General Question

rojo's avatar

Does anyone know a way to secure an individual file in Windows so that access is by password only?

Asked by rojo (22066points) October 6th, 2011

I am trying to keep a single file private on a computer used by several people.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

13 Answers

blueiiznh's avatar

What version of Windows. 3.1, 95, 98, ME, Bob, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, Win7,

It makes a difference…

rojo's avatar

Sorry, Win 7.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The most secure way would be to put it on a USB stick and keep it with you at all times. Everything else can be compromised eventually.

Brian1946's avatar

I have Windows XP, but perhaps the following procedure is also applicable to 7:

Open the file.

Starting at the top of the document: Tools > Options > Security > Password to open.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Compress it in a password protected rar file, that should be secure enough.

CWOTUS's avatar

I followed the Q from the start just to see if anyone would come up with surefire remedies, because I sure don’t know of any.

I think @Lightlyseared has the best idea. “Security” on most personal computers is a moving target. What works in some offices (on some computers) and with some people won’t be effective elsewhere. I don’t know about Office 10, for example, but if you have a file that is “password protected” in Excel, I can probably open it as quickly without the password as you can with it. Maybe that has been improved.

Microsoft Access, on the other hand, has somewhat better security. But if I want to spend the $5 for a shareware program on the Net (which I have already tested and verified in its “free” version), I can get into that, too.

If you want it to be private, keep it to yourself.

bobby78's avatar

You should search youtube for “password protect folder tutorial”, it’s pretty basic ;)

Lightlyseared's avatar

@CWOTUS there used to be a porgram to strip the encryption off older Word files. It didn’t do anything clever it just brute forced the password and because MS had used an old encrption alogrithm (DES i think) it could decrypt files in under a second. It was so fast the programmer had put in a wait command to slow it down just so that it looked like it was actually doing something.

Mariah's avatar

I know how to password protect a word or excel file, if it’s that. Otherwise, I don’t know.

blueiiznh's avatar

Thanks for providing the OS

If you state you have multiple users, if it is in a corporate environment the IT department can provide you a private share that only you have access to.

Some applications allow you to password lock them.

The lazy mans way if to zip the file and password protect the zip. Then when you want to use it, unzip it with the password and have at it.

No, you can’t use a password to protect files and folders in Windows. However, some programs that run on Windows do allow you to protect individual files by using a password.
There are other ways to protect your files and folders in Windows. You can encrypt your files, manually specify who can access the folders or files, or hide them. Choose your method based on how secure the folders or files need to be. Encrypting is the most secure, while hiding the folders is the least secure.

Encrypting folders and files is a way to protect them from unwanted access. Encrypting File System (EFS) is a feature of Windows that you can use to store information on your hard disk in an encrypted format. Encryption is the strongest protection that Windows provides to help you keep your information secure.

More info on some 3rd party add-ons, but if it is a corporate PC, you would need to still run it past IT.

njnyjobs's avatar

What kind of file is it? As previously mentioned, MS Office Suite files (Word, Excel, etc.) have built in password protection features. Same with Legacy Lotus Suite files (Wordpro, Amipro, Lotus 123, Approach). PDF files can also be password protected.

For media files, such as pictures, graphics, music, video, etc… zipping it is one way of locking it out.

Please indicate the file extension or file type for a definitive answer.

koanhead's avatar

Please don’t share user accounts. It will eventually lead to heartache.
If this is your computer, you can easily create accounts for all the users of the computer. If it is someone else’s computer, you should ask them kindly to create an account for your use.
This is what user accounts are for. Sharing files by default is not best practice.

More details at

I know that this is technically not a direct answer to the question, but seriously folks, don’t do this stuff. It’s not the Eighties any more- security is important, and it’s everyone’s business.

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