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 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.
3. On the General tab, click on the Advanced… button as highlighted below.
4. Finally, check the box for Encrypt contents to secure data option under the Compress or Encrypt attributes section.
5. Click on OK to save the modification.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3. In the Archive: field, enter an appropriate name for the encrypted file.
4. Click Archive format drop-down list and choose zip, as shown.
5. On the right-hand side, choose AES-256 in Encryption method: drop-down list.
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.
7. Click on OK to create the encrypted file.
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.
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.
2. Click on File on the top-left corner.
3. Then, click Open and navigate to the document location and Open it.
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.
6. In the Encrypt Document pop-up, type the desired Password and click OK.
Note: Just like always, the password will be case-sensitive.
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.
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.
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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.