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How to secure an external hard drive with Windows 7

While convenient, USB drives can easily get lost or stolen. Find out how to secure your USB drive (and other storage devices) in just a few clicks.

USB drives, which come in a variety offunky shapes and sizes, are perhaps one of the most convenient ways to carry around your data. Mom wants home videos of the kids? Load 'em on a flash drive. Need to bring a PowerPoint presentation to class? There's a flash drive for that.

But unlike cloud storage services, which are often secured by a password and unique URL, thumbdrives can easily get lost or stolen, exposing your data to prying eyes. Watch the video to find out how to secure your drive (external drives included) in just a few clicks:

Now playing: Watch this: Encrypt your USB drive

Step 1: Insert your thumbdrive. Right-click it, and select "Turn on BitLocker..."

Step 2: Check "use password to unlock the drive." Enter your password. You'll then be asked to save or print a recovery key, which allows you to recover the drive in case you forget the password. Print it out and tuck it away, or store it somewhere safe online.

Step 3: Hit "Next," then "Start encrypting." This step might take a while, depending on how much data you have stored on the drive. But once complete, your drive is secured--the next time you plug it into a Windows machine, you'll be prompted to enter a password.

Note: BitLocker can only be enabled on Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate. However, once BitLocker is added to the drive, the device can be used with any version of Windows 7, and can be used in read-only mode with Windows XP and Vista.