A USB drive, as a portable data storage device, greatly facilities data backup and transmission. However, because of its portability and mobility, a USB drive can be lost, stolen, or end up in the wrong hands. If so, your data or privacy will be viewed or even abused by others. So, to keep your data secure, it’s a good idea to encrypt your USB drive with a password. This way, anyone would have to unlock the USB drive with the correct password to access the data on it.

We all know that the most common way to encrypt a USB drive is to use the BitLocker feature included in the Windows operating system. However, Windows Home Edition does not support BitLocker. So what if you’re not comfortable with BitLocker, or if your Windows doesn’t have BitLocker functionality? Fortunately, BitLocker isn’t the only way to encrypt USB drives. In this article, we’ll show you how to encrypt a USB drive on Windows 10 without BitLocker.

Method 1: Encrypt USB drive without BitLocker via iSunshare SafeUSB Genius

iSunshare SafeUSB Genius, a small but powerful USB encryption tool, is a great way to encrypt your USB drive on Windows 10 without using BitLocker. The tool has the following features.

  • Safely and quickly password protect USB drives with encryption.
  • Easily encrypt, decrypt, lock, and unlock USB drives.
  • Supports all USB drive types, including flash drives, external hard drives, and more.
  • Compatible with all Windows versions and editions.

Here is how iSunshare SafeUSB Genius helps you encrypt a USB drive on Windows 10 without BitLocker.

Step 1: Download and install iSunshare SafeUSB Genius on your Windows 10.

Step 2: Connect the USB drive you want to encrypt to a USB port of your PC.

Step 3: Run iSunshare SafeUSB Genius and it will automatically detect the connected USB drive. The software page displays the basic information about the USB flash drive, including drive letter, size, and encryption status. Make sure to select the USB drive you want to encrypt and click the Encrypt button.

Step 4: Enter the password you want to use to encrypt the USB drive in both fields, and then click Encrypt again. The tool will immediately start encrypting your USB drive without having you to use BitLocker.

Step 5: The final step is to wait for the encryption to be finished while keeping the USB drive connected. The encryption process takes several minutes, depending on the used space of the USB drive. When the software page displays the Encrypted Successfully message, you’re done. Then, you can either click Back to return to the software’s main page or simply close the app.

What happens if I encrypt my USB drive?

Once the USB drive is encrypted by iSunshare SafeUSB Genius, it is locked by default. In this case, you can still open the USB drive, but it is empty and you can’t see any files. This is because iSunshare SafeUSB Genius encrypts only used space on the USB drive. The tool puts all existing files on the USB drive into an encrypted, hidden directory that the user cannot access directly. So what you can still open and use is actually the unencrypted space on the USB drive.

To access the files on the encrypted USB drive, you need to open the iSunshare SafeUSB Genius, click the Unlock button, and then enter the correct password to unlock the USB drive. The encrypted USB drive is automatically locked every time it is disconnected from the computer. So, you need to unlock it every time you connect it to the computer.

Once the encrypted USB drive is unlocked, the encrypted, hidden directory on it becomes visible and is mounted to a new drive, as shown in the figure below. You can then access and manipulate the data on the new drive. When you add files to the new drive, they are automatically encrypted. And, if you move the files from the new drive to the original USB drive, they will be decrypted automatically. 

Method 2: Encrypt USB drive without BitLocker using VeraCrypt

VeraCrypt, an open-source disk encryption tool, is another way to encrypt a USB drive without BitLocker on Windows 10.

Step 1: Make sure that the USB drive you wish to encrypt is inserted into your computer.

Step 2: Back up all files on the USB drive to another location, because VeraCrypt will format the USB drive before encrypting it.

Step 3: Start VeraCrypt on your Windows 10, and then click the Create Volume button to begin.

Step 4: Choose “Encrypt a non-system partition/drive” and click Next.

Step 5: Choose “Standard VeraCrypt volume” and click Next.

Step 6: Click Select Device. In the dialog box that pops up, select the USB drive that you want to encrypt and click OK. Then, click Next.

Step 7: Choose “Create encrypted volume and format it” and click Next.

Step 8: On the Encryption Options page, simply click Next.

Step 9: On the Volume Size page, ensure that the size of the selected USB drive is correct and click Next.

Step 10: Type a password you want to use to encrypt your USB drive in both fields, and click Next.

Step 11: Move your mouse as randomly as possible within this window until the progress bar fills up, and then click Format.

Step 12: Follow the few steps left on the page, and the software will format and encrypt the USB drive. Encryption can take some time, depending on the total capacity of the USB drive. When the encryption is complete, you can move the files back to the USB drive.

Conclusion:

Both iSunshare SafeUSB Genius and VeraCrypt can help you encrypt a USB drive on Windows 10 without BitLocker. Both methods are secure. In comparison, iSunshare SafeUSB Genius is simpler to use, whereas VeraCrypt is more difficult to grasp, particularly for computer novices. Just choose what works best for you.