Encrypting a file or folder in Windows is relatively easy and straightforward, as long as you have the right tools. To encrypt a file or folder in Windows, you will need to use either the Windows built-in encryption tool (known as Encrypting File System, or EFS) or a third-party encryption tool like VeraCrypt or AxCrypt.
Before proceeding, it’s important to understand that when you encrypt a file or folder, you are making the data completely unreadable and inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t have the necessary decryption key. As such, it is imperative that you safeguard the encryption key and never lose it.
Using Windows Built-in Encrypting File System
If you’re running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, then the simplest and most reliable way to encrypt a file or folder is to use Encrypting File System (EFS). This feature comes already installed on Windows and enables you to easily encrypt your files and folders with a single click.
To use EFS, first open the File Explorer window and locate the file or folder that you want to encrypt. Then, right-click it and select Properties from the drop-down menu. In the Properties window, look for the General tab, and then click the Advanced button.
In the Advanced Attributes section, you should find an entry labeled “Encrypt contents to secure data”. Press the checkbox next to this entry and click OK.
Once you’ve done this, Windows will prompt you to back up the encryption key. This key is used to decrypt the file, so make sure to save it in a secure location. After you’ve backed up the key, Windows will start encrypting the file or folder.
Note that when you encrypt a file or folder with EFS, only the user that encrypted the data will be able to access it.
Using Third-Party Encryption Tools
In addition to using EFS, you can also use third-party encryption tools to encrypt a file or folder in Windows. The most popular ones include VeraCrypt, TrueCrypt, and AxCrypt.
These tools all function in a similar manner, though they may have slightly different interfaces. Generally, to encrypt a file or folder using a third-party encryption tool, you need to first select the file or folder that you want to encrypt. Then, you need to create an encryption key, which will be used to both encrypt and decrypt the file or folder. After that, you’ll need to enter the encryption key twice (to confirm it), and the tool will start the encryption process.
It’s important to note that while most third-party encryption tools will encrypt data on a local level, some of them also provide cloud-based encryption services. This means that you can encrypt your data not just on your computer, but also on the cloud. However, this feature usually requires an additional fee.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that most encryption tools also come with features such as password protection, secure file deletion, and data wipe capability, so make sure to explore the options available before choosing a tool.
When it comes to encrypting a file or folder in Windows, there are two options available: using the Windows built-in Encrypting File System (EFS) or using a third-party encryption tool. Both approaches are secure, though you may need to pay for additional features with third-party tools. In any case, make sure to keep your encryption key safe and secure, since it’s the only way to decrypt your data.