How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

How to Encrypt a Folder Windows 10

Over the past several years, data security has become a very important aspect of everyone’s digital life. Be it their personal information on social networking sites or other online platforms or offline data on their computers and mobile devices, all of it is prone to theft. Thus, it is important to protect your data by any means possible. While it is difficult to protect yourself on online platforms, care must be taken for the information you upload or share. Data security fares a little better on the offline front. Individual files and programs can be encrypted with passwords. Encrypting data prevents it from being viewed by other users who have access to the same computer. In this article, we have explained two solutions on how to encrypt a folder in Windows 10 in order to protect your files on Windows 10. So. continue reading to encrypt a file using folder encryption software.

How to Encrypt a Folder Windows 10

How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

Depending on what you are looking to encrypt, there are different folder encryption software that can be used. Windows 10 offers two built-in tools for this purpose, namely, EFS and Bitlocker. EFS stands for Encrypting File System and is used to encrypt individual files and folders whereas Bitlocker is used to encrypt entire volumes. Apart from these native tools, there are also a plethora of third-party encryption applications available on the internet which offer additional features.

Method 1: Use Encrypting File System on Windows Enterprise & Pro

More often than not, users are only looking to protect certain files from their privacy-invading siblings or envious colleagues who have access to their computer. If that is indeed the case, making separate user accounts is the first step followed by denying access to your personal files to other users. This can be achieved by using the EFS feature which encrypts data on NTFS drives on a per-user basis.

  • In layman’s terms, only the user account that encrypted the files will be able to access them. And, all other accounts will be prohibited from interacting with the encrypted file.
  • You simply need to log in from that user account to access the files and need not enter the encryption password again.
  • Although, be sure to set a strong password for your user account as that is the only thing that stands between others accessing your encrypted files and folders.

Note: EFS is only available on Enterprise and Professional versions of Windows.

Follow the steps listed below to encrypt a folder in Windows 10 using EFS.

Step I: Encrypt File/Folder using EFS

1. Press Windows key + E keys simultaneously to open File Explorer

2. Right-click on file you would like to encrypt from other users and choose Properties from the ensuing menu, as shown.

Right click on it and choose Properties from the ensuing menu. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

3. On the General tab, click on the Advanced… button as highlighted below.

On the General tab, click on the Advanced button under the Attributes section.

4. Finally, check the box for Encrypt contents to secure data option under the Compress or Encrypt attributes section.

Finally, check the box Encrypt contents to secure data option under Compress or Encrypt attribute section

5. Click on OK to save the modification.

Click on OK to save the modification. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

6. If you are encrypting a single file, an encryption warning dialog box will pop up. Choose any one of the given options and click on OK.

  • Encrypt the file and its parent folder (recommended)
  • Encrypt the file only

7. Click on Apply in the Properties window to apply the changes.

8. This will open a window prompting to you choose an option for encryption. Choose your preferred option and click OK to continue:

  • Apply changes to this folder only 
  • Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files

Choose your preferred option and click OK to continue

Note: The window may freeze a little while during the encryption process.

9. Click on OK to exit the folder properties window. The encrypted file will be marked with a tiny padlock at the top-right corner of the file’s thumbnail, as shown highlighted.

The encrypted file will be marked with a tiny padlock at the top right corner of the file’s thumbnail.

Step II: Set & Save Encryption Key

10. Once the file/folder has been successfully encrypted, a notification requesting you to backup the encryption certificate and key will appear at the bottom right corner of your screen. Open this notification and select Back up now (recommended) option to continue.

Open the notification and click on Back up now to continue. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

Note: You can also choose other options but we recommend you to back it up immediately to prevent any kind of data loss in case you forget your user account password and cannot access the encrypted file in the future.

11. Follow on-screen instructions in the Certificate Export Wizard. Type the Password and Confirm password & click Next.

If you want to password protect this backup of your EFS key then simply checkmark the Password box

12. Click on the Browse… button to choose the exact location where the encryption key should be saved and set an appropriate name for the same.

Finally, click on the Browse… button to choose the exact location where the encryption key should be saved and set an appropriate name for the same. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

13. Click on Next to finalize it.

That’s it, you have successfully encrypted the file from other user accounts and also saved a recovery key for safety.

Note: It is recommended to copy the recovery key and the encryption certificate to external media or upload it to cloud storage.

To decrypt the file in the future, follow steps 1-4 to open Advanced Attributes Window of the file. Simply, uncheck Encrypt contents to secure data option, as depicted below.

Finally, check the box Encrypt contents to secure data option under Compress or Encrypt attribute section

Also Read: Fix Encrypt Contents To Secure Data Grayed Out In Windows 10

Method 2: Use Third-party Encryption Programs on Windows Home Edition

As mentioned earlier, EFS is not available on Home edition of Windows. You can use third-party folder encryption software. Several antivirus programs also provide encryption features. All these programs follow different encryption techniques and provide varying levels of security. So before installing any of them, visit their official websites and read out the specifications.

Note: We will be demonstrating how to encrypt a file using 7-zip. However, the procedure remains similar for other applications as well.

Step I: Encrypt File/Folder using 7-Zip

1. Download & install 7-zip on your computer first.

2. Right-click on the file you would like to encrypt. Choose 7-Zip > Add to archive… option, as depicted.

Right click on the file you would like to encrypt and go to 7 zip. Choose Add to archive… option. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

3. In the Archive: field, enter an appropriate name for the encrypted file.

In the Archive field, type out an appropriate name for the encrypted file in folder encryption software

4. Click Archive format drop-down list and choose zip, as shown.

Click Archive format drop down list and choose zip in folder encryption software. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

5. On the right-hand side, choose AES-256 in Encryption method: drop-down list.

On the right hand side, click the dropdown list of Encryption method and choose AES 256 in folder encryption software

6. Type the password under Enter password and Reenter the password fields respectively.

Note: Tick the box next to Show Password to check the password entered.

Type the password under Enter password and Reenter password in the respective fields in folder encryption software. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

7. Click on OK to create the encrypted file.

Click on Ok to create the encrypted file in folder encryption software

Note: The encryption process may take a couple of minutes to finish depending on the size of the file and the password-protected .zip file will appear in the same location as the original file.

Step II: Extract Contents of Encrypted File

The zip file can be opened by anyone. In order to extract its contents and to view them, you will be required to enter the password set earlier.

The encryption process may take a couple of minutes to finish depending on the size of the file and the password protected .zip file will appear in the same location as the original file. The zip file can be opened by anyone but in order to extract its contents and therefore, to view them, they will require the password so set a strong one. folder encryption software

Hence, this is how you can encrypt a folder using folder encryption software.

Also Read: 25 Best Encryption Software For Windows

How to Encrypt Word Documents

If you are looking to protect sensitive information contained inside a Microsoft Word file, you can encrypt the document from within the application itself. A very important point to remember about Word document encryption is that it works on per-PC basis. This means that if you send the file to someone else, it won’t remain password protected. Here’s how to do so:

1. Hit Windows key, type Word, and click Open, as shown.

 Type Word in Start menu and click Open to launch. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

2. Click on File on the top-left corner.

Click on File on the top left corner.

3. Then, click Open and navigate to the document location and Open it.

Click Open in word

4. Again, go to the File menu and click on the Info tab.

5. Here, click on Protect Document. From the drop-down list, choose Encrypt with Password option, as illustrated below.

Go to Info tab, click on Protect Document. From the dropdown list, choose Encrypt with Password.

6. In the Encrypt Document pop-up, type the desired Password and click OK.

Note: Just like always, the password will be case-sensitive.

In the following Encrypt Document popup, type the desired password and click OK.

7. Again in Confirm Password prompt, re-enter the password to confirm it and hit Enter key to finish document encryption.

The following message will be displayed: A password is required to open this document.

Re-enter the password to confirm it and hit Enter to finish document encryption. How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10

Pro Tip: How to Encrypt Windows Drives/Partitions

On the other hand, if you are looking to encrypt an entire volume of data, check out our guide on How to Enable and Set Up BitLocker Encryption on Windows 10.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Can you encrypt a folder in Windows 10?

Ans. Yes, you can encrypt individual folders on Windows 10 Enterprise and Professional versions using the Encrypting File System.

Q2. How do I password protect my files in Windows 10?

Ans. To password protect solo files from other user accounts, you can use the built-in EFS feature but if you wish to encrypt a file in general, install a third-party application such as 7-zip or VeraCrypt.

Recommended:

Hope the above methods helped you to understand how to encrypt a folder Windows 10 using in-built or third-party folder encryption software. We would also like to remind you that all types of encryption can be cracked albeit with brute force, lots of effort, and requires expertise. So be extremely careful of who you are sharing your files with. Keep visiting our page for more cool tips & tricks and leave your comments below.

Posted by
Elon Decker

Elon is a tech writer at TechCult. He's been writing how-to guides for about 6 years now and has covered many topics. He loves to cover topics related to Windows, Android, and the latest tricks and tips.

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