Everyone has sensitive data, the content of which is not necessarily intended for the public. Therefore, if in doubt, it’s good to know how to password protect a folder in Windows 10. On the one hand, this allows you to fend off weak cyberattacks, which, for example, can be traced back to unwanted third party programs. On the other hand, you might want to encrypt important folders if nosy relatives have general access to your device.
However, it is anything but trivial to learn how to password protect a folder in Windows 10 without an external program to help you out. You won’t find a corresponding option in the folder properties, neither under Sharing nor under Security. There is only the hint that users generally have to have the password for your PC to get access to the data. Even the Pro version of Windows 10 does not promise any remedy in this regard.
Nevertheless, there are of course certain ways how you can password protect folders and encrypt all files in the there, even in Windows 10. In this post, we will introduce you to two of the best alternatives below.
How to Password Protect a Folder in Windows 10?
First, let’s get into the packing program. Strictly speaking, this does not lock the folder itself, but only its contents:
Encrypt Windows 10 Folders with 7-Zip
7-Zip is a free open source software and is one of the most popular packing programs for data compression. You can find the download directly on the manufacturer’s page. If you often download large amounts of data from the Internet, you probably already have the application installed anyway. Or you can use an alternative like WinRAR, which can also encrypt Windows 10 folders.
To quickly learn how to password protect a folder in Windows 10, follow these steps with 7-Zip:
- After right-clicking on the folder, 7-Zip should appear as a selection after correct installation. Click on it.
- Then select Add to archive. A window with many different settings will open.
- You are only interested in the Encryption tab on the right side. There you enter the desired password in the first text field and confirm it in the second text field below.
- Click OK to complete the process.
This works with Windows 7 or higher. After packing, you should delete the original files. If someone then wants to extract the contents of the folder, this can only be done by entering the correct password.
If this seems too cumbersome, you can also protect your folders with a one-time additional effort thanks to BitLocker:
Password Protect a Folder in Windows 10 via BitLocker
Microsoft represents on all its popular operating systems’ philosophy that a user account should only be used by one person. Knowing how to password protect individual folders in Windows 10 would be superfluous in this case, since no third-party access is possible. If, for example, your spouse wants to access your PC, you create a new user for this purpose. If your access remains secret, you logically do not need to encrypt any folders.
With BitLocker encryption already pre-installed in Windows 10, you can still password protect drives and their folders:
- In Windows Explorer (Windows logo key + E) under This PC, right-click on the drive you want to encrypt and select Enable BitLocker. BitLocker starts in a new window.
- As a method to unlock the drive, you decide on a password, which you type in and confirm immediately. This will take you to the final step.
- But before that, the wizard should offer you to create a recovery key. We strongly advise you to do this, because this key will save you in case you ever lose or forget your password.
- Now you have to specify if you want to encrypt your entire drive and if the new encryption mode is sufficient. You only need to use the compatible mode if you do not work exclusively with Windows 10.
- The so-called BitLocker system check is a test run that detects possible problems.
- After a reboot, you’ll have password protected a folder in Windows 10 and even the drive your data is on.
BitLocker only for Windows 10 Pro
In the future, you will have to release the protected network by entering the password every time you start the computer. This protection will be renewed every time you shut down your machine. Advanced users can also first create another partition (or shrink an existing one) and then secure it with a password.
Now you know how to password protect a folder in Windows 10. However, never use a passcode that shows up elsewhere (such as on your Microsoft account) to have a folder encrypted. Or at least change your Windows account in advance. If you have basic problems with your internal or external drives, it might be worth taking a look at our tutorials. For example, we show you in detail how to best proceed if your second hard disk is not showing up.