How to Password Protect Files and Folders in Windows PC using Encryption

You might need to add an additional layer of security to your files and folders which contain sensitive data. This will help you to keep your data secure from being compromised by any unauthorized persons with malicious intend. When you password protect files and folders, you can share them safely over network to the persons whom you want them to access.

password protected files and folders

When you encrypt files and folders and anyone who wants to decrypt them will need decryption key (password). Nobody will be able to open encrypted files and folders.

There are various ways to password protect files with different formats and folder which contains number of confidential files & sub-folders. In this blog post, we are going to discuss some of the convenient methods for protecting files and folders.

Warning: Do keep in mind, if you forget the password of any file, you will not able to access it, so you have to keep your password . As it is not possible to remember the password of every file, you are advised to write down the name of documents along with their passwords and keep it in a safe place. It would be best to keep the backup also.

To Password Protect MS Office Files

Microsoft has provided an AES encryption facility in Office 2007 and higher version. This feature secures your Office files with the passwords. Although the encryption facility was also available in earlier versions of MS Office, yet the encryption scheme was very weak and the protected files could be decrypted with password cracking software. In the latest versions of MS Office, Microsoft has deployed strong encryption scheme to protect MS Office files.

If you are running MS Office 2010 or higher version, follow the below given guide to password protect files of Word, Excel and Power Point.

Open the File menu and click on Protect Document/Protect Workbook/Protect Presentation button.

Select “Encrypt with Password” from the list of options. Now a pop-up window named “Encrypt Document” will appear which will ask you to set the password followed by confirming it.

That’s it. You can secure your confidential files in this way. Now whenever the protected file will be opened, it will ask for password to decrypt it.

To Password Protect PDF files

You can password protect PDF files either by using latest version of MS Office or by using Adobe Acrobat. There are some of the programs available in market which provide the facility to secure PDF files with passwords. We recommend you to use Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat for this purpose.

As both the programs are paid, you can install trial version to check the performance and after satisfaction, you can buy the full version of desired program.

To Password Protect PDF files using Adobe Acrobat

Get Adobe Acrobat from its Official website. Click on Get started button. You will have to create an account using Sign up link. Fill your details on sign up window and then you will be able to download trial version of Adobe Acrobat.

After installation, launch it. Now click on File menu and select Open. Do keep in mind you need to sign-in with your Acrobat account. After that browse the PDF file which you want to protect with password and hit Open button.

Open Properties of file under File menu.

Select the Security tab on the next window. Open the drop down menu of Security Method and select Password Security option from the list.

On the next window, you will need to check mark “Require a password to open the document” and then type the password in the text box.

Hit OK button and you will be asked to confirm the password on the next pop-up window. Confirm it by re-typing password and press OK.

To Create Password Protected PDF files using MS Office

If you are using Microsoft Office, you can create password protected PDF files using MS Word. This guide can also be used on Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.

Launch MS Word/Excel/PowerPoint. Open the file which you want to convert into PDF and protect with password. Click on File menu, select Export option and click on “Create PDF/XPS” button to export the document to PDF file.

Click Options button on the next window.

Enable “Encrypt the document with a password” option appearing on the bottom area of window and hit OK button.

You will be asked to fill the password to Encrypt PDF document.  After typing password hit OK button.

That’s it. Now whenever the protected PDF file will be opened it will ask to enter the password.

To Password Protect Files and Folders by Creating Encrypted Archive

To create encrypted archive you need to have file compression program. You can use any of reliable compression programs available in market. We recommend you to use 7-Zip App which is available absolutely free. You can directly download 7-Zip from below given links.

Direct Download 7-Zip Compression Program (32-bit)

Direct Download 7-Zip Compression Program (64-bit)

Install it by following on screen instructions.

Now right click on the file or folder which you want to password protect, select 7-Zip and then click on Add to archive.

create encrypted archive using 7-zip

On the next window, you can see a number of options. Change the Archive format to zip.
Then on the right side of window, there will be Encryption section. Just go to there and enter the password to encrypt the archive. Now hit OK button.

create encrypted archive to password protect files

Note: The encryption method should be AES-256.

Your encrypted archive is ready.

To Password Protect Files and Folders using EFS (Encryption File System)

If you are using Enterprise or Professional edition of Microsoft Windows, you can password protect files and folders using EFS which is a built-in feature in Windows. The EFS feature provides file level encryption for data stored on NTFS system as well as directly linked to specific user account on Operating System. For example if the file is encrypted by using local user account then even administrator won’t be able to access it. The user who encrypted file can access it normally as long as he has logged into same user account. In short, we can say that this method is useful if we want to protect data from outer access. In case someone is using same user account, can access the data without any password.

Right click on the file or folder which you want to encrypt. Select the Properties. Click Advanced button under General tab.

Properties of folder

Now check mark “Encrypt contents to save disk space” and hit OK button.

Note: Using EFS feature, files are encrypted with Windows password. It will not ask you to set different passwords. So it is not possible to set different passwords for different files.

This method is useful when you don’t require transferring the files over the network as it only keep the files encrypted as long as those are kept on your hard drive.

To Decrypt Data using EFS (Encryption File System)

In case you need to transfer your data to another system, you have to decrypt files which you ever encrypted by using Encrypted File System. For this just follow the same process as you used while encryption.

Right click on encrypted file or folder, select Properties from the context menu.

Click Advanced button under General tab. Now uncheck “Encrypt contents to save disk space” and hit OK button.

Now you can move your decrypted files to another system.

If you want to share protected files with other authorized persons, you can use the methods which we discussed earlier in this blog post.

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