unplug your USB drive.
  • Sync the Files you need: Syncing is a smart trick to avoid physically carrying around your sensitive files on USB drives which could be disastrous at times. It also exempts you from copying files back and forth between your USB drive and hard drive. Web tools such as Syncback freeware and Microsoft Sync Toy enable you to sync your files between your USB and hard drive. They allow you to automatically copy, or delete files from either end.
  • Browse and Work Securely with DemocraKey: It is a portable application package that literally turns your USB drives into a portable windows desktop. All you need is to download the DemocraKey bundle, Run the application setup exe and folder will links to all your portable files. This is a smart trick to avoid copying file back and forth between your USB ad hard drive. The DemocraKey bundle comes compact with a browser, email client and an encryption tool to protect your data.
  • Set Your Drive to self-destruct in emergencie: Set automatically wiping out your USB drive in-case it’s lost or stolen. This should be the last option because data deleted cannot be recovered. A program named USB safeguard gives you the option to automatically wipe out all files, in case someone tries to access your USB using the wrong access code several times. USB safeguard is a portable program compatible with all windows systems.

To sum it up, the security of your data should always come first. Privacy is not always about having something questionable to hide but rather having greater control on your personal space. In this regard, we have discussed some of the best web tools and smart tricks to help secure your USB drive. In case you feel we have left out a tool or a smarter trick that could have made on the list, please feel free to write to us on the comment section and we will surely review it and update our list.

Top/Featured Image: By Usbmemorydirect.com (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Lawrence Mwangi Lawrence is a technology and business reporter. He has freelanced for a number of tech sites and magazines. He is a web-enthusiast, with a special interest in Online security, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. When not writing about tech he can be found in a Tennis court or on a chess board.

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