How to Password Protect Files (free)

Download and install 7zip (link below). It’s a very small but useful program. It works by creating what’s called an archive and storing files inside it. It does not delete or replace the original files. Once it’s installed, simply right click on the file you wish to protect with a password, select “7-zip” and “add to archive”. A box with some options will pop up like the one in the picture. You can rename the archive whatever you want. Most of the default options are fine for every-day users. The two options we want to change are giving the archive a password (using characters that aren’t letters or numbers like “&” make for good, uncrackable passwords) and checking “encrypt file names.” Checking this option means no one will be able to see the names of the files inside the archive until AFTER the password is given. Now click “ok.”


Depending on the size of the file or files you are encrypting, this could take a while. But once it’s done there will be a new file ending with the extension “7z” in the folder where your original files are. You can delete or move the original files, as they are copied into the archive. To access your protected files just open the archive. If it doesn’t know which program to open it with yet, simply browse for the program “7zFM.exe” that’s usually in your “C:\Program Files\7-zip” directory. This will open the 7-zip file manager (see picture). Now you can open, edit, or delete files inside the directory as if it’s a normal folder (when changing a file it may ask if you want to update the file in the archive so select “yes”). To add more files to the archive, right click on the file you want to add and again select “7-zip” and “add to archive”. This time you’re not going to create a new archive so select the button by the name with the “…” and find your archive. Once it’s selected, click OK. You’ll be asked for the password again.


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