How to Easily Encrypt Files in Windows

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In a previous post I showed you an excellent tool, called Mailvelope, for plain-text email encryption that can be used with Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, GMX, etc. However, at the moment it is not possible to encrypt attachments using this tool. But encrypting attachments and files in Windows can be a very simple task as well.

To encrypt files in Windows, all you need is 7-Zip — a free and open source file archiving tool.

Download either the 32-bit or the 64-bit version depending on what kind of Windows you are using. If you are not sure how to check your Windows type, click here.

The installation process is straightforward even for an absolute beginner.

Archiving and Encrypting Files

After the installation is done, you have several ways to encrypt your files.

You can launch 7-Zip and select the files for encryption within its window.

You can launch Windows Explorer (Win+E), select the files there, then right-click on any of the selected files, and select 7-Zip > Add to archive… from the drop-down menu.

Or, in case you wish to add a large number of files to your encrypted archive, you can create a folder, copy all relevant files to it, and then right-click on the folder’s icon, and select 7-Zip > Add to archive… from the drop-down menu.

In each case you end up in the Add to Archive window of 7-Zip.

7-zip-encryption

In it, give your archive a name and a password. Then click OK to create the archive.

Remember, that your password should be strong.

Now you can send your sensitive files safely as email attachments or leave them anywhere — nobody will be able to access them without the correct password.

Extracting and Decrypting Files

Extracting files from a zip archive is just as easy.

Double-click on the zip archive. 7-Zip will open the archive for you. Note, that even though the archive is encrypted, you can see all the file names.

Click on the Extract button in 7-Zip’s window. Select the folder where you wish to extract the file and then click OK.

Now enter the correct password for the archive and click OK again.

7-zip-decryption

Additional Benefits of 7-Zip

There are also some additional benefits to creating a zip archive.

First of all, you save some hard drive space.

Second, your files will be in one place. In Windows, files, even if they are put in a folder are not in the same place on your hard drive. To collect them into one place, you need to create a container for them — and that is exactly what 7-Zip does. It creates a zip container.

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