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I've had my USB for quite a while now. It contains quite a lot of personal information on it. (I know, I'm stupid for not encrypting it before hand). Is it too late to encrypt my drive even if files are on there already?

I heard somewhere that its best to encrypt the drive as soon as you purchase it and plug it in.

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    It is never too late. – kelalaka Apr 30 at 22:40
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Assuming this is a solid state USB stick and not an external USB hard drive, wear leveling, over-provisioning, and other traits of solid state media makes it difficult to securely overwrite existing data. While any new data written to the drive will be encrypted, it's likely that portions of your previous, unencrypted filesystem will remain on the device for some time. The only sure way to mitigate that problem is to buy and encrypt a new USB device and transfer data to it, then destroy your old one.

And remember, better late than never!

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    While your post is entirely accurate, it should be said: Better late then never. If buying a new flash drive is noy reasonable for the data, it is better to encrypt it now then leaving it unencrypted. – Peter Harmann Apr 30 at 23:04
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    I also am assuming that due to it being a USB Stick the OP just wants to encrypt his data in case he loses the stick, and some random finds it, rather than an actual attacker attempting to get access. – meowcat Apr 30 at 23:09
  • @PeterHarmann Good point! – forest Apr 30 at 23:12
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Is it too late to encrypt my drive even if files are on there already?

You can "turn on" Bitlocker To-Go to encrypt the files/folders already on the USB drive.

However, as the other post indicates, this may not remove all traces of the unencrypted data due to hardware specifics of memory controller/flash/etc, but it is better than nothing as an immediate course of action.

  • Sadly, I dont have the pro version of windows, so I dont have BitLocker. However, it's ok to use a program such as VeraCrypt right? – Leon185 May 2 at 0:05
  • I'm not sure if VeraCrypt will work for you. It may try to format/wipe the drive first rather than encrypting the files in place. You might want to test it out on a different USB stick you dont care about first to make sure you don't lose anything... – hft May 2 at 0:57
  • @hft I think VeraCrypt supports encryption in-place, doesn't it? – forest May 3 at 23:52

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