How to Password Protect External Hard Drives on Windows and Mac

I don’t have to tell you how crucial it is to protect your external hard discs. It’s likely that you use an external hard drive if you regularly backup your main computer, which you should do if you aren’t doing. No matter how well-protected your computer is, someone might just take your external hard drive and access your data. There are a tonne of files on your hard drive even if you don’t make copies of them that you might want to keep hidden from curious eyes. Since anyone with the right equipment may access a hard disc, it is always advisable to encrypt your own to keep it safe. A password is always needed to access the files on an encrypted hard disc. So, if you haven’t already password-protected your external hard discs on Mac or Windows, follow these steps:

Password Protecting External Hard Drive on Mac

You can encrypt your external hard discs on a Mac using one of two techniques. Both techniques are incorporated into macOS. You can accomplish that without using any additional software. Create a secure password that you can use to decrypt your hard drive after it has been encrypted, but first, before we get started.

Note: I tested these techniques on my MacBook Pro running macOS High Sierra, but they ought to function equally well on macOS Sierra and earlier releases.

Method 1: Using Finder

1. Locate your external drive on the Finder window by opening it.

2. Next, choose Encrypt (drive name) from the drop-down menu by performing a right click (control + click) on the disc icon.

3. You will be prompted to provide a strong password and a clue in a dialogue window that will appear. Enter your already created password and note a clue. If you believe you can remember the password without the clue, type anything (creating the hint is required), even if it’s just to confuse other people.

4. Background encryption has now been applied to your hard disc. It can take a long time depending on the size of the files inside. It is better to leave a large hard disc running overnight.

Method 2: Using the Disk Utility Tool

The Disk Utility Tool lets you encrypt your external hard disc. The procedure will destroy all of your data before encrypting the hard disc, so keep that in mind. Therefore, it can only be used with a fresh hard drive. Disk Utility Tool is primarily used when only a portion of the drive has to be encrypted. You can partition your hard drive using the Disk Utility Tool, and then you can encrypt the partition you want to protect.

1. Launch the Disk Utility Tool by typing its name into Spotlight or by selecting it from the Finder’s Applications or Utilities menus.

Then click the Erase button after selecting your external drive from the options on the left. Keep in mind that utilising this technique will erase any data that may be present on the drive.

3. Name the drive, and then select the Format menu item. As illustrated in the figure below, choose the Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) option from the drop-down menu.

4. As you did previously, choose a strong password and, if desired, enter any clue. Then, select Choose to format and encrypt your drive.

5. Your drive will be encrypted once the procedure is complete. It’ll be listed beneath the description. For further information, see the image.

Password Protect External Hard Drive on Windows

Any of the aforementioned techniques will allow you to encrypt your Mac external hard disc. Now, whenever you connect your hard drive to any machine, a password entry prompt will appear before you can access the drive’s information.

Method 1: Using the inbuilt tool in Windows Pro/Enterprise Edition

Windows has a built-in disc encryption programme called BitLocker Drive Encryption, much like Mac does. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that only Windows Pro and Enterprise versions provide this feature. If you wish to encrypt your external hard drive using the home edition of Windows, you will need to utilise third-party software. Therefore, we will begin by utilising Windows Pro to lock your external disc.

1. Navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > BitLocker Drive Encryption to access the menu.

2. All discs have BitLocker disabled by default. Select the drive and click Turn on BitLocker to encrypt it.

3. Put a checkmark by the

Enter a strong password to unlock the drive option using a password. Select Next.

4. You need to keep a backup of your recovery key right now. In the event that you forget your password, you will need it. Choose the alternative that you want. I choose the option to save to a file.

Method 2: Using A Third Party Software

5. The final step is to click the Start encrypting button to begin the encryption process.

  1. Download and install the software by clicking on this link. After you have installed it open the program and then insert your hard drive. Now click on Create Volume and select the middle option (Encrypt a non-system partition/drive) from the pop up window which opens and then click on next.

All that’s left to do is wait until your drive is completely encrypted. The size of your external disc and the files on it will affect how long the encryption process takes.

You can use any of the several third-party encryption programmes that are available. You may read all about the finest encryption programmes for Windows that we have already discussed here. VeraCrypt, which is among the best on the market and is also completely free, will be used for the purposes of this tutorial.

2. Click Next after selecting Standard VeraCrypt volume.

3. Click on “Select Device” on the following page, then repeat the process on the pop-up menu. Don’t select the disc name; instead, choose the partition choice that appears underneath it.

  1. To decrypt your drive open the software and select any of the drive from the menu then click on Select Device option. Select your drive as did in the 3rd step of the encrypting process.

4. On the following page, the first choice will save the data instead of deleting it before encrypting the device.

Choose the desired option. After that, simply keep pressing next while according to the on-screen instructions to encrypt your device.

Encrypt External Drives To Save Personal Data

Do not forget that only the VeraCrypt software may access your files once your drive has been encrypted. On the device from which you want to access your external discs, the software must be installed. Additionally, the decrypting procedure differs slightly.