How to encrypt an Android device and its SD card

Is it worth it to encrypt or encrypt the SD card of our Android? We manage more and more sensitive data from our smartphone. We carry out banking transactions, make purchases over the Internet and store personal data on our mobile device in a more than usual way.

In case of theft or loss This can become an information bomb that can explode in all our faces if we do not take the appropriate measures. To avoid this type of situation, encrypting the external memory of the terminal is undoubtedly the best way out.

How to encrypt an SD card on Android: what we must take into account

In today's post we will see how we can encrypt or encrypt an Android device and a micro SD card to keep our data safe. That is, if we want our personal or work information to be as protected as possible, it is best to encrypt both memories, both internal and external. But let's go by parts ...

What is data encryption for?

Keep in mind that even if we activate the screen lock by password, pattern or fingerprint, it is still possible to access the terminal data through a PC. And if we have a micro SD card, it is even easier: we only have to extract the memory to do what we want with the information it contains. The solution is to encrypt both the terminal and the SD card. If we encrypt a device, The data it contains can only be accessed if we know the unlock PIN.

Is it advisable to carry out the encryption or encryption process?

At first, this may seem like a host of advantages that only a madman would avoid overlooking. But make no mistake, the encryption process also has its drawbacks:

  • Once the terminal is encrypted there is no going back, can not be deciphered. Encryption can only be disabled by resetting the phone to factory settings.
  • Lower phone performance. In the most powerful smartphones this drop in performance is barely perceptible, but if we have a phone with a few years it is possible that we notice a certain slowdown.

That is, if we are going to encrypt the smartphone we have to be very convinced of what we are doing. We must have at least a mid-range phone so that the system does not slow down.

In any case, a good alternative is usually encrypt only the SD card. This way we avoid the possible loss of performance. Of course, we have to make sure that all the important data of the phone is stored in the SD.

How to encrypt an SD card and Android phone, explained step by step

Phones and tablets with Android 6.0 and higher already have encryption enabled as standard, but if the terminal has been updated from a previous version, it is necessary to activate the encryption. Keep that in mind!

A couple of things before we start:

  • Make sure your battery is full. The encryption process is long and can take more than an hour. If you run out of battery you can lose your data.
  • Set a lock screen PIN or password. It is an essential requirement, otherwise the system will not allow you to encrypt the phone. You can set the PIN from Settings> Lock screen> Screen lock> PIN. On some devices the lock screen option may be within Security.

Steps to encrypt device data

Let's get into trouble. The steps to activate the encryption or encryption of the Android terminal itself are really simple. The only thing we have to take into account is the Android version of our terminal.

Android 5.0 or higher

For phone or tablets with Android 5.0 or higher, just access the security section of the system settings:

  • Go to Settings> Security> Encrypt (or encrypt) phone and click on Encrypt phone.

Remember that it is a process that lasts about an hour and that you will be a long time without being able to use the device. The duration will also depend on the volume of data that we have stored.

During the process, the system will ask us to enter a security PIN. Write it down somewhere or record it by fire in the brain, since it will be the code that we will have to use from now on whenever we turn on or unlock the terminal.

Android 4.4 or lower

The only big difference if we have a slightly older version of Android is that we have to set the PIN before starting the whole process. The advantage - or disadvantage, it depends on how you look at it - is that we can also use an unlock pattern, in addition to the numeric PIN.

The PIN or pattern can be established from «Settings -> Security -> Lock screen«. Once this step is completed, we will «Settings -> Security»And click on«Encrypt phone«.

Steps to encrypt the micro SD card

If we only want to encrypt the micro SD card, we just have to follow the following steps:

  • Go to Settings> Security and click on Encrypt (or encrypt) the external memory card.

Before encrypting your data, Android will ask you if you want to exclude media files from encryption. Remember anyway that if you only use the SD card to save songs, videos and movies, it may not be necessary to carry out this process at all.

Once the SD encryption is done, Card data can only be accessed from the same terminal, and if we connect the SD to the computer or another phone the data will be inaccessible.

Encrypt the data of a micro SD in Android 6.0 and higher

If you have a phone with Android 7.0 or higher you will see that in the security settings there is no option to «Encrypt micro SD memory«. In these cases, for the SD data to be encrypted we only have to set the card as internal memory.

This is so because the phone is already encrypted as standard. By adding the micro SD as part of the internal memory, the data it contains will be automatically encrypted and They can only be read from that same mobile phone.

  • We open the menu of "Settings » of the system and we enter «Storage".
  • We scroll to "Portable storage”And click on the micro SD card.
  • Next, we click on the drop-down located in the upper left margin of the screen and select "Storage settings”.

  • This will take us to a new menu where we will choose "Format as internal”. Thus, Android will format the SD and use it as an internal storage unit.
  • Finally, we will see a warning message that we will accept by clicking on «Format SD card ». Eye! Remember to make a previous backup if you do not want to lose all the files stored in the SD. Also, once formatted, this SD card will only work on this device. Important to take it into account!
  • The formatting process can take several minutes, depending on the size and data stored on the micro SD.

After this, if what we want is that the SD card can also be read on other devices, we will have to format it. Once that is done, when configuring it for the first time we will indicate that it is an external memory. In this way, we can remove the SD and connect it to a PC or access its data by inserting it into another device.

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