How to password protect a folder in Windows 10, to keep your files safe from prying eyes

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderYou can password protect a folder in Windows 10 using a program called WinRar.

  • Knowing how to password protect a folder in Windows 10 allows you a degree of protection from the people you share your computer with – or from someone stealing your hard drive.
  • As the name implies, password-protected folders require a password to be opened.
  • Once you’ve locked a Windows 10 folder, you can open the folder at any time, but only if you know the current password.
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If you have sensitive information stored on a Windows computer that you share with others, or on a laptop that you’re worried could be stolen, you’ll need to keep your data safe.

This is when password protecting a folder can offer you peace of mind, in exchange for a little inconvenience.

You can password protect folders in Windows 10 so that you’ll need to enter a code whenever you open it.

Make sure you remember your password – password-protected folders don’t come with any sort of recovery method if you forget. It might be useful to write down a hint for yourself. You could also make a backup, and keep that somewhere else, like on a flash drive.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Windows 10 Home, available at Best Buy, $US134.99

How to password protect a folder in Windows 10

Unfortunately, Windows 10 doesn’t come with password-protection as a built-in feature – meaning that you’ll have to use third-party software.

WinRar is a file compression and encryption tool that’s available for free from their website in 32- and 64-bit versions.

To know whether you’re running 32- or 64-bit Windows, press the Windows icon at the bottom left of your screen and search “System.” It will be listed in your System summary, under “System type.”

Ross James/Business InsiderUse ‘System type’ to confirm what version of Windows you’re running.

1. Install the WinRar version that’s appropriate for your computer.

2. With WinRar installed, you should have new options available when you right-click folders. We’re looking for “Add to Archive.”

Ross James/Business InsiderYou should see these options if Winrar has been installed correctly.

3. This will create a new, smaller file that contains the exact contents of the original folder. A menu will also open – select “Set password” at the bottom-right of this menu.

4. A new pop-up will open. Check the box marked “Encrypt file names.” Enter the password you want for this folder. WinRar will ask you to repeat it, to make sure you didn’t make a mistake.

Ross James/Business InsiderMaking a password-protected archive file.

5. Click “OK” in both menus, and you’ll be done. This will leave you with your original folder, and a .rar file that’s locked with a password – you’ll need to keep WinRar on your computer to open it. When the new .rar file is made, you can delete the original folder.

Note, however, that if you password protect a folder that has a program in it, you won’t be able to open that program without taking it – and all of the files it needs to run – out of the locked folder.

If you’ve saved something like a Word document, and later update it, you should save the new version outside the locked folder, and then drag-and-drop it in. You can then overwrite the old version.

WinRar is the best free program for this task. Your next best option is to use commercial software like Folder Guard or Protected Folder, though these come with a price tag attached.

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