Instructions on how to set a password for the hard drive

Setting a password for your hard drive is essential to help protect your personal information. Your phone and computer are most likely secured with a PIN, password, or biometric authentication. You should also protect your storage device, especially if it contains confidential or private files. That way, you can prevent unauthorized access even if your drive is lost or stolen.

All you need to do to protect your hard drive is your personal computer or laptop. Windows and Mac have built-in encryption tools that allow you to set passwords on your storage devices. Continue watching the sections below to learn how to set a password for an external hard drive on your computer.

Set a password for your hard drive using BitLocker for encryption

Encrypting an external storage device on a Windows 10 computer requires you to manually select an encryption method, an encryption mode, back up your recovery key, and create a perfect and secure password. You have to do a lot of steps but it is very easy. ThuthuatIT will guide you through the entire process of setting a password for your hard drive from start to finish.

First, you need to enable BitLocker – Windows’ built-in encryption tool on your computer. Plug the hard drive into your PC and follow the steps below.

Note: The drive cannot be encrypted on a PC running Windows 10 Home edition because the operating system does not support BitLocker. Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, or Education to use BitLocker.

Launch File Explorer, right-click the external drive, and select Turn on BitLocker.

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Do not unplug or remove the drive from your PC while Windows starts the BitLocker encryption window.

see more Instructions for setting static IP for computers

Create a password for the hard drive

Check the box that says “Use a password to unlock the drive” and enter your desired password. Re-enter the password in the dialog box provided and select next to continue.

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Your password must meet the criteria listed below, or you will receive an error message:

  • Must contain at least 8 characters.
  • There must be at least one capital letter.
  • Must have at least one lowercase letter.
  • Must contain at least one number, symbol or space.

Save recovery key

Windows will automatically generate a recovery key for the external drive. The recovery key is a backup key to unlock your encrypted drive if you forget your password.

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Option “Print the recovery key” will launch a new window where you can print the recovery key on paper. If you choose the option“Save to a file, Windows will encrypt the recovery key in the text file. Save the file to your preferred folder/location on your PC and select Save.

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When you get a success message saying “Your recovery key has been saved” or “Your recovery key has been printed” Please choose next to continue.

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Select encryption method

BitLocker has two encryption methods: Used Disk Space Encryption – Used Disk Space Encryption and Full Disk Encryption – Full Disk Encryption.

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Choose “Encrypt used disk space only” if your external drive is new and has never been used on another computer. BitLocker will encrypt an area on the drive so that new data copied to the drive in the future is automatically encrypted. However, if you encrypt a previously used drive (even if it’s empty) using this method, someone could gain access to the deleted or moved data.

That’s because the BitLocker encryption tool doesn’t recognize deleted data sectors as used disk space. Therefore, it will not encrypt such sections.

If you want to set a password on the external drive that is already in use, select Encrypt entire drive. That will prompt BitLocker to encrypt all components and data on the drive – even files you deleted.

Note that Used Disk Space encryption is usually faster; take seconds or minutes, depending on the amount of data on the drive. On the other hand, Full Disk Encryption can run for hours before completing.

Select encryption mode

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Select New encryption mode if you will only be using the external drive on your computer or on devices running Windows 10 (version 1511 or later).

If you’re not sure or you think you might need to access the drive on devices running earlier versions of Windows, select Compatible mode and continue.

Start coding

BitLocker will start encrypting the drive when you select the . button Start encrypting.

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As mentioned earlier, the encryption operation can last several minutes or several hours, depending on the size of the drive and the data it contains.

Do not remove the drive from your PC without pausing encryption. Doing so may damage the drive. If you urgently need to use the drive during encryption, select Pause and unplug it.

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Note that your files and the drive are not protected until the encryption is complete. Wait until you receive the success message “Encryption complete” like the one below.

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When you eject the encrypted drive on your PC or try to access it on another PC, a BitLocker window prompting you to enter the drive’s password appears on the screen.

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Handling the case when you forget to encrypt the password

Strong passwords are quite secure, but are often easily forgotten. If you can’t remember the password of your encrypted drive, you can still access a lot of the contents. We will show you how to use it on Windows and macOS.

Use recovery key

Remember the recovery key you printed or saved to your PC while encrypting the drive? That’s all you need to access the drive if you forget your encryption password.

Go to the location where you saved the recovery file, double-click the text file to access its contents, and copy the numbers in the Recovery Key section.

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Plug the drive into your PC and wait for the BitLocker password entry window to appear on the screen. Choose More options and choose Enter recovery.

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Finally, paste the recovery key into the dialog box and select Unlock. If you already printed the recovery key, retrieve the printout, enter the recovery key and select Unlock.

You can now access the drive in File Explorer. If you still cannot remember your password, you will have to create a new one. Right-click the drive and select Manage BitLocker.

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Find the external drive under “Removable data drives” and select Turn off BitLocker.

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Then encrypt the drive from scratch and use the new password.

So you know how to use BitLocker to set a password for your hard drive, hope this article gives you a lot of useful knowledge, good luck!


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