Many people are willing to pay for file encryption programs but did you know Windows has had built in file encryption capabilities since Windows XP? In the age of cyber attacks and making personal files accessible via the internet, file encryption is more important than ever. If you were to lose your laptop, a password may protect your information but if the person who finds your laptop takes out your hard drive and looks at it through an operating system that doesn’t use Microsoft’s account security, they may still have access to your files. In this guide, you will learn how to encrypt your files in Windows. See this guide for XP.
Note: Windows file encryption is available in Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. Learn how to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 7 Professional
Encrypt Your Files
To encrypt your files, do the following:
1. Right-click the file folder you wish to encrypt and click Properties.
2. In the Properties dialog, click Advanced…
3. Check Encrypt contents to secure data and click OK
4. If you are encrypting a folder, you will be asked if you want to apply the encryption to subfolders. This is useful if you want to protect the whole tree under the folder you are encrypting.
Your files will now be encrypted.
Notice the file or folder names are now green–this provides an easy way to show the data is encrypted.
Decrypt Your Files
If you want to decrypt your files or folders so they can be accessed on a different computer, simply follow the steps above and uncheck Encrypt contents to secure data.
Back Up Your Private Encryption Key
If you move your files to a new computer, operating system, or user account, you will need the private key to access your files. To backup the key after encrypting your files, do the following:
1. After encrypting your files for the first time, and icon should appear in the system tray. Double click on it.
2. Click Back up now (recommended).
3. On the Certificate Export Wizard, click Next
4. Choose Personal Information Exchange and click Next.
5. Type a password and click Next.
6. Save your encryption key.
7. Click Finish.
You will be notified that the certificate export is successful.
8. Back up the certificate for later use.
Your files and certificate are now protected.