The purpose of encrypting your external USB drives and memory sticks is similar to full-disk encryption. It ensures that your files remain secure in case the USB drive is lost or stolen.

There are many situations these could happen:

Full disk encryption is an effective practice to protect yourself and your sources in these situations. Read on to configure BitLocker to protect your external drives. At the end of this article, you will learn to encrypt and use a USB drive for storing your sensitive documents.

BitLocker is the built-in full disk encryption software in Windows. Unfortunately, not every edition of Windows features this tool. Firstly, check whether you have Windows Pro or Enterprise edition on your device.

If you have another version than Pro or Enterprise, you must buy an upgrade from Microsoft. The good news is that you don't need to reinstall everything, the upgrade happens automatically in the background once you purchased a new product key. Follow these instructions to upgrade your system.

If you choose to write your backup recovery key down, never store it along with your laptop (e.g. laptop bag, your wallet)

Be careful. If you forget your password and lose the backup recover key, the contents of your hard disk is lost forever

From now on, the drive can be ejected as any other unencrypted drive. Simply right-click on the icon of the device, and select Eject.

When you pop the encrypted USB stick into your laptop, Windows will prompt your for the password to unclock the drive

Photo courtesy of William Hook