Flash drives, thumb drives, USB sticks: whatever you want to call them, they’re more than keychain accessories; they can be used to carry essential information that you wouldn’t want to put online.
But there’s one problem that plagues most physical media. If you lose a CD, external hard drive, or USB drive, anyone who finds it can get access to whatever is inside.
But just like protecting your smartphone with a password, you can do the same with your USB drive. You can encrypt the entire drive, protecting it from people who don’t have the password (i.e. everyone except you).
According to The Instructional, the process is actually quite simple. If you’re on a Mac, make sure your USB drive is formatted with the Mac OS Extended filesystem, making it fully compatible with OS X’s encryption. Then, you can right-click the USB drive and encrypt it. Enter your password, and then you’re done.
You can also decrypt it with the same process, if you ever need a fresh drive or want to give it to someone else.
If you’re using Windows, you can use a program like TrueCrypt to encrypt your USB drive. The process is a little more complicated, but should yield the same results. In the end, your data will be more secure than ever, and you can rest well if you misplaced your drive with sensitive information. But next time, just store it in the cloud. Flash drives are so last decade.