How to Encrypt Data on External Hard Drives (Windows 11 & Mac)

6 May 2022 | Jetico Technical Support

Why should you encrypt data on external hard drives? Removable drives are practical tools for businesses everywhere. Thanks to their storage capacity and small size, they are a great way to transfer or view documents from one computer to another. Yet external drives and USB sticks are also easy to lose and, if not encrypted, sensitive information can easily be accessed by unauthorized people.

How to encrypt external hard drives? Generally speaking, there are 2 methods:

  • Encryption of selected files and/or folders
    This is the ideal choice if you need to access files from many different computers or when sharing is required. Review step-by-step instructions
  • Encrypt the entire removable drive
    This method is preferred when using a USB stick on the same few computers (i.e., home and office computers).

Encrypting selected files/folders can be convenient but has some risks. By encrypting a portion of the drive, chances are that a sensitive file could end up in the wrong location. For complete peace of mind, we’ll now show you 5 easy steps on how to encrypt the entire external hard drive on Windows 11 with BestCrypt Volume Encryption.

Skip here for instructions on how to encrypt external hard drives on Mac.

How to Encrypt External Hard Drives on Windows 11

Step 1: Run the Software as Administrator

If you didn’t install the software yet, do it now. Once BestCrypt is installed, select 'Run as administrator'…

  • Go to Start menu and click on 'All apps >'
  • Open the BestCrypt Volume Encryption program folder
  • Right-click on 'BestCrypt Volume Encryption'
  • Select 'More', then 'Run as administrator'
A screenshot of BestCrypt Volume Encryption Start menu
  • Click 'OK' when asked for elevation

BestCrypt also resides in the system tray (bottom right corner).

  • Click the BestCrypt icon
  • Select 'BestCrypt Volume Encryption (as Administrator)'
A screenshot showing how to start BestCrypt Volume Encryption

Step 2: Removable Drive Selection

To get working quickly and activate your encryption in just a few clicks, use the 'Simple Interface'. When you install BestCrypt, you can select 'Simple Interface' as the default mode. If the program ever opens in 'Advanced Mode', click the 'Application' menu item and select 'Switch to simple mode'.

A screenshot showing how to switch to simple interface in BestCrypt Volume Encryption
  • Plug in the removable drive you want to encrypt
  • Select your removable drive shown in BestCrypt
  • Click 'Encrypt'
A screenshot showing how to encrypt removable drive in BCVE

Step 3: Create Encryption Password

It’s time to create a password for your external hard drive. Every time you access your encrypted volume, this password will be requested. Be sure you don’t forget it! What makes a strong and memorable password? We offer tips here.

  • Select an encryption algorithm from the dropdown menu - by default BestCrypt uses AES
  • Choose and enter a password (min 8 characters) - as you are entering your password, BestCrypt will indicate its strength
  • Confirm your password
  • Click 'Encrypt'
A screenshot of encrypt password creation in BCVE

Step 4: Encryption Process

Now you can sit back and enjoy the show!

Once the encryption process begins, you will see a progress status window showing remaining time and percentage completed. At any time, you can click 'Stop' and continue again later.

A screenshot showing encryption status in BCVE

When completed, you will see this prompt: 'The encryption process has finished successfully.'

A screenshot of successful encryption in BCVE

If you see anything other than the success message, please contact Jetico Technical Support.

Step 5: Save rescue file

Upon completion of the encryption process (unless stopped in the middle), BestCrypt Volume Encryption will automatically save the rescue file to provide you with access to your sensitive data in case of an emergency.

  • By default, the rescue.rsc file is stored in the BestCrypt installation folder: C:\Program Files (x86)\Jetico\BestCrypt Volume Encryption\Rescue. Make sure to store a copy of this file in a safe place to ensure you have access to the recovery data even if your PC won’t turn on.
  • Don’t worry, the recovery information in the rescue file is still protected with your encryption password.

How to Encrypt External Hard Drives on Mac

Step 1: Launch the Application

If you didn’t install the software yet, download BestCrypt now for free. Once BestCrypt is installed…

  • Click the 'Launchpad' icon from the toolbar
How to Encrypt External Hard Drives - Mac, launchpad screenshot
  •  Open 'BestCrypt Volume Encryption' by clicking the icon
How to Encrypt External Hard Drives - Mac, BCVE Mac icon screenshot

Step 2: Removable Drive Selection

  • Plug in the removable drive you want to encrypt
  • Select your removable drive shown in BestCrypt
  • Click 'Encrypt'
Screenshot of encrypt removable drive BCVE Mac

Step 3: Create Encryption Password

It’s time to create a password for your external hard drive. Every time you access your encrypted volume, this password will be requested. Be sure you don’t forget it! What makes a strong and memorable password? We offer tips here.

  • Select an encryption algorithm from the dropdown menu - by default BestCrypt uses AES
  • Choose and enter a password (min 8 characters)
  • Confirm your password
  • Click 'OK'
How to Encrypt External Hard Drives - Mac, Enter New Password screenshot

Step 4: Encryption Process

Now you can sit back and enjoy the show!

Once the encryption process begins, you will see a progress status window showing remaining time and percent completed. At any time, you can click 'Stop' and continue again later.

Screenshot of encryption process BestCrypt Volume Mac

Step 5: Unmount Volume

Upon completion of the encryption process, before ejecting the external drive, it is recommended to unmount the volume by clicking 'Unmount'.

How to Encrypt External Hard Drives - Mac, Unmount Volume screenshot

A soon as you unmount the volume, your encryption password will be required to access the data.

Happy Encrypting!

Related Articles

How to Encrypt Your Computer
How to Encrypt Files on Windows 11
How to Take Back Your Privacy in the Cloud with File Encryption Software

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