General Question

2davidc8's avatar

Can you encrypt a file in Win 7?

Asked by 2davidc8 (4607 points ) February 15th, 2012

I would like to encrypt a file before sending it out as an email attachment. Is this possible to do with Windows 7 Professional, or do I need to buy a separate encryption software? Even if it were possible with Win 7 Pro, would other software do a better job?

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12 Answers

jerv's avatar

There is plenty of free encryption software available.

I recommend some version of PGP, but it’s almost 2AM and I am not lucid enough to pick one out for you.

blueiiznh's avatar

Win7 has BitLocker Drive encyption built in.
Click start, and type bit locker in the search window
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd835565(v=ws.10).aspx

jerv's avatar

1) Only Enterprise and Ultimate do; those of us who use Home Premium are out of luck.

2) Bitlocker only works on disks, not individual files.

3) For full-disk encryption, Truecrypt is better. If nothing else, it isn’t as finicky about BIOS settings.

Lightlyseared's avatar

and 4) if your motherboard dies then you can’t access your files ever again as they are encrypted with the key one of the chips on the MB

2davidc8's avatar

Thanks, everyone, for your answers. I need to clarify that at this time I’m not looking to encrypt entire drives or disks. I just would like to encrypt a couple of individual files before I send them out as email attachments. I would like to do this in the simplest, easiest way possible, yet still safe. Per @jerv, too bad my version of Windows can’t do it, so I guess I should look for some kind of freeware or shareware?

@Lightlyseared Is the issue of the MB dying only with Truecrypt or with most encryption software?

HungryGuy's avatar

Unfortunately no, if you want individual file encryption. TrueCrypt has the best encryption, but you need to install it, and it’s a pain to use because you have to assign your encrypted folder its own drive letter each time you want to access it. 7zip is easy to use. But, again, the recipient has to have whichever program installed on their end to be able to open it.

Lightlyseared's avatar

It’s an issue with Bit locker. I was adding a fourth reason to @jervs list of reasons not to use bit locker. Bit locker use the trusted platform module (TPM) on the motherboard to encrypt the drive but this means only that specific TPM can decrypt the drive. If the MB fails you can’t access your files on another PC.

2davidc8's avatar

@Lightlyseared Ah, I see! Thank you for the explanation!

jerv's avatar

@HungryGuy At least 7zip is free.

HungryGuy's avatar

@jerv – True, that.

2davidc8's avatar

But isn’t there a way to encrypt a file using an encryption key, then send it to a recipient. And all the recipient would need is the key in order to decrypt it? Why can’t it be as simple as that? Naturally, the encrypted file and the key would have to be sent separately, but it sure would be nice to be able to do it this way

jerv's avatar

@2davidc8 You are thinking of something like PGP. One Windows program is GPG4WIN’, where GPG stands for Gnu Privacy Guard, and is free, GPL software that implements PGP under Windows.

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