How to Encrypt Your Own Windows and Mac Devices (and Why You Need It)

Data encryption makes it nearly impossible to access a protected file without a proper decryption key or password. Many apps use encryption to protect your data, including password managers , VPNs, and even some messaging apps, but you have to encrypt more than just the data you share online.

We all store important files and information on our computers and USB hard drives, and if that data is not properly secured, it’s an easy target for spies, thieves, and even hackers.

Fortunately, there are several ways to quickly encrypt your Mac or Windows devices, so we’ll cover every option available for both platforms so you can add an extra layer of security to every file, folder, and application stored on your computers. and hard drives.

Mac

Mac computers include a built-in FileVault encryption tool available to all Mac users. You can use it to encrypt the Mac itself or add password protection to external USB drives.

How to encrypt your Mac

  1. Click the Apple icon, then go to System Preferences> Security & Privacy> FileVault.
  2. Press the lock button.
  3. Select Enable FileVault.
  4. Configure an additional recovery method when prompted. This will help you access your encrypted files if you forget your password.
  5. Click Continue. The encryption process will run in the background.

How to encrypt external USB drives on Mac

  1. Connect your USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Finder and right-click the name of your USB drive in the left menu.
  3. Select an encryption method.
  4. Enter the password you want to use to protect the drive, then start the encryption process.

Window

Windows PCs are a little more difficult to encrypt. Although Microsoft offers encryption tools like Device Encryption and BitLocker on most versions of Windows, they are only available to corporate users. None of the options are available to Windows Home users, who probably make up the majority of regular Windows users.

We’ll go over how to use Device Encryption and BitLocker for Windows enterprise users, but Windows Home users will want to skip to learn about third-party options.

How to encrypt a Windows computer using device encryption or BitLocker

  1. Make sure you are logged into the computer administrator account.
  2. Open the Start menu and click the Settings icon.
  3. In the settings menu, select Update & security> Device encryption .
  4. Select Enable.

Not all PCs are equipped with the necessary hardware to enable device encryption. However, Windows Enterprise users can also encrypt drives using Windows BitLocker.

  1. In the search bar on the taskbar, search for and open Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, select System and Security> BitLocker Drive Encryption> Manage BitLocker.
  3. Select Turn on BitLocker.
  4. Follow the instructions on the screen to set everything up.
  5. To encrypt a drive on your PC, select it from the list of devices in the Manage BitLocker window, then click Enable and follow the instructions on the screen.

BitLocker can also encrypt external USB drives:

  1. Connect your USB drive to your computer.
  2. Open Control Panel and go to System and Security> BitLocker Drive Encryption> Manage BitLocker.
  3. Select your USB storage device from the list of devices.
  4. Select Turn on BitLocker.
  5. Follow the instructions on the screen.

How to encrypt PCs and USB drives in Windows Home Edition

Since Device Encryption and BitLocker are not available in Windows Home editions, most Windows users will need a third-party encryption application to protect their PCs and local hard drives. There are many reliable options out there such as AxCrypt, Folder Lock, and NordCrypt, but most will cost you money – usually around $ 30-50 per year, depending on product specs.

The fees for this encryption are well worth it, however, and most programs include bonuses like password ratings, two-factor authentication, and more.

Many of these programs also allow you to encrypt external USB drives. Some hard drive manufacturers, such as Seagate, also include their own encryption methods for their storage devices. The exact steps will be different for different applications, but the general process will be the same:

  1. Make a backup copy of the disk files (as you will have to erase and reformat the disk).
  2. Use encryption software to format and encrypt the drive.
  3. Transfer the files back to the encrypted drive.

No matter which method you use, remember to store passwords (or other decryption methods) securely so you can always get back to locked files, folders, and drives .

[ Mashable ]

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