Storage forum

General discussion

Please help me find a cost-effective way to secure my flash drive

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 29, 2010 6:04 AM PST

Please help me find a cost-effective way to secure my flash drive

I hope you and your readers can help me with securing a flash drive. I realize that I can password protect and encrypt individual files that I save to a flash drive, but I'm looking for a way to overlay another layer of security to the whole flash drive, if that's even possible. I know that there are flash drives available with this kind of security built-in, but I'm looking for a more cost-effective solution for the flash drives I already own. I would appreciate hearing your readers' experiences with what's available, what works, and what doesn't work. Thanks!

-- Submitted by: Bob M. of Alexandria, VA

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Use TrueCrypt and a Password Hint - Other Recommendations --Submitted by DaveMiko

Try TrueCrypt --Submitted by Allan Press

Securing a Flash Drive - TrueCrypt --Submitted by Basuto9

Re: Flash drive safety --Submitted by sirpaul1

Thank you to all who contributed!

If you know of a solution for Bob, please click on the reply link and submit it. Please be as detailed as possible when submitting your answer and include any reference links that will help him. Thanks!
Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Please help me find a cost-effective way to secure my flash drive
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Please help me find a cost-effective way to secure my flash drive
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Try TrueCrypt

Try TrueCrypt at I've been using it for years with absolutely no problem whatsoever. And it is free to download and use.

Here are some of their highlights from their website:

Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux

Main Features:

Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.

Encrypts an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive.

Encrypts a partition or drive where Windows is installed (pre-boot authentication).

Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.

Parallelization and pipelining allow data to be read and written as fast as if the drive was not encrypted.

Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS.

Collapse -

TrueCrypt works for me... It adds a couple of additional steps before being able to access your flash drive, but in my opinion it's well worth the extra effort... If I lose my flash drive I am pretty sure I just lost the flash drive and not a lot of private information along with it (unless, of course it falls in the hands of an uber hacker, that is...)

Collapse -
Securing Flash Drive
by wwittmeyer / January 29, 2010 9:17 AM PST

I'm sure that at least 50,000 others will recommend the same thing (or 49,000): TrueCrypt.

It creates a secure vessel wherein you can save your files, otherwise protected or not. Free is pretty cost effective. Goggle, or Bing, TrueCrypt for the website.

Collapse -
Securing Flash Drive
by chandekarsumit / January 30, 2010 12:15 AM PST
In reply to: Securing Flash Drive

for this u can download a software" folder lock " this will help u to
keep your files safe and passwors protected

Collapse -

I will also recommend TrueCrypt, it is the best program to secure my files.

Collapse -
by bait28 / January 29, 2010 9:37 AM PST

I would recomend a free software called androsa that is a very effective way to secure files in AES security. although you need androsa to unencrypt it too.

Collapse -
Securing a Flash Drive - TrueCrypt
by Basuto9 / January 29, 2010 9:58 AM PST

I have secured several of my flash drives with 256 bit TrueCrypt (freeware, BTW). Works absolutely great, IMHO. Two points to remember, though. First, if you encrypt an entire drive, it will erase anything you already have on it, so you'll need to make a copy of whatever you wish to protect, then re-load it to the encrypted drive. Secondly, if you just encrypt the drive with True Crypt, you can only access it on any computer that HAS TC installed - otherwise, if you have enough room on the encrypted drive to install the TrueCrypt software also, then you can access the protected info on any computer. If this level of encryption is good enough for the U.S. Department of Defense, it should be good enough for your stuff. One last thing - there is NO way to get the info back if you forget your password.

Collapse -
Use TrueCrypt
by Roth99 / January 29, 2010 10:12 AM PST

You can secure a drive for free with TrueCrypt. Divide the flash drive into a small partition for TrueCrypt and a larger partition that will be encrypted. Install TrueCrypt on the small partition. Run it, and encrypt the second partition.

Collapse -
by mikearm0 / January 29, 2010 10:21 AM PST

Although, I have not used it yet, it is highly rated. It is open source, thus free ( You can encrypt a whole drive or just folders and more.

From their webpage:
# Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.

# Encrypts an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive.

# Encrypts a partition or drive where Windows is installed (pre-boot authentication).

# Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.

# Parallelization and pipelining allow data to be read and written as fast as if the drive was not encrypted.

# Provides plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:

Hidden volume (steganography) and hidden operating system.

# Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS.

Herndon, VA

Collapse -
Re: Flash drive safety
by sirpaul1 / January 29, 2010 10:41 AM PST

Before you listen to anybody who uses the word "encryption" Read this (Taken from 'Windows Secrets' 1/28/'10):

Donald Holliday sounds a warning about "secure" flash drives:

* "I thought you might find this H Security article interesting. It turns out, NIST-certified hardware encryption for flash drives has been cracked by a clever but fairly simple approach."

Thanks, Donald. In this case, the actual encryption wasn't cracked. The problem was the way it was implemented in "high-security" encrypted flash drives from SanDisk, Kingston, and Verbatim. All three companies use software that runs in the open on the host PC to validate their decryption passwords.

In theory, hackers could gain access to the encrypted data in two steps. First, they'd have to install malware on the host PC to "sniff" the plain-text password as it was entered there. Then, they'd have to steal or otherwise gain physical access to the flash drive to use the password to examine or copy its contents.

It's not a high-risk scenario; in any case, all the affected vendors are busy rewriting their software. If you use an encrypted flash drive from SanDisk, Kingston, or Verbatim, visit the vendor's site to download the improved software when it becomes available.

This still serves as an important object lesson: any security device, process, or technology thought up by clever humans can eventually be defeated by other clever humans. Be careful out there!

So, until the password is secure, there is no way to totalysecure portable flash drives at the moment.

Collapse -
PGP Desktop perpetual license

I have no financial interest in PGP, but I've used this product for several years to encrypt a portion of one of my drive partitions. One can also encrypt an entire drive using it... either in concert with a USB security key or not. I don't know of any reason why one couldn't encrypt a portable media drive like an SD card.

Collapse -
use a secure flas drive to begin with....
by Chinookman / January 29, 2010 11:15 AM PST

I recommend Iron Key......

even you browsing with FireFox is secure so you do not have to worry about losing the drive or others trying to crack it......
For the price it all depends on your personal value of you data.....and for me this is a chaep price to pay for my banking protection.... I do not use my company browser I use the FF .....

Collapse -
Iron Key is NOT cost-effective
by petershum / February 5, 2010 10:31 PM PST

Iron Key costs something like $100 for a 1GB stick. It is most certainly not cost-effective, which is what the person who posted the question asks for!

Collapse -
Are You Certain?
by cjohns / February 5, 2010 10:47 PM PST

It seems to me that to determine if a security technology is "cost effective", we have to measure its cost against the value of the information being secured. While I am not an Iron Key user myself, I can see situations where its cost might be warranted.

I DO agree that Iron Key does not meet Bob's requirement of securing the data on flash drives that he already owns.

Collapse -
TrueCrypt Is The Answer
by FundGuy / January 29, 2010 11:45 AM PST

TrueCrypt ( is a free, open-source encryption program that will do what you want, in a couple ways. One option is to encrypt an entire device, so that a person who plugs in the USB drive won't see any data at all. Another option is to create an encrypted "container" (file) on the device so that you can also have the TrueCrypt program on the device, which allows you to use access the data even on computer that doesn't have TrueCrypt installed. I have used it both ways on a variety of devices without any problems. My newest USB drive is 16GB and the whole thing is encrypted - performance is excellent.

Collapse -
True Crypt
by dcroyle1 / January 29, 2010 12:13 PM PST

Use Truecrypt it is free and open source. Follow the documentation from and This program is very powerful so BE CAREFUL if you encrypt something with it you WILL NOT BE ABLE to decrypt it without the password. I have used it to completely encrypt hard drives and it works transparently and with no noticable loss of system performance.

Collapse -
Use TrueCrypt and a Password Hint - Other Recommendations
by DaveMiko / January 29, 2010 1:58 PM PST

As others have said, use Truecrypt. Keep a part of the drive unencrypted, and copy the TrueCrypt software/application/driver there so you can install it (need to have admin privileges) on a PC that may NOT already have TrueCrypt on it. Unencrypted part of drive can also be used to store non-sensitive data (favorites/bookmarks, downloads, pictures, music).

Name the TrueCrypt Encrypted File (a "virtual encrypted disk") something like "", where DogCarPhone is a password hint ONLY YOU COULD FIGURE OUT, if your password is something like "FidoToyota5551212" (e.g., FIRST/OLD dog/car/phone number). Password should be long (12 chars min). Keeps data secure, but makes it easier for YOU to open file/drive, and remember password without writing it down.

Regarding Passwords:
Check out
for a good password manager/"safe" (use one VERY SECURE LONG Password to store ALL your passwords).

Need more SECURE storage space (with NO software to load)?
Check out the Apricorn Aegis Padlock portable Hard Drive (500GB, 128 bit AES HARDWARE encryption, built-in keyboard lock; about $125, or $150 with 256 bit AES encryption [a "top secret" overkill]).

Collapse -
True Crypt
by waddlepat / April 16, 2010 11:20 PM PDT

I have tried to use TrueCrypt, but I find it difficult to use. Perhaps I am not reading the guidelines correctly or I am not reading them correctly. Can anyone direct me to or provide me with more user friendly information on how to use TrueCrypt to secure the files on my flash drive.

Collapse -
Secure Flash
by cathydp464 / January 29, 2010 2:14 PM PST

I keep all 3 of mine in my posession... that's what I like about a flash, no one but me has it. Mine have company financial records for the books I keep, so they are either connected to my computer, the company computer or on my person.

Collapse -
by bobclark19 / February 7, 2010 5:01 AM PST
In reply to: Secure Flash

But what happens if you lose them, mugged, injured, accident, etc. - it does happen and that is why they want to encrypt so if it does fall in the wrong hands, it is safe.

Collapse -
Securing your flash drive
by wychdoctor / January 29, 2010 3:48 PM PST

The by far easiest method is simply this: Go to Google Translate web page and translate the documents to another language, like Russian. Even if the flash drive is stolen, and provided they can't read Russian, the chances of your documents being read is slim to none. Even with a Cyrillic font, the words would not be in English. When you get to your destination computer, log on to Google Translate and paste the Russian document there. Set it to translate into English, and voila! Oh, one word of warning... Russians don't use American slang or use the same way of showing possessive nouns, adverbs, verbs, etc. They also don't use " ' " (apostrophe)... so make sure your document does not have them. Use does not instead of doesn't...

Collapse -
re google tranlation by allan press
by pomojoe / February 6, 2010 4:33 AM PST

I do speak and write two languages and have a working grasp of two more,so belief me do not try back and forth translation,you'll never be able to recover your files,translating once, with internet free tools is acceptable,and one can figure it out,(but sometimes quite hilarious)but then it gets ugly when you translate the translation back to it's original contents.i.e. German to English and back to German,(and those two are quite related)you file is toast.Try it,its a hoot.

Collapse -
You Gotta B Kindin'
by nbase41 / February 6, 2010 6:35 PM PST

Wow, the first reply nailed it spot-on, so I have little to add except "Ditto".

Collapse -
encrypting flash drive
by bobclark19 / February 7, 2010 4:58 AM PST

But, if you change the language, if someone recognizes the language, can't they just do the same and go to a site (google) and also have it translated back?

Collapse -
by Dotuletz / January 29, 2010 7:24 PM PST

So... i see you don't look for a encryption method... but i will give you a full package

Here are some steps that can render any hacker quite annoyed:

1. Use software like Encrypt from PowTools first for encryption with AES 256. you can use any encryption software, but this is portable and has an option to put a password to it. It is free too, but you can use any lite app for this step.

2. Archive the files you have and put an other password to the archive. You can use even the 'Store' option so it will not compress, just password the files.

3. Use trueCrypt or Dekart Private Disk to put your files into a container, and password it with yet another time.

4. Major security risk: stop deleting your files, shred them !
I don't understand why the hacker would want to hack your passwords if he can read your sensitive data with a undelete software
There are a lot of shreders out there... just look for one portable.

And that is all.

In the future try buying IronKey Secure Flash Drive. it is worth the money. Or a Corsair USB flash Padlock wich has a numeric pad lock

Collapse -
Use 7Zip with encryption
by busybody / January 29, 2010 7:31 PM PST

its more primitive solution but you can zip your stuff and password protect it with AES-256 protection which is tough or even impossible to crack.
7zip is a free software so no cost here.

The downside, you need to uncompress the files in order to use them.

Collapse -
TrueCrypt will do the job.
by ajweidne / January 29, 2010 9:25 PM PST

Checkout This is a open source utility that will allow you to encrypt all or part of a disk or removable media. It creates a secondary volume that "mounts" using a password. Once mounted you can open, copy, move, ... files as you would with any volume. One nice feature is "Traveler Mode" which allows you to put the TrueCrypt application on the flash drive so you can easily access the encrypted volume on another system without having to install TrueCrypt on that machine.
Ahwatukee Al

Collapse -
Bitlocker - Microsof Windows
by Master3203 / January 29, 2010 9:49 PM PST

Hi. If you are using the enterprise, business or ultimate editions of vista or windows7, then there is a built in program called bitlocker, which totally encrypts the contents of the drive. It will also allow a full drive password-protected mode as well i think.

T use this prograkm however, you will need the above verisions of vista or 7 and also trusted platform module 1.2.

To use this osftware, you would need mto run the setup process to activate bitlocker on the hard drive and then when that's done, you can right click on your pen drive in my computer and select turn on bitlocker. You will then have to follow on-screen instructions.

Collapse -
Sharepoints Webpart Text Editor Can't Open
by eller_ua / January 29, 2010 10:35 PM PST

I am trying to edit a webpart in my Sharepoints site but I receive a message says "can't open text editor" every time a try to open the text editor to edit a Webpart. Any help or resolution?

Thanks, eller

Collapse -
Sharepoints Webpart Text Editor Can't Open
by MOHAMMED UMAR10 / January 30, 2010 5:14 AM PST

try online scan with mcafee might be a virus if not a software prob

Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions

CNET Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for great gifts under $100?

Trendy tech gifts don't require a hefty price tag. Choose from these CNET-recommended useful and high-quality gadgets.