Encrypt Files on Your SD Card Using Your Android Phone

Edited by Clifford, Charmed, Lynn, Lhynne27 and 21 others

Android devices come with a whole bunch of security options, the most obvious being the option to set a password or visual pattern lock to stop others from accessing the device. But what if you need another layer of security for sensitive files? Consider encrypting files on your SD card for added peace of mind.

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A potential downside to file encryption is that it forces you to enter a password every time you want to access the encrypted file. However, in special cases where vital personal data is stored on the SD card, it could be a great extra layer of protection for your files. Here's how to set it up.

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Contents

Enable A Password On Your Phone

  1. 1
    If you don't secure your phone with a password, you will find that the Encrypt SD card menu does not enable you to select any files to encrypt.
    To be able to select any file on your SD card, you need to add a memorable six-character password to your device.
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  2. 2
    Tap on the "Settings" icon on your Android phone.
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  3. 3
    Then tap on "Security".
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  4. 4
    Tap on the "Set Up Screen Lock" tab and select the password option from the list.
    Next, enter a secure password that you will be able to remember. Once you are done with setting up your password, it will go back to the "Security" menu. You'll notice the "Change screen lock" option has appeared on the list. It means that a password has now been set up on your phone.
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Encrypt Your SD card

  1. 1
    Tap on the "Settings" icon on your Android phone.
    Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 10.59.12 AM.png
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  2. 2
    Then tap on "Security".
    Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 11.00.11 AM.png
    This menu includes a wide range of setting and toggles that you can alter to change current and add new security elements on your Android device.
    Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 10.18.36 AM.png
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  3. 3
    Tap on the "Security" button and then on "Encryption".
    Next, tap the "Encrypt external SD card" tab located at the top of this menu to begin the encryption process. You could also check out the encrypt device option, which outlines the process and results of encrypting your phone.
    Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 10.20.14 AM.png
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  4. 4
    Now you must set a password on the SD card.
    Insert the SD card into the phone and then follow the prompts that will allow you to set your SD card password. Your password must be a minimum of six characters long and include at least one letter. Confirm your password by adding it a second time. For your own safety, it's a good idea to write your password down. You should keep that written record in a secure location.
    Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 11.20.56 AM.png
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  5. 5
    After your new password has been set, go back to the external SD card menu.
    You should be able to select the types of files you want to encrypt on your SD card. If you choose to encrypt media files, expect that the encryption process could take a while, depending on the number of media files that you have on your phone.
    Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 11.22.17 AM.png
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  6. 6
    The phone should display a few pages of information, which will explain the encryption process to you.
    The encryption process will start after you have confirm that you have read through details (it's not a bad idea to actually read them).
    Encrypt-SD-Card.png
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  7. 7
    The encryption process could take from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the size of your SD card.
    You can check how the process is going by pulling down the notification area, which will show how long is remaining.
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  8. 8
    After the process is finished, your phone will take you back to your home screen.
    You'll also see in the "Notifications" area if the SD card is already encrypted.
    Encrypt-SD-Card-Samsung.png
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  9. 9
    Don't forget that every time you try to access the contents of your SD card, you need to enter the password that you have set up previously.
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Encryption, Explained.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to access or decrypt the files on your SD card without the right password. Android's encryption algorithm is based on two major factors - the mobile device and the password. Lose any of these, and your encrypted SD card files will be inaccessible. You can only decrypt the SD card files by inserting the SD card into the mobile device that was used to encrypt it and then entering the correct password when the device is powered on.

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The password or key is stored to your mobile device's Random Access Memory (RAM). Theoretically, every time you access a file from your encrypted SD card, Android goes through the RAM first to retrieve the key and use it to decrypt the file. This is the reason why dealing with encrypted data is relatively slower than finding unencrypted files.

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Why does it work this way? What does encryption mean anyway?

Encryption is essentially classified as a high level data storage security process. When you encrypt a file, you are altering its form using a specific algorithm so that the operating system will not be able to readily classify or identify it. With advancements in information security, the encryption algorithms being employed nowadays are basically "fool-proof". This means that there is no viable way of opening an encrypted file other than getting a hold of the key. Even hundreds of supercomputers could take thousands of years to open an encrypted file.

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Encryption is designed to work this way for one obvious reason: Security. This ensures that sensitive data will not be compromised should it fall into the hands of intruders. But the catch is, it could also work against you if you are not mindful.

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However, there are accounts of encrypted data storage media being decrypted by freezing. This process is fairly sophisticated and would require considerable expertise to carry out; yet it still does not guarantee successful decryption. This process basically involves the freezing of the device by any logical means possible in order to slow down the vanishing of data from the RAM after it is powered down.

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With the RAM data intact, a computer expert could copy the data to a file and use programs that could automatically analyze it. And because the encryption key is stored in the RAM as the mobile device was powered up, there is a good chance that the key can be retrieved using this process. However, for this to work two important conditions must be satisfied - the device is powered on and it was powered on using the correct encrypted password. This means that the freeze process can only be used if you have turned on your device using the correct password beforehand, but forgot the password later on with the device still powered on.

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The bottom line is that forgetting your encryption password means trouble. It is like locking yourself up in a prison you built. For this reason, you should consider all factors before encrypting your SD card. One good rule of thumb: If it is not that sensitive, stay off the encryption route, especially if you have bad memory.

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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • There is no limit to the files that you can encrypt in your SD card. However, it would take some time if you happen to encrypt several files at once.
  • Once your SD card is encrypted using your phone, you cannot use the files on the SD card on other phones unless you decrypt it first.
  • Performing a Factory Reset on your phone will make the encrypted file on your SD card unusable.

Questions and Answers

How do I get all my stuff on my SD card to my new phone?

I just got a new phone and I wanted all my pictures and stuff on to it, but for some reason when I put on my SD card it doesn't show up and how do I transfer all my contacts over to it

First you must put the SD card back into the old device to decrypt it. Afterwards, it's as simple as inputting your SD card into the new phone. All of your information and data will be there. You will not need to transfer your contacts to your SD card in order access them on the new device. All you will need to do on the new device is enter your Gmail account information into the next device to have backed up contacts transferred over to the new device.

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See more questions like this: How do I decrypt my SIM card after Factory Reset

How to I transfer music from my cellphone to the SD card?

I can't transfer music on my phone to the SD card in my phone

If you are transferring the movie from your computer, then you will need to ensure that, when you drag and click your music, you are releasing the music into the SD card folder rather than your internal memory of your device.

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Are the music files stored in your phone's internal memory? If yes, and you are using an Android Smartphone, you can easily move the files using a file manager app from the Play Store. Get something like Es File Explorer, seen here:

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https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop

Once installed, you can browse your phone's internal storage for the files and copy/cut/paste them to your external SD card.

What if you have secured your phone with a password, and you still can't encrypt the SD card?

What if you have secured your phone with a password, and you still can't encrypt the SD card then what?

I have had this issue before because I had a pattern unlock rather than a password with 6 digits. Take your password off and then re-enter your password on your device, so that you will now have the option to encrypt your SD card on your device.

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You can try the option of unmounting the SD card from your device, then replacing to see if the option will present itself. This is the way I bypassed this error.

See more questions like this: Is there a way around not encrypting so you don't have to use your pin every few minutes

I have encrypted the SD card on Galaxy S4, but all the files are still visible even though I entered the password after restart. Why? Then what is does it mean encryption?

I have encrypted the SD card on Galaxy S4, but still all the files are visible even though I entered the password after restart. Why? Then what is does it mean encryption?

The encryption process means that no one will be able to take any of your information off your SD card without the password.The files may be visible, but people will not be able to open or copy the files without the password.

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See more questions like this: I can't read my files? its an Android HTC one

Samsung exhibit metro PCs how to encrypt it?

How do I encrypt it? It won't let me do it on my phone

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See more questions like this: How to get encrypted file found

What if you have secured your phone with a password, and you still can't encrypt the SD card then what?

I believe that you are referring to phone lock like password or pattern, since there is no other security that you can apply on the phone (aside from antivirus applications). If you have a security lock on your Android phone, you should be able to encrypt your SD card on your mobile phone. If you still can't encrypt the mobile phone, you can simply do a Factory Reset on the phone to reset everything on your phone.

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If in case that you cannot encrypt your SD card for any reason, you can simply download an application from your Google Play store to encrypt your files. You can download an application called Encryption Manager; this application works the same as using the direct feature to encrypt your phone's SD card files and any other stuff. Please note that this is not a free application. The Lite version of this app can only encrypt up to 5 files, and the full version is unlimited.

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If you want to know more about the app, go to this link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.giraone.encmanlite

See more questions like this: What does encrypting do for the SD card

I chose to get my work email on my phone?

So they said I have to have a key to get in my phone I'm OK with that but they called me and said they need to encrypt my SD card for security as well, is this OK or is this a way for them to monitor my entire phone and contents or is it still secure for just me to access on my phone

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VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

See more questions like this: How can I encrypt my SD card. so that no one can able to access my data by using my SD card

When I put my SD card in my phone it said SD card is blank or has unsupported filesystems. should I format the SD card or do the Encrypt external SD card?

My question is up top I put in the wrong spot

Are you able to read the SD card on your computer using a reader? If you can, back up whatever files you have and format the card again for the phone.

I would suggest formatting the card to FAT32 for better compatibility with your phone.

See more questions like this: Is there anyway possible to fix a "blank or unsupported file system" 16GB SDHC card

I cannot encrypt SD card using my Android version 4.1.2?

I want to encrypt SD card using my pin. my phone have security & screen lock on setting, after clicking data encryption I put check on memory card. but still SD card not encrypted.

This seems to be a problem with your SD card and not because of the Android version that you are using. Check whether the SD card that you are using is still in good condition or if it is corrupted.

See more questions like this: How can I encrypt SD card content on Samsung Galaxy S3

What if I'm using multiple sd cards and only want to encrypt one of them?

One SD card I keep personal info on and would like to encrypt it. The others I use for pictures and movies that I transfer back and forth with the home computer. Will the Galaxy Tab 3 know if the card requires a password or not? Also, how would I add files to the encrypted SD card from another source, like the home computer?

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Yes, your Galaxy Tab 3 will be able to detect which one is encrypted and it will demand the necessary security steps in order to be able to access it.

In order for you to be able to add files to the encrypted SD card, you would need to follow the security steps in order to enter it. Once you've done that and authorized the communication between the SD card and the computer, things will function as normal.

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See more questions like this: SD card not detecting and encrypted

Sure you can help me. I would appreciate it?

How to delete encrypted SD card files on Android?

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

How do I encrypt a Samsung S2 T989?

Okay my main problem is that my option for encrypting my phone is not active

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Why all my data are deleted when I set my storage settings in encryption?

I USE HTC EXPLORER A310e WHEN I ENCRYPT MY SD card IT IS FORMATTED I MEAN DELETED ALL DATA IN CARD ......WHY....? PLEASE TELL ME

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See more questions like this: I'm getting an error message when encrypting or decrypting my SD card

I have decrypted my SD card, but still I have to put in a password to open my mobile. I want to disable that without formatting?

  • Go to your Settings application.
  • Tap the Device tab.
  • Tap the Lock screen panel.
  • Tap Screen lock and select Swipe to return your phone to its original lock settings.

See more questions like this: Hi, I want to put a password onto my SD card

Get photos and videos off phone while Decrypt Storage without factory reset?

Last Friday 9/25/2015 when I got off work and opened my phone to make a phone call to my mom I got a message on my HTC M8 that my phone was in Decrypt Storage. I at the time didn't even know what that meant till I arrived home and let my husband see my phone. Called Verizon and they said nothing they can do but factory reset! I told them that's not an option because when we plugged the phone up to my husband computer, only some of the pictures are backed up and we just got married and want my photos! I can't believe that there is no other answers! I never had a lock on phone nor downloaded apps on my phone, I keep it basic and it really hurts that this is happening

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VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

See more questions like this: I have encrypted my device memory

My Samsung Galaxy S3 won't accept my encryption code?

My company asked me to download a new program in order that I could access my work emails on my personal phone. However, I needed to add an encryption code on it. Once the program was downloaded I was told to switch off the phone and switch it back on again. However the phone would not accept my encryption code. I have lots of photos on that I didn't realize had been saved to the device - is there anyway that I can prevent losing them please as I am being told that I have to reset to default settings? The phone is only giving me 10 tries to access then it will automatically default. Please could you help? Thanks

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VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

See more questions like this: My Galaxy A7 was formatted by Samsung service customer care?

I can add locked audio files to my device but when I get into the device they do not show up in my ringtone list like a lot of other ones do. I've tried .wav to .mp3 app and still won't show up on my Android?

How can I unlock those files so they will show up on my phone thus I can use them as ringtones. I have a Samsung Galaxy prevail lte Android.

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Why are you interested in my problem?

Why?? My question details are too short, of course.

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Categories : General Android Mobiles & Tablets

Recent edits by: reeeee, Juliem, sk akram ali

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