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How to Encrypt and Decrypt Files and Folders in Windows 7/8/8.1/10

Encrypting files and folders add an extra layer of protection to your vital information. It helps you to keep data safe from hackers and snooping eyes. Let’s discuss some easy ways on how to encrypt and decrypt a folder and a file in windows.

The cases of stealing information and hacking online accounts are increasing. As per one online survey conducted on August 10, 2017, with 1,020 respondents – “Around 32% of US consumers’ online accounts had been hacked”.

This is a kind of alarm to others that it is better to secure your data from such malicious attacks.

Fortunately, there are several effective ways you can go for to secure your data in windows files and folders. Encryption is one of the strongest safety feature provided by windows. It is a process of converting simple plain text into cipher text.

The best thing about the encrypting files and folders is that you can make them password protected and the information stay protected even if the hard drive removed from your computer and attached to some other PC.

So, let’s dig out some easy ways on how to encrypt a file and folder & how to decrypt a file and folder in windows. We will also discuss encryption certificates/keys.

How to Encrypt a Folder and File in Windows 7/8/8.1?

Thanks to windows for providing a built-in feature called Encrypting File System (EFS). It makes encryption and decryption very easy for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users.

Follow below steps to encrypt a folder and file;

#Step1 – Right click on the folder you want to encrypt and then click on the “Properties”.

#Step2 – Click on “General” tab and click on the “Advance”.

#Step3 – Checkmark this option “Encrypt contents to secure data” and click ok.

That’s it! You have encrypted your file or folder. The name of protected file and folder with EFS displayed with green color.

Important Precaution

Windows EFS automatically generates certificate containing keys used to encrypt and decrypt the data.

Decryption of encrypted files with the same login account or system is pretty easy and transparent.

However, it is almost not possible to access the same data using another system, different logins, or if the file location changed. In such case, it requires original certificate and keys to access the data containing in the encrypted file or folder.

Thus, it is always advisable to back up your file encryption certificate and key.

It helps you to access your protected data anytime anywhere.

Follow below steps to back up your encryption certificate/key;

  • Click on the start menu and search for “certificate” or “certmgr.msc”
  • Click to open the “Manage user certificates”
  • Expand the “Personal” folder showing on the left side and click on the “Certificates”
  • Now, you can see all the certificates on the right side.
  • You need to back up only those certificates listed with Encrypted File System under “Intended Purposes”.
  • Right click on the certificate and select All Task > Export.
  • It will take you to the “Welcome to the Certificate Export Wizard”, you need to click Next.
  • In the following screen, you need to select “Yes, export the private key”
  • Next screen will ask for the export file format. We suggest to keep the default selection as it is and choose the strong password.
  • The last step is to select the location you want to save it and you are done with the backing up EFS certificate or key.

Pro Tip: Do not save the EFS key on your computer itself, instead save to some other place like in your personal USB device or something similar. It protects your back up even if your PC failed or damaged.

How to Decrypt a File and Folder in Windows 7/8/8.1?

Decryption seems like a reverse process of encryption. To decrypt encrypted files and folders follow the below steps;

#Step1 – Right click on the folder you want to decrypt and then click on the “Properties”.

#Step2 – Click on the “General” tab and then click the “Advance” option.

#Step3 – Uncheck “Encrypt contents to secure data” option and click on the ok.

Now, an encrypted green color text of a file or folder will turn into normal black after the decryption.

How to Encrypt and Decrypt a File or Folder in Windows 10 Using Command Prompt?

Well, the process of encryption and decryption using command prompt in windows 10 is pretty easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Check steps below;

#Step1 – Open the “Run” search bar and search for “CMD”.

#Step2 – Once command prompt open, change the working directories to the folder where files are placed.

#Step3 – Now, type cipher /E and hit Enter button. Command Prompt will automatically encrypt the files and folder.

Your data is now safe and no one can access it from another account.

To decrypt a file or folder in Windows 10 using a command prompt, you just need to type cipher /D after changing all the working directories. The command prompt will automatically decrypt your data which is now accessible by anyone.

In brief, encryption and decryption of data is the very easy way to secure your important information. Hope you find our guide on how to encrypt and decrypt a file or folder in windows PC useful. Don’t forget to share with others on social media.

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