You must be asking why and how can you keep your files safe on Windows. So the answer to your “Why” can be the recent wave of ransomware which makes a windows user pretty much helpless. Windows is a user friendly platform to use and it was, is and will always be used by the masses as it doesn’t really have much competition. But the only place where it isn’t sufficient is the security. You simply cannot rely upon the Window’s built-in security for the obvious reasons.
However, this page provides guidance/steps on how to encrypt files and folders as most of the versions of Windows do not offer any method of protecting your files, folders and more. You need a third party software to password protect your data as internal password protections options aren’t available in Windows.
Important note: remember to create a backup of your data to make sure you are well able to recover it in case if you forget your password in the future.
Password Protection of files in Microsoft Windows 7, 8, and 10:
The bitter truth is that these Windows do not provide any password protecting features and you can protect your files and folders using the internal features of your Windows. Third party program as mentioned above however lets you do so.
However, encryption in Windows is possible and can be done with the following steps:
- Select the folder/file that needs to be encrypted
- Right click on it and tap on ‘Properties’
- Click ‘Advanced’ on the General tab to proceed further
- Furthermore, check the box for the ‘Encrypt contents to secure data’ feature.
- Tap on ‘Apply’ and finally press OK.
However, if the fourth option is not available, you might just have the home edition of Windows and you won’t be able to use this feature as it is not supported in your version/edition.
Alternate options – To protect files:
Create an archive of your files using a compression tool. This is an easy way of password protection as when the archive is created; you can encrypt the contents by setting a password.
Windows XP brings its own compression utility feature that helps them to compress and password protect files when necessary.
Windows Vista or Windows 7 also brings along a compression utility. But know that a third party software is required for the password protection of the compressed file.
By now you might have noticed that a third party software is essential for data security and Windows itself isn’t sufficient enough for the security conscious users. Below we tested and briefed a few software that could work to satisfy your needs.
Another competitor in the category of third party software is Folder Lock. Although the name only implies the file/folder ‘locking’ ability but we were surprised to test other features it offered. Shredder and data backup is also available but its password protection is rather more reliable than password protection option.
It uses AES 256 bit encryption but such dependency only exists in encryption category due to which we only recommend Folder Lock’s encryption feature and not the password protection feature.
Folder lock homepage http://www.newsoftwares.net/folderlock/
Axcrypt is a user friendly software that encrypts your data easily. Once installed, right click on any file or folder and choose ‘Axcrypt>Encrypt’ option. The most obvious fact which is usually ignored that you must keep a strong passphrase and you shouldn’t tell anyone about it.
Axcrypt surprisingly would remember your passphrase throughout the session. This saves your time of entering your password again and again but also makes you vulnerable to the obvious threats. But in any case, you can clear the memory of your passphrase when necessary. Finally, shred and delete feature is also made available with this program that lets you get rid of files beyond recovery.
Axcrypt Homepage https://www.axcrypt.net/
This program comes second in line that lets you create virtual disk in encrypted form within a file. To the audience who you do not trust, it is just another file that cannot be opened without a password but for you, it is a virtual encrypted disk where you can store your entire private file, folders and more.
Truecrypt stands out when it works to encrypt an entire bunch of files or folders instead of securing single files. Hence, this saves time and effort.
Truecrypt Homepage http://truecrypt.sourceforge.net/
Windows is one of the most commonly used platforms because of the user-friendliness but it isn’t self-sufficient when it comes to data security options. Hence, if you’re a security conscious user, try adjusting to any of the third party software and find peace. You may go for the free trial before making the purchase of any program as it would help you analyze whether your preferred software does what you need or not.