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How to password protect a folder

Windows computers have all sorts of security features, but most of the time, users do not know about some of them or how to implement these features. This article will show you how to password protect or encrypt a folder on computers running Windows operating system.

Of all the Windows OS versions, only Windows XP has a feature for password-protecting folders. However, Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10 users can do this with the help of additional software. We’ll begin with encrypting folders on Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10, and then continue to show you how to password-protect them if you use the somewhat dated Windows XP operating system.

For Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10 users

If your computer runs on Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or 10, you can follow the steps below to encrypt your folder. For Windows to encrypt your file or folder, their storage location of the NTFS format.

Step 1: Navigate to the location and select the folder you wish to encrypt

Step 2: Right-click on the folder you want to encrypt and hit ‘Properties’’

Step 3: Click on ‘Advanced’ under the ‘General’ tab

Step 4: Find the box that says ‘Encrypt contents to secure data,’ check it and hit ‘OK’ on the two windows

Windows encrypts the selected folder immediately you click the final ‘OK.’ If your system does not let you check the ‘Encrypt contents to secure data’ box, it means your version of Windows might be the Home edition, and this does not support file and folder encryption.

For Windows XP Users

The steps are similar to what we explained in the version for the newer Windows versions. Here is how to encrypt your folder on a Windows XP computer if your system has more than two user accounts.

Step 1: Navigate to the location and select the folder you wish to encrypt

Step 2: Right-click on the selected folder. Click ‘Properties’

Step 3: Switch to the ‘General’ tab and click ‘Advanced’

Step 4: Check the box to enable the ‘Encrypt contents to secure data’ option

Step 5: Click ‘Apply’ to save the changes, and hit ‘OK’ to leave the page

Similar to encrypting folders on Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10, if you don’t have the ‘Encrypt contents to secure data’ option or it’s not selectable, you are likely using a Home edition of Windows XP.

Things to note about password protection

  1. Although passwords are a fantastic security feature, they do not offer absolute protection for your files and folders. Hackers have tools and techniques for breaking encryption and bypassing or cracking passwords.
  2. Passworded files and folders cannot be recovered if you forget their passwords, except if you pay an ethical hacker to break them.
  3. Passwords do not protect malicious players from deleting your file.

Other options for password protecting folders in Windows

The steps for encrypting folders are straightforward. However, if you want to encrypt a folder that you rarely use, a compression tool can do the trick. What you do here is create an archive of the folder to be encrypted using a compression program. Most encryption tools allow you to set a password for archives they create. So, after you compress your folder, you can proceed to set a password. Easy.

If you want to know which compression tools to use, TechRadar summarizes how to use WinZip and offers some alternatives.

We hope that helps! If you have any comments, please tweet us. We're @CCleaner.

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