Interestingly, we all seek to shield our data against unauthorized users modifying classical documents, avoid outright deletion, and also transfer such private folders, whether consciously or unconsciously.
You may not really be safe from these data breaches except when you don’t share your computer with others so that the hapless error of landing sensitive information in the wrong hands will be minimized.
There are basically two security procedures to keep your files and folders secure: One is the use of third-party tools to fully password-protect your sensitive files and folders, and the other, the use of Windows encryption program, which allows you to encrypt a folder entirely.
Unfortunately, most of the Windows versions do not have built-in password enabled features for files and folders, leaving us with only encryption and other third-party software.
What Is Encryption?
Encryption is simply transforming your vital document into a virtually unreadable format to curb unauthorized access and, thus, requiring some key to decode it.
While encryption basically stores the file or folder in cipher text, password protection requires you have unique, strong and nearly unfathomable combinations to shield your sensitive files.
Below are easy procedures to secure your files and folders with password protection and encryption in Windows 7, 8 and 10 against cybercrime.
Password Protection of Files & Folders in Windows
First: In-built Folder Encryption
This procedure is pretty simple to carry out, and it affects all the files found within the folder. The steps are as follows:
- Locate the folder you want to encrypt.
- Right-click on it and navigate to “Properties”.
- Click the “Advanced” button on the General tab.
- Check the box having “Encrypt contents to secure data” option, hit the “Ok” button, and then “Apply”.
- Next, Windows will want to know whether the encryption should be applied only to the folder or all the files within it.
- Go for full folder encryption. Once the encryption is done, you should see a tiny yellow lock on the file/folder icon, and this will automatically apply to every other file you copy into the folder after that.
However, you should know that file/folder encryption in Windows only is directly linked to your Windows account and once you are logged in, the folder and files within it decrypt but transferring or opening the same folder or file with another computer or device will deny them access to the contents of the folder.
Second: Third-party software programs
Some of these third-party password protections are free while others come with a price. Here is a list of relevant tools:
This is an open-source and free-to-use piece of software, which works on any Windows. It uses high compression and secure AES-256 encryption, allowing you to password-protect archived zip files or folders. So, each time you want to use the file, you must decrypt it. Click here to download and install the program.
This is also a free encryption tool that lets you encode all files in a folder without allowing access to such files by an unauthorized user. Click here
VeraCrypt is yet another free security tool to encrypt your files and folders. With a pretty simple user interface, it allows for full disk encryption and also folder specific mode. You can download the setup file here and install it accordingly.
It is also a robust software that allows you to password-protect files and folders but requires you to pay to enjoy its features. Download the setup file here and install the software following the instructions.
Note that the fact that you have your folder or file encrypted or locked with a password does not guarantee total protection, so the importance of backing up your file before password protecting should not be taken with levity.
This could save you from the likely consequence of conscious or unconscious deletion, when you forgot the combinations for your password, or when your encryption software got corrupted.
We strongly suggest you backup regularly and also go for the paid version of the software depending on the level of confidentiality of your data.