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How to Password Protect & Encrypt Files or Folders in Windows without cost
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How to Password Protect & Encrypt Files or Folders in Windows without cost

03-Jul-2016 | | Total View : 254 |

Encrypting files in Windows using the Encrypting Files System (EFS)-

Windows offers an inbuilt encryption technique called EFS to shield touchy information from undesirable clients. EFS can be utilized just on hard drives arranged as NTFS and on expert and premium versions of Windows. Home releases of Windows don't support this. 
 

To encrypt files with EFS, follow these steps:-

  1. Right click on the file or folder you want to protect and click on Properties.
  2. This will bring up the Properties window. In this window under the General tab, click on Advanced.
  3. In the Advanced attributes window, tick on Encrypt contents to secure data option.
  4. Click OK and Apply.

In the event that you encode records and envelopes with EFS, it would not change how you get to those documents and organizers. You would in any case have the capacity to peruse, adjust and erase those documents the length of you are signed into the client account that scrambled those records. Be that as it may, different clients from would not have the capacity. For instance, on the off chance that you convey the scrambled record in a glimmer drive, you would not have the capacity to get to it from different PCs. To get to it from different PCs, you will require your encryption key. 

Make sure that you backup your encryption key when Windows prompts you to do so. It will be required in case you want to access the encrypted files from a different user account or from a different computer.

To back up your encryption key, click on the Back up now option in the pop up that comes when you first encrypt a file or folder. Then, click Next on the window titled Certificate Export Wizard. Enter a password for your certificate (make sure it is tough but also easy to remember), choose a location to save it, give it a name and click Finish. 

In case Windows does not prompt you to back up your encryption key, you can back it up from the File Encryption Certificates manager. Since, EFS relies on your user account to give access to protected files, it is important to choose a strong password for your Windows user account.

EFS is relatively quick and hassle free but not totally secure as Windows stores an unencrypted version of protected files in the temporary folder (when you access them) which can be easily accessed by any experienced computer user. To overcome this weakness, ensure that you clean up your temporary files with the Disk Cleanup utility every time you access your protected files.

BitLocker

BitLocker is a Windows utility that allows you to encrypt hard drives and removable storage devices. BitLocker also uses EFS mentioned above with a minor difference. It encrypts the entire drive instead of encrypting individual files and folders. 

With BitLocker too, you wouldn’t notice much difference while using your computer but if anyone else tries to access them on a different computer, he will be shown a screen asking the password. BitLocker To Go can be used to encrypt removable flash drives as well. BitLocker too depends on the safety of your Windows user account to ensure that files remain private. Hence, it is extremely important to use a strong Windows password.

BitLocker can be turned on in the Control Panel. BitLocker only works on devices having TPM. In case your PC does not have TPM, you will get an error saying “This device can’t use a Trusted Platform Module.” TPM is a special circuit that’s built onto the motherboards of BitLocker compatible computers.

BitLocker is only available on Professional editions of Windows.

Important Tips:

  1. It is important to note that there are several tools and utilities available in the market that allow you to break encryption and passwords. The programs mentioned above will keep your data safe from a large majority of such tools but they, like all methods of encryption are not infallible.
  2. Even if you encrypt a file, it can still be deleted. So, be sure to back up your encrypted files.
  3. Make sure that you use a memorable password and keep your encryption key safe to prevent you from losing access to your encrypted files.

 

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