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

Westend61/Getty ImagesIt’s easy to password protect a folder in Windows 10.
  • To password protect a folder in Windows 10, you’ll need to open the folder’s “Properties” menu.
  • There’s no way to recover a folder’s password if you forget it, so make sure you write the password down somewhere.
  • Before you password protect a folder, you should copy the files within to an external hard drive or other source, so you can still access them if you lose the password.
  • You can only password protect folders in the Pro version of Windows 10 – it’s not available in Windows 10 Home.
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In nearly all cases, you can only access folders on a Windows computer once you’re logged into your user account. But if multiple people use the same account on your computer – maybe you share it with your family – this leaves your folders open for snooping.

There’s dozens of apps that let you encrypt your folders. But luckily, Windows offers its own built-in options for password protecting folders.

It’s totally free and easy to password protect a folder in Windows. However, there are a few downsides.

The first is that you need to be running Windows 10 Pro – Home version won’t let you. The second is that once you set the password, there’s no way to recover it if you forget it.

Here’s how to password protect a folder on your PC.

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How to password protect a folder in Windows

1. Open Windows Explorer and find the folder you want to password protect, and then right-click on it.

2. Select “Properties.”

How to password protect a folder 1Melanie Weir/Business InsiderYou need to select this option from the pop-up window that appears.

3. Click “Advanced.”

How to password protect a folder 2Melanie Weir/Business InsiderYou can find this option at the bottom right of the new dialog box.

4. At the bottom of the Advanced Attributes menu that appears, check the box labelled “Encrypt contents to secure data.”

How to password protect a folder 3Melanie Weir/Business InsiderYou can also compress your folder to reduce its size while encrypting it.

5. Click “OK.”

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

7. 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 4Melanie Weir/Business InsiderYou can encrypt only the main folder or the subfolders and files contained within it.

8. Select “OK.”

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

10. 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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