How To Encrypt Files, Folders, And Drives On Windows 10

Privacy Protection is important to each and every one of us. Protecting our personal files is everyone’s topmost priority. Not all files should be accessible to everyone even our family.

Encryption is the way to go if you want to prevent any other third party from accessing your data. This article is centred on Windows 10 operating system users.

As a Windows 10 user, you have numerous option for encrypting information. In this tutorial, I will show you how to encrypt individual files, file folders, and even entire disk drives.

There are types of encryption that you can use. We are going to talk about all.

  • Individual file encryption
  • Folder encryption
  • Hard drive/ Disk encryption.

Individual File Encryption

Individual file encryption refers to encrypting one file at a time. Each file will have its own unique password or key.
Files you plan to share or store in the cloud is best for individual encryption.

Windows 10 users can use software’s like 7-zip to encrypt files. Microsoft Office files can also be encrypted individually from within their apps.

 

Folder Encryption

With folder encryption, every data in a folder will be encrypted. Passwords or keys are assigned to the folder but not individual files. Folder encryption is a great organizational tool. For example, you can create a whole folder for your personal data you don’t want to fall in the hands of third parties and encrypt with a key or password.

Also, you can create folders for people who use your computer and set password or keys for each person so that they can only access those folders when using your computer.

You should note that encrypting files in a folder doesn’t prevent you from encrypting individual files in a folder.

Hard Drive Or Disk Encryption

This type of encryption secures the entire drive at once as the name suggests. To use an encrypted hard drive, you would need the password or key that was used to secure the hard drive.

Without the password, nothing can be accessed on the drive. If your computer is stolen or misplaced and falls in the hands of bad people, they will need to bypass the encryption to use the device. This makes hard drive encryption a first defence for such situations.

How To Encrypt Files And Folders In Windows 10

Your version of Windows 10 will determine the type of encryption to use. For Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise, users have a built-in encryption tool called the Encrypting File System (EFS).

For other Windows 10 users, third-party apps will be available for use. The recommended software to consider is 7-zip for file and folder encryption.

Apart from this, Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat apps also have a built-in basic file encryption option. We are going to focus on these in this post.

How To Encrypt Files And Folders Using The Encrypting File System

As said earlier on, the EMS is available for only the Pro and Enterprise users. It is located as an Advance feature in the Windows File Explorer. If this is used carelessly, you won’t be able to access your files till eternity.

EFS comes with its own Con’s. Let’s highlight some of the Con’s of EFS below.

  • EFS works on only NTFS formatted drives
  • Once you move EFS encrypted file from an NTFS drive to a Fat32 or extFAT drive, the file automatically decrypts.
  • If you also move EFS files to a netork or sends via an email, the file becomes decrypted.

Now you know the Cons, you can consider your options on which encryption to use.

Below are the steps to follow to encrypt a file using EFS.

  1. Open file explorer and navigate to the file or folder you want to encrypt.
  2. Right-click the file or folder.
  3. Navigate to properties
  4. In the general tab of properties, locate and click on the advanced button.
  5. An advanced attributes box will appear. Tick the Encrypt Contents to Secure Data check box.
  6. Click OK.

Successfully, you have encrypted your file/folder and this will be accessible by only you.

How To Encrypt Files Or Folders With 7-Zip On Windows 10

7-Zip is a free software for file compression but can also be used for file and folders encryption. To proceed, you need to have the 7-Zip software installed on your device. After successful installation, follow the below steps.

  • Right-click on the file or folder you want to encrypt.
  • In the shortcut menu that appears, choose 7-zip, the Add to Archive. The Archive menu window will pop-up.
  • Enter the name of the Archive you want to create in the Archive field.
  • Select zip in the Archive format.
  • In the Encryption section, enter a strong password in the password field and confirm the accuracy of the password by re-entering it the next bar.
  • In the Encryption Method list, select AES-256.
  • Select Ok. That’s all, you encrypted your file.

How To Encrypt Files Using Microsoft Office On Windows

With this, we are going to use Microsoft Office.

  1. Open the document you want to encrypt with Microsoft Office.
  2. Select file then choose info.
  3. In the popup info window, choose protect.
  4. In the menu that shows, select Encrypt with a password.
  5. Enter the password you want to use in the menu that shows.

That’s all. Anytime you want to access the document, you will have to open it with the password you used for the encryption.

How To Encrypt Hard Drives On Windows 10.

With the hard drive encryption, we are going to use the services of a third party to realize this. The software we are going to use is called Veracrypt. Download and install Veracrypt to proceed with us on this section. Below are the steps to follow to encrypt your entire hard drive.

  • Launch Veracrypt and select System from the menu. Select Encrypt system partition/drive.
  • The Veracrypt Volume Creation wizard appears. Select Normal and click the Next button to proceed.
  • The wizard will ask you whether to encrypt just the Windows System partition or the entire drive. At this juncture, the choice is yours. You can choose the best option that suits you. Choose and click Next to proceed.
  • The number of operating systems will show next. If you are using dual-booting or single boot, you can choose the preferred option of your computer.
  • The Encryption Option window will show next. Choose AES for the encryption algorithm and SHA 256 for the Hash Algorithm. Click the next button to continue.
  • The password window will now show. It is recommended you set a strong password. Click next to advance to the next window.
  • The collecting random window will come next. You will be asked to move your mouse around randomly within the window. You can click the Next button once the meter button of the page is full.
  • The key generated window is the next to show. You need not do anything here. Just press enter to continue.
  • The next step is to create a Verascrypt Rescue Disc (VRD). After creating a VRD, identify the location Verascrypt saves the ZIP image. If you don’t want to create a Rescue disk, you can skip the option.
  • If you skipped, overlook this part. Verascrypt will ask you to create a physical rescue disk for inspection.
  • After a successful application, there will be a Rescue disk verified window.
  • After this, the Wipe Mode window appears. This option doesn’t need any attention. Set it to (none) and proceed.
  • The system encryption preset now appears. This is where Veracrypt checks and see if the encryption will work.
  • If everything went well, your system will restart and there will be a new encrypted window. Anytime you want to access the windows or hard drive, you will need to input the encrypted key or password.

Conclusion

Privacy protection is one of the most important things people don’t joke with. Encrypting your files is the least you can do to protect your important data’s.

In this article, we looked at how to encrypt files or folders or hard drives using built-in applications or third party app. If this post educated you very much, don’t forget to comment your expertise.

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