Tuesday, 12 June 2012

How do I password protect my files and folders in Windows?

Before password protecting any document you may wish to create a backup of the non-password protected folder and files in case you forget the password in the future.
The majority of Microsoft Windows operating systems do not come with a method of password protecting your sensitive files and folders. If you're using Microsoft Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows 98, you will need to download or purchase a third-party program to password protect your files and folders in Windows; skip down to the other security solutions section if you're using one of these operating systems.

Microsoft Windows XP professional users
        The below steps for encrypting the files on Windows XP professional applies to users who are using a computer that has different accounts. If you're using a single account for all users who use the computer you will need to see the below other security solutions section.
  1. Select the folder you wish to encrypt.
  2. Right-click the folder and click Properties.
  3. Click the Advanced button.
  4. Check "Encrypt contents to secure data" option.
  5. Click Apply and then Ok.
Encrypt contents to secure data is grayed out
This will be grayed out if you're using the home edition of Microsoft Windows XP. See the below steps for securing the contents of your folders in Windows XP home.
Show "Encrypt" on the context menu
The newest version of TweakUI also enables you to show the Encrypt option in the context menu. To do this, follow the below steps.
  1. Open TweakUI.
  2. In the TweakUI window, select Explorer
  3. In the right side of the window under Settings, locate Show 'Encrypt' on context menu and check the box. This option should be below Prefix 'shortcut to' on new shortcuts and above Show 'View workgroup computers' in NetPlaces.
Microsoft Windows XP home users
  1. Select the folder you wish to encrypt.
  2. Right-click the folder and click Properties.
  3. Click the Sharing tab.
  4. Check the box Make this folder private
  5. Click Apply and then Ok.
Make this folder private is grayed out
In order for this option to work in Microsoft Windows XP home you must meet the below requirements.
  1. The hard drive must be formatted in NTFS and not FAT32 File System.
  2. The folder you're attempting to encrypt must be in your own personal folder. For example, if your name is bob, you must be encrypting a folder that is or that is contained within the below folder:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Bob\

    You cannot encrypt any folders outside of this folder. If you wish to encrypt outside this folder see the below other security solutions.
Other security solutions for protecting your files and folders in Windows
File and folders not frequently used
If you need to password protect files or folders that you do not frequently use, one of the simplest ways is to compress the folder and files with a compression utility and password protect the compressed file. However, each time you wish to work or modify the files you will need to uncompress the files using the password.
Windows ME and Windows XP users - Microsoft Windows ME and Windows XP come with their own compression utility. This utility can also be used to compress and password protect files.
Tip: When a file is compressed, users can still view a listing of the files in the compressed file. If you wish for both your file names and the contents to be hidden, move all the files into a single folder and password protect that folder.  
File and folders frequently used or accessed
If you need to password protect or encrypt data you frequently use, you will need to install a third-party program that will enable you to protect your files and folders. Below are some free and commercial solutions.
  • AxCrypt - An excellent free encryption utility that enables users to encrypt all files within a folder and not allow those files to be viewed unless a passphrase (password) is known.
  • WinCry - A freeware utility that enables your files to be encrypted, secure deletion, as well as other helpful methods of protecting your files.
  • Folder Guard - A commercial version of a password protection software that enables you to password protect files, folders, and other Windows resources. 

1 comment:

  1. Does this work only in XP and ME? Or can you still do this on the more recent Windows platforms like Vista, 7 & 8? As for the 3rd party encryption programs, Folder Guard seems to be updated for the more recent versions, and so is AxCrypt, which actually offers a 64-bit version. WinCry, however, seems to have discontinued its services.

    Nannie Salyards


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