I saw your earlier article about how to create a Zip archive in Windows 10. Easy. But what if I want to have the archive password protected?
Used to be that creating an encrypted or password-protected Zip archive on a Windows machine was a breeze, but somewhere along the way on the journey from Windows XP to Win7 to Vista to 8 to Windows 10 that feature vanished. Not sure what motivated Microsoft to take out something so darn useful, particular compared to all the daft features it’s added in the evolution of the Windows OS, but we just get to live with the decisions, right?
Anyway, if you’re running an older version of Windows, check the Properties window once you’ve created an archive [read this quick primer: Create a Zip Archive in Windows 10] and if it has “password” you’re in luck. Add one, and you’ve just encrypted your archive. Congrats!
If that’s not the case – and it’s probably not, sad to say – then you’ll need to actually install a third party program to accomplish the task. The program’s called 7-Zip and it’s free. You can grab and download a copy here: 7-zip.org. Easy enough, actually.
With that installed, right-click on a file or set of files and your set of choices will have expanded:
As you can see, there’s an entire submenu for “7-Zip” and though it’s labeled “Add to archive…” that’s also your choice to create an archive from scratch. Choose it and a window will pop up:
There are a number of areas to explore, but let’s start out with the top left. Change your archive format to “zip” so it’s maximally portable across different operating systems and devices. I also like to enable compression to have the resultant archive be as small as possible. And, of course, you’ll want to enter the encryption password. Conveniently, you can choose to have the password shown to ensure you type it in correctly.
All set up, here’s the configuration I’m going to use for my demo encrypted and compressed Win10 Zip archive:
Great password, eh? 🙂
Click OK on the very bottom and it’ll quick zip up all the files, folders, photos, and other content into a single encrypted Zip archive file. The resultant icon looks the same whether it’s encrypted or not, however:
Where things get interesting is when you double click to open up the Zip file, them try to actually unpack a file. Suddenly a prompt appears for the password:
Relatively easy to do once you have 7-Zip installed. I should note that the filenames are not encrypted or hidden from curious eyes unless you opt for the “Encrypt File Names” option within 7-Zip’s configuration screen.