Protecting your data by storing it on your password-protected computer is good – protecting important files themselves as well is better! You can absolutely protect crucial documents via password if you want to – the method to do so depends on the version of Windows you are running though.
It can be done directly in Windows if you have a Pro or Enterprise edition – if you have a Home edition, you’ll need to use external software to password protect your content.
Tip: To check which version of Windows you have, press the Windows and R key on your keyboard. Then type ‘winver’ and press Enter. A new window will open up, and in the paragraph there, you’ll see whether you are running Home or another version.
In order to password-protect a folder or document, open your File Explorer and navigate there. When you’ve found it, right-click on it and select Properties. A new window will open up, where, near the bottom, you’ll see a button labelled Advanced.
Tip: Be aware that your password-protected files can’t be shared with anyone else – they will be encrypted so that only you can use them.
Click on the Advanced button to see some additional options – at the bottom, there is one labelled ‘Encrypt contents to secure data’. Check the box and press Apply.
Tip: If you are using Windows 10 Home, this box will be greyed out and it won’t work.
Windows will immediately start to encrypt your files for you. If you are using the feature for the first time, Windows will ask you to back up your encryption key somewhere. This is a very important piece of information that you should really keep good track of – if you ever lose access to your files, this is the only way to get it back!
The key is your password – and it’s tied to your Windows account. If anyone else tries to access the files with a different account, or even by taking your physical drive, all they will see is meaningless text.
In Windows Home, you need to use external software in order to password-protect your files and folders.
There are a lot of programs out there that can accomplish (or at least promise to accomplish) this purpose. We recommend LocK-A-FoLdeR, a very simple program that offers easy, no-frills password-locking.
You can download it safely from the link above. Simply download the installer and run it. You’ll need to agree to the license agreement and work your way through the install-wizard. Don’t worry – it won’t take long!
When you’re done, run the program, and you’ll be prompted to set a master password. This is the password you’ll need to access the files and folders later. Make sure it’s something safe but easy to remember – if you lose it, you’ll be in trouble!
With a password set, you can access the full set of options.
You can lock folders, unlock them, and change your password. That’s it – the program doesn’t have any customizable elements to it, making it perfect for beginners and those looking for a simple, streamlined experience.