How Can I Encrypt Drives, Folders, and Files in Windows 10

This tutorial is for Windows 10 users only.

Among the best ways to safeguard your privacy would be to encrypt important information on your PC. Whether you will need to send private information to someone, or just want to be certain that no one that gets access to a computer can see things you’d rather keep private, encryption is the best way to go.

As a Windows 10 user, you have many options for encrypting information. In this guide, we’ll show you ways to encrypt individual files, file folders, and even whole disk drives. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks, so we’ll cover those, also. That way, you will get a better sense of which type of encryption you’ll need for a variety of situations.

As the title of this tutorial says, now let us dive deep into encryption at drives, folder, and file levels.

Drive level encryption

Hard disk or drive encryption protects the whole drive at once. To use a device with an encrypted hard disk you would have to enter the password key once you logged on, or nothing as the disc will be reachable.

This sort of encryption is a great first line of defense in the event of theft. If someone stole your notebook or ripped the drives from one of your servers, then they would have to defeat the hard drive encryption to find any data whatsoever.

It’s still possible to use folder-level encryption and individual file encryption into an encrypted disc.

Directory or Folder level encryption

Next up is folder level encryption. This strategy involves encrypting everything that’s kept in a folder. Passwords or keys are assigned to the folder, not individual files.

 

Folder encryption is an excellent organizational tool. By way of instance, you could create a unique encrypted folder for every member of your loved ones. Give Nadia just the password for her folder, and John just the password for his, and each can have their own personal space on the exact same device.

 

Note that storing a document in an encrypted folder will not keep you from also encrypting files separately.

File Protection at Individual level

As its name suggests, individual file encryption refers to encrypting one file at a time. Each document has its own password or key.

Individual file encryption is terrific for files you want to share or store in the cloud. Windows 10 users can encrypt individual files with a tool like 7-zip. You can even encrypt individual Microsoft Office files from inside their programs, although it is better suited to casual individual usage than protection against severe adversaries.

The Way to encrypt files and folders on Windows 10

Your choices for encrypting files and folders on Windows 10 devices depend on which version of Windows 10 you’ve got. Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users have an integrated encryption tool called the Encrypting File System (EFS). Any Windows 10 user, such as those with the Home edition, may also utilize third-party apps like 7-zip for file and folder protection.

 

Beyond these options, Microsoft Office programs have a simple file locking / encryption feature built in, as does Adobe Acrobat.

How to encrypt files and folders with the Encrypting File System (EFS)

Before you start encrypting with EFS, a few things to note:

  • EFS only works on drives formatted with NTFS.
  • If you move an EFS-encrypted file into a disc formatted with FAT32 or exFAT, it becomes encoded.
  • If you move an EFS-encrypted file across a network or send it using an email message, then it becomes encoded.
Steps to Encrypt files/folder with EFS in Windows 10

Step 1:

Open Windows File Explorer and browse to the folder or file that you wish to encrypt using EFS.

Step 2:

Right-click the folder or file that you wish to encrypt.

Step 3

From the menu which appears, choose Properties.

Step 4

From the General tab of Properties, locate and click on the Advanced button (it’s circled in red in the next picture).

windows file encrypt

Step 5

From the Advanced Attributes dialog box which appears, place the Encrypt contents to secure data checkbox.

windows file encrypt

Finally, press OK and you are done!

 

The Way to encrypt Windows 10 Folders and Files using 7-zip

We have assumed that you have installed the 7-zip. Now follow these steps:

Step 1

Right-click the folder or file you want to encrypt.

Step 2

From the shortcut menu that appears, select 7-Zip, then Add to archive…. This opens the Add to Archive window.

windows encrypt 7 zip

Step 3

From the Archive area, enter the title for the archive file you will produce.

Step 4

From the Archive format list, select zip.

Step 5

From the Encryption section of this window, enter a strong password in the Input field, and again in the Reenter password area.

Step 6

From the Encryption Method list, select AES-256.

Step 7

Select OK. This generates the encrypted archive, which appears in exactly the exact same folder as the folder or file you encrypted.

That’s it!

The result of encrypting something with 7-zip how we did here is a zipped archive that’s AES-256 encrypted. This archive appears in exactly the same folder as the folder or file that you encrypted, alongside the first folder or file. What this means to you depends on what you intend to do with the encrypted file or folder.

The Way to encrypt hard drives on Windows 10

In regards to disk encryption on Windows 10, BitLocker Device Encryption is the tool that Microsoft provides. Built into Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise, BitLocker Device Encryption does just what it sounds like — it encrypts all of the storage devices in your system.

BitLocker Device Encryption

Learn more about it on the Microsoft website here.