Password protecting your folders adds great protection to your sensitive information. It minimizes the chances of anyone snooping around, especially if you share a Windows PC with multiple users. Best of all, you can choose from a variety of different tools to password protect your folders entirely for free. There’s even a built-in Windows password protection tool.
That said, there are a few downsides to doing and several other key things you should be aware of before you set it up. On this detailed page, we’ll cover everything you need to know to password protect folders in Windows 10.
Why and how can a password protect a folder?
Before we dig deeper into the details, let’s answer the first and most apparent question - why should you want to set up password protection for your folders? In short, there’s no across-the-board answer, as you might want to do so for many reasons.
Most users primarily set password protection for folders in Windows 10 to protect sensitive information. This can include anything from passwords and important financial data to private photos you wouldn’t want anyone to see without your consent. Folder password protection is also a common practice among businesses. While they rarely have embarrassing photos, they still have tons of sensitive documents and files they wouldn’t want their competitors to see.
Another reason why you might want to set up password protection for your folders is to ensure secure and private data transfers. This is especially useful in work environments in cases when you want to share files only with select coworkers who have the password.
This brings up another crucial question - how can you password protect a folder? Before you even think of a password and choose the folders you want to password protect, you need to choose a program you’ll rely on to do this task.
When it comes to the ways how to password protect a folder on Windows, there’s no shortage of options. Obviously, not all of them have the same features, so it’s best to pick at least a couple, as this will help you determine which is best for you. A quick Google search will result in a long list of options, including the top options like VeraCrypt, BitLocker, and AxCrypt.Password Encryption vs. Password Protection
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “how can I protect a folder in Windows 10” know that the answer is simple. In short, you have two suitable options. You can either encrypt the folder or protect it with a password. These two things may sound the same if you’re not a tech geek, but there’s actually a significant difference between them you should be aware of. Here’s a quick overview of the differences between password encryption and password protection:
- Password Encryption - Password encryption entails scrambling all of the data and storing it in ciphertext, making it impossible for anyone unauthorized to read it. To access the files, you need to have the authentication key.
- Password Protection - This form of data protection is similar to physically locking your valuable possessions in a safe. Only those with the right password can access the files. This is why password protection is referred to as a type of knowledge-based authentication.
How to Encrypt a Folder in Windows 10
Now that you understand the difference between password protection and password encryption, you can choose which form of protection suits you better. To help you out, we’ve drafted straightforward step-by-step guides for both forms, starting with the latter type of protection. With that in mind, here’s how to encrypt a folder in Windows 10:
Step 1. Choose the folder or file you want to encrypt.
Step 2. Right-click on it and select the option “Properties”.
Step 3. After the new window pops up, navigate to the “General” tab and click on the “Advanced” button in the bottom right corner of the window.
Step 4. Tick the “Encrypt contents for secure data” box and click on “OK” on both windows.
This simple four-step guide will help you encrypt any files and folders you want to keep safe and private. However, we should note that the option “Encrypt contents for secure data” isn’t available if you’re using the Windows Home OS version, as this OS doesn’t support this feature.
Additionally, if you’re still having trouble setting up folder encryption and aren’t using a Home OS version, make sure to double-check your folder’s location. The drive where the drives are located must be formatted as NTFS. Otherwise, this encryption option will be unavailable.
How to Password Protect a Folder in Windows 10
Windows OS versions before the Windows 10 Pro don’t offer any password protection options. Moreover, even the Windows 10 Pro version, which has these features, could use some improvements on this front.
The best options to choose from include compression tools like WinRar and 7-Zip. The latter is our preferred choice, so we’ll base this setup tutorial on the 7-Zip password protection process. Having said that, here’s how to password protect a folder in Windows 10 with 7-Zip:
Step 1. Go to the 7-Zip website and pick the appropriate version for your PC. For most users, this is the x64 Windows build that runs on the majority of modern Windows computers.
Step 2. Download and install the 7-Zip program following the installation steps.
Step 3. Open the 7-Zip program and navigate within its interface to choose the folder you want to password-protect and click the green addition symbol in the program’s upper-left corner. Differently, you can also drag and drop the folder directly into the interface.
Step 4. Once a new pop-up window appears, choose “Zip” from the available drop-down menu beside the “Archive Format” option.
Step 5. Choose your password, which you have to enter and reenter in the lower right half of the window. After this, click OK to prompt the tool to create a compressed and encrypted duplicate of your target folder.
Step 6. Once 7-Zip finishes creating the password-protected file or folder, test it to check if the password works and if you can access the content without any issues. After you do so, you can delete the unprotected folder so that no one can access it.
How To Set A Strong Password to Protect Your Files and Folders
With all of the information above, you now know the ins and outs of how to password protect a folder on Windows 10. But, to make sure that your password does the job, you need to set strong password protection for Windows 10. Here are a few quick tips on how password protect a folder with a strong combination:
- Make it Long and Complex - The password should be between 8 and 16 characters, ideally closer to the higher number. It should include both upper and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers.
- Avoid Using Predictable Words - The bulk of password breaches happen because users have weak and predictable passwords. Using names of your close ones or combining identical passwords and usernames is out of the question. Also, avoid the common error of using consecutive numbers like 123, 789, etc.
- Only You Should Know It - To take it a step further than the previous tip, you should be the only person who can think up such a password combination. The password should make perfect sense to you, but not to anyone else.
The Problem With Passwords
Knowing how to password protect a folder on Windows is undoubtedly valuable but not a reason to get complacent with your safety practices. This is because passwords generally come with an inherent set of problems you have to accept if you want to use them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most significant problems with passwords:
- Hard to Remember and Manage - Unless you’re using a 123456 password on all of the folders you protect, the high chances are that you have a bunch of passwords unrelated to each other that you have to remember at all times. This can be challenging and annoying at times.
- No Way to Recover the Password - In line with the previous tip, having no way to recover your password in case you lose it can be worrying. If you forget a password to a folder you have valuable files in, you’re certainly in for a lot of hair-pulling.
- Password Protection is Far from Flawless - Lastly, it’s crucial to remember that, although practical, passwords won’t keep you protected at all times and in all situations. This is particularly true in a corporate setting where you share the password with several other people. One human error can quickly open up the opportunity for a phishing attack, account takeover, or different types of cyber-attack.
All of these and any other problems are a given with password authentication. Knowing these potential risks and issues is as important as knowing how to password protect a folder. Fortunately, there is a simple solution. This brings us to the next key part of the page.
Say No to Unauthorized Access & Security Risks
If you want to keep your files and folders safe and secure but want to avoid all of the hassles involved with passwords and encryption software, we’ve come up with the perfect security solutions for you. Our Hideez security key (for individual users) and Hideez Enterprise Solution (Universal IAM tool for businesses) provide you with great safety features without any of the drawbacks.
With our Hideez Key 3, you can count on a long list of benefits that spans much wider than just protecting your files and folders. You can easily store all logins and passwords for the websites and services you use, as you can take advantage of more than 1000 login credentials. Moreover, all logins and passwords are stored in an encrypted password vault and auto-filled at a simple push of the button.
Lastly, the key offers you other convenient features. Most notably, these include an OTP generator, proximity authentication, and a built-in RFID module you can reprogram to open electric doors in your office or household. The Hideez Key 3 is the ultimate security solution for passwordless authentication, supporting the latest FIDO passwordless standard. Contact us to request a free demo and trial of the enterprise version.