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How to password protect a folder on a Windows PC and safeguard your files locally

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  • You can password protect a folder on a Windows PC by right-clicking the folder and accessing its “Properties” menu. 
  • After you password protect a folder, your PC will prompt you to back up the files on an external source in case something happens to your computer or you forget your password.
  • When you use Windows’ built-in encryption tool to password protect your folders, you can only view them when you log in, regardless of administrative privileges.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference for more stories.

Your computer’s built-in encryption software allows you to access files only when you log in. So with a single password, you can protect your data from being seen by other people who use your account. 

While encrypting makes files safer, it’s worth noting that it’s not foolproof. Certain types of malware, like keyloggers, can figure out your encryption passwords and bypass them. You should also always remember to keep a backup of your encrypted files somewhere, in case you lose your password.

There are plenty of paid ways to password protect your folders, but Microsoft grants users a way to keep prying eyes from your files for free. Here’s how to do it using a Windows PC. 

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How to password protect a folder on Windows PC

1. Open Windows Explorer.

2. Find the folder you wish to encrypt and right-click on it.

3. Select Properties.

How to password protect a folder 1

You need to select this option from the pop-up window that appears.

Melanie Weir/Business Insider


4. Click Advanced.

How to password protect a folder 2

You can find this option at the bottom right of the new dialog box.

Melanie Weir/Business Insider


5. At the bottom of the Advanced Attributes menu that appears, check the box labeled “encrypt contents to secure data.”

How to password protect a folder 3

You can also compress your folder to reduce its size while encrypting it.

Melanie Weir/Business Insider


6. Click “OK.”

7. Upon returning to the main window, click “Apply.”

8. On the “Confirm Attribute Changes” window, choose between “Apply changes to this folder only” or “Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files.” 

How to password protect a folder 4

You can encrypt only the main folder or the subfolders and files contained within it.

Melanie Weir/Business Insider


9. Select “OK.”  

10. A notification prompting you to back up your file encryption key will appear. Click “Backup now.”

11. Insert a USB flash drive to your computer, and follow the on-screen instructions to create your encryption certificate and export to the USB drive.

Note: The final step is optional, but if you skip it, you run the risk of losing access to your encrypted files.

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