How To Password Protect Files And Folders

In an increasingly networked workplace it can be essential to know how to password protect files and folders so that only the right people have permissions to read/modify the contents. This article looks into how to do this using Windows XP/7 and how using Zip files can provide a more mobile solution.

password protect files and folders

Proper password protection is essential for your files and folders.

Windows XP started a new approach to allow you to password protect files and folders based on the Windows login as authentication. You can then authorize users specific commands (read, write, edit) based on permissions that you set. This allows you fine-grained security that dove-tails in with the Windows login authorization.

Here is how to protect a folder:

  1. Go to Windows/Explore and browse to a folder you wish to lock down.
  2. Select then right-click the folder and select ‘Properties’.
  3. In the opened properties window, go to the Security tab and hit edit.
  4. You may now edit permissions. Select a user/users/group from the top section then modify their attributes in the permissions section. Use the check boxes to deny users certain privileges then hit apply.
  5. Users will now have permissions for the folder based on your settings.

As an alternate approach, using Zip file password protection has long been a simpler way to protect files, that is not tied to Windows and works on shared drives.

Simply create a Zip file, add some files to protect then open the Zip with PC system software (e.g. WinZip or 7Zip). All these tools contain a File/Add A password menu item for securing the Zip file. Others can access the Zip contents so long as they have the password.

It is essential when you password protect files to make the password complex enough (to be un-guessable) and memorable enough so you can remember it. A forgotten password also means you will be unable to access your documents.


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