In these times, it is necessary to keep your information stored on the PC to keep it safe from intrusive looks. And for this nothing better than resorting to encryption: we teach you how to protect folders with a password, since neither Windows nor MacOS offer this possibility as a standard. In this guide, we help you safeguard your confidential data for both operating systems, for your security and peace of mind.
Note: If you ever need help remembering passwords, consider one of the best password managers.
Windows 10 Pro folder encryption
If you have Windows 10 Pro, there is an integrated protection system, although it is not the most complete. Basic Windows 10 Pro encryption offers file hiding that blocks a file in your account. In this way, if someone in another account or someone who copied your files to another PC, tried to access your content, they would need to know your account password.
However, anyone who uses your PC and your account still has access.
Step 1: Right-click on the chosen file and select Properties from the drop-down menu.
Step 2: Click on Advanced.
Step 3: Check the box next to Encrypt content to protect the data and click OK.
Step 4: Click Apply and, when prompted, choose if you want all folders in that directory to be encrypted or only the one at the top level. When you have decided, click OK.
Depending on the size and content of the folder, it may take a while to complete, but once this is done, your data will be encrypted and protected from the prying eyes of any person on another account or system. You can know that it has worked thanks to the small lock symbols that now appear in each file.
Password protection of Windows folders with 7Zip
Although Windows 10 Pro may have some protections, most versions of Windows are completely devoid of any specific security in folders. For most Windows users, adding a password to a folder requires a third-party file tool or some type of compression software. Options include 7-Zip, an open source compression program that is available for free thanks to Russian developer Igor Pavlov. It does a great job protecting your most important data with a password.
Ask you to unzip the folder before using it, but it is a small price to pay for security.
Step 1: browse to the 7-Zip download page and select the download that is right for you. Most users should opt for the 64-bit version of Windows x64. Once downloaded, install it as you will with any other software and run it.
Step 2: Locate the folder you wish to password protect within the main 7-Zip interface and click on the green addition sign in the upper left corner of the application. Alternatively, drag and drop the folder anywhere within the main 7-Zip interface.
Step 3: ignoring most of the presets in the resulting pop-up window, select zip from the drop-down menu directly next to the File format option to make sure the folder is still compatible on computers without 7-Zip installed. Then, enter and re-enter the desired password for the folder in the text fields located on the right side of the window. Click on the Accept button when finished and allow the utility to create a compressed and encrypted duplicate of the folder you wish to protect with a password.
Step 4: Once the password protected zip file is created, try it to make sure that it works correctly trying to access any of the contents it contains. Once you know that it is properly protected, delete the original folder so that it can no longer be accessed. There is no need to have the same data in two places, especially since the original folder remains unprotected.
Add password protection to folders in MacOS
Like most versions of Windows, Apple's MacOS lacks the native ability to add protection through passwords to folders, but what is lost in comfort is definitely gained in security: just don't forget to put an antivirus. The addition of a basic password will require you to create an encrypted disk image through the "Disk Utility" native to the operating system, an application that is preinstalled on almost all Mac devices. Once created, you can access the folder as a virtual disk, which allows you to edit, add and delete content after entering the designated password. Any changes you make while the disk is mounted will be automatically encrypted and protected with a password when you drag the disk to the Trash.
Step 1: go to MacOS Disk Utility in the Applications folder or search for the application using Spotlight. When you find it, start the program.
Step 2: Click File on the application toolbar, select New from the resulting drop-down menu, followed by Disk Image from the folder. Next, locate the folder you wish to password protect by examining the resulting folder, highlighting it and clicking on the Image button in the lower right corner of the window.
As another option, find the folder using the search bar in the upper right corner and click on the Image button in the lower right corner of the window.
Step 3: Once you have tagged and named the resulting files, select read / write from the drop-down menu directly to the right of the Image Format option ”, followed by 128-bit AES encryption from the drop-down menu (directly to the right of the Encryption option) . Then, choose the desired storage location and click on the Save button in the lower right corner when you are finished.
Step 4: When prompted, enter and re-enter the desired password in the text fields in the center of the pop-up window. Then, uncheck the box directly to the left of Remember password on my keychain and click on the "Accept" button at the bottom right of the window.
Step 5: Once the password protected disk image is created, make sure that it works correctly trying to access its content. Once you confirm that it is protected, delete the original folder so that it can no longer be accessed.