USB sticks are great for many reasons. They are small, can store a fair bit of data and the majority of devices accept them. However, the fact that they are so portable means that it isn’t uncommon for them to get misplaced. If you are just carrying around music, for example, then losing your USB stick probably wouldn’t be the end of the world. But, imagine if you had sensitive data stored, like financial information or customer details. If you lost this then the consequences could be vast. As such, it is always important that you protect your USB stick and the data stored on it.
There are a number of different methods you can use to go about protecting the data. The first and simplest is saving each file with a password. The Office programs, like Word or PowerPoint, allow you to save the files with a password. To do this in Office 2010, go to File, then Info, then Permissions. This is a quick method to protect your files when you are saving them to your USB stick. However, this has to be done for each individual file. If there are only a few documents that you want to password protect then it isn’t a hassle, but if you have a lot of data you may need to employ a different method.
Another option you could take is to encrypt and password protect all of the data on the USB stick using a program. When selecting a program it is important that you choose one that doesn’t need administrator rights to run. This is because you will not be able to access your data if you are trying to run the USB stick on a computer where you don’t have full permissions. One program that will work well is Rohos Mini Drive. It is a free tool (limited to a 2 GB encryption size) that creates a hidden and encrypted partition on the USB drive. Encryption is automatic and is AES 256 bit key length with NIST compliant standards. The program doesn’t need to install drivers on a system to run as it keeps them on the USB drive itself.
Another program you could use is something like USB Safeguard. This too doesn’t require administrator rights. You simply download the program to your USB stick, run it and set a password. You can download a free version that also works up to 2 GB, but the full version will work with up to 16 TB of data. You can get a trial of this too, meaning that you will be able to definitely know whether it’s worth your money first. If you are using USB Safeguard then always remember to lock your drive once you’re done with it. The program will remember the last state, so if you unlock it then it will stay that way until you change it.
These are some of the best ways to protect your USB stick. They are simple, inexpensive and will ensure that your data is well protected and secure.