You may be curious about ensuring that data is safe if you have sensitive personal or professional information on your Windows computer, such as intellectual property. It is feasible for criminals to access the data on a laptop’s hard disk if it is lost or stolen. Your files and folders should be encrypted in Windows 10 as a fix.
Even if your computer is hacked, it will be much harder to steal your vital information if you encrypt the data on it. In this article, we’ll cover both native Windows capabilities and third-party programs that can be used to encrypt files & Folders on Windows
Should I encrypt anything?
You may choose to utilize encryption to safeguard the following types of data assets, although most individuals do so:
- Individually Identifying Information
- Tax statements
- Financial data and paperwork
- scans of identification papers like passports or licenses
- information about a privileged employer
- Informational property
In Windows, how can I encrypt my files and folders?
BitLocker, Microsoft Windows’ built-in Encrypting File System (EFS),are the two primary methods for encrypting data on a Windows computer. As an alternative, you may use a third-party encryption program.
You may also encrypt text files inside of Microsoft Office, including Word documents and PDFs, if that is what you want to accomplish. Additionally, Excel databases may be encrypted if you wish to. We’ll guide you through some of the most often-used techniques for computer encryption below.
Utilizing the built-in Encrypting File System in Windows to encrypt
Using Windows’ inbuilt encryption tool is the simplest and quickest method to safely encrypt data on your hard disk. The File Encryption Key is a safe symmetric encryption method used by Windows’ Encrypting File System (EFS) (FEK). Any files you need to safeguard may be encrypted using this quick and secure method, regardless of their size.
The best way to activate Windows Encrypting Files System (EFS)
You can immediately encrypt data if you have a suitable version of Windows 10. However, there are two things you must complete before moving on:
Ensure a strong, difficult-to-crack password is set up for your Windows user account. Your user account must have a password to utilize EFS, and if the password is weak, someone with physical access to the computer may be able to brute force it. Make sure your user password is vital since it will determine how secure your file encryption is.
Purchase a USB thumb drive to store the backup key. A loss of account access you will still be able to view your encrypted files, thanks to this.
Password managers are helpful if you want to password-protect your papers since they can create lengthy, complicated passwords and store them safely. For a list of the top services and information on the benefits and drawbacks of using one, see our post on the best password managers.
After completing the necessary basic preparation tasks, you can activate EFS for specific files or folders. Follow these easy steps to achieve it:
- Open File Explorer by performing right-clicking on your Start button.
- Start by right-clicking and selecting “Open File Explorer.”
- In your file manager, find the file or folder you want to encrypt.
- Find the file that needs to be encrypted.
- Place a right-click on the file or folder, then choose Properties.
- select properties
- Click Advanced under the General tab.
- Tap the advanced tab.
- To safeguard data, choose the checkbox next to Encrypt contents.
- Contents encryption checkbox
- Select OK.
- Tap Apply.
When asked, pick the folder you’d want to encrypt, as well as any subfolders and files inside it. Then, a window will appear.
Choose between applying changes to this folder alone or this folder, subfolders, and files.
- Verify the changes
- Select OK.
- The encrypted file or folder should have a tiny padlock icon in the top-right corner.
- Keep a backup key.
You’ll see a new icon in the system tray, bottom right of your screen, after Windows EFS has encrypted its first file. To backup, your key, click it.
- Alert to make sure you have a copy of your file’s encryption keys
- If you’re using a Windows laptop, plug in your USB flash drive.
- In the system tray, click the EFS icon.
- Now click “Back up” (recommended).
- currently, backup (recommended)
- Click Next on the Certificate Export Wizard.
- On the Export File Format page, leave everything and click Next.
- File format export window
- Tick the box next to the password on the security screen, then enter a password. It must be entered twice for it to be verified as the correct password.
- Put your password in.
- Choose Next.
- Select your USB flash drive by clicking Browse on the next screen.
- Now enter EFSKey in the filename box by clicking it. (Or provide your preferred name for the file.)
- Press Save.
- Choose Next.
- To finish, click.
- Select OK.
Keep the USB drive secure after exporting the backup key. You may use the key to decrypt your computer’s data if you find yourself locked out of your Windows user account.
BitLocker file encryption in Windows
A proprietary full-volume encryption technology for Windows called BitLocker enables users to safely encrypt their whole hard disk. Because users cannot encrypt individual files and folders while their operating system is running, BitLocker differs from EFS. Users will need EFS or a third-party encryption solution for this kind of encryption.
BitLocker is recommended for anybody who wants to be absolutely certain that their whole hard drive is encrypted each and every time they log out of Windows and shut down their computer.
But usually, customers need Full Disk Encryption (FDE) for the following reasons:
Some customers want FDE to adhere to rules that may result in penalties if customer data on their system is compromised or a computer is stolen.
To prevent access to critical and vital corporate data if a laptop is stolen or lost.
BitLocker reduces the likelihood of valuable data being retrieved from outdated or lost hard disks.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is the encryption used by BitLocker, and its user-configurable vital lengths are 128 or 256 bits. Because BitLocker is a powerful encryption technology, BitLocker-protected hard drives will remain safe from hackers.
Step-by-step instructions on using BitLocker to encrypt a hard drive
You may use BitLocker to encrypt your hard disk if you have Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise version. Once configured, BitLocker enables you to unlock your hard disk using a USB dongle or a password. Both options are available, but if you want a physical key, you must purchase a USB thumb drive before configuring BitLocker.
Look for a chip called a Trusted Platform Module.
Verify that your computer has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip before configuring BitLocker. This unique microchip allows your device to implement cutting-edge security measures. If your laptop needs a TPM, you may still utilize BitLocker via software-based encryption, but this method is less secure and takes more time to set up. Easily verify whether you have one by saying:
When simultaneously pressing the Windows and x keys, choose Device Manager.
- Choose “Device Manager”
- Check to determine whether you have a TPM chip by expanding Security Devices and looking like the picture below. To support BitLocker, your computer must have a TPM chip version 1.2 or later.
- Search for security equipment.
- Install BitLocker
You may set up BitLocker now that you’ve tested for a TPM chip:
- Go to your Control Panel by navigating.
- Dispatch box opened
- Select Security and System.
- Click Manage BitLocker after seeing BitLocker Drive Encryption.
- choose BitLocker Drive management
- Choose Turn BitLocker On.
- Activate BitLocker
- Choose from Insert a USB flash drive or Enter a password.
- Put your password in.
- You must still input a password even if you use a USB dongle. Click Next after entering it.
Options for saving a recovery key will be presented to you. Using this key, you may still access your encrypted hard drive if you need to remember your password. Options consist of:
- To your Microsoft account to save
- Save the file to a USB drive
- Publish to a file
- the recovery key on paper
- Next once you’ve made your selection.
- Choose an encryption method. Choose Next.
- Either the whole disk or only the utilized space may be encrypted.
- Choose an encryption method.
- Select Compatible mode (best for portable devices) or New encryption mode (better for internal, fixed hard drives), then click Next.
- Select the box next to “Run BitLocker system” and click “Continue.”
- Start BitLocker
Restarting your computer at this point will finish the setup.
BitLocker will prompt you to either insert your USB flash drive and input a password or enter the password you created to unlock your hard disk when the machine starts up.
Each of the applications mentioned above serves a different purpose. You may find tutorials and tips on their own websites to assist you in encrypting your data. So, if you want to utilize a specific encryption system in a particular software, you’ll need to perform some homework on that program beforehand.