File encryption isn’t something that’s unheard of, and many users use it to prevent unauthorized access. If you have ZIP files stored on your computer containing sensitive information, you wouldn’t want anyone else to open and view the contents of the files. In such cases, you’ll need to password protect your ZIP files. Typically, an archive can be extracted or opened by anyone, but you’ll be prompted to type in the password to view any of the files stored in it when it’s encrypted. ZIP encryption would be essential when dealing with work-related files that you’re sharing around with your colleagues or any other confidential data.
If you’re someone who uses Windows 10’s native ZIP utility, we’d like to point out that you cannot use it to protect ZIP files with a password. Hence, you’ll need to rely on a third-party archiver like WinRAR, 7-Zip, or WinZip to get it done. Here, we’ll be making use of all these applications and guide you on how to password protect a ZIP file in Windows 10.
Method 1. Password Protect A ZIP File using 7-ZIP in Windows 10
We’ll start with 7-Zip, which is an extremely popular open-source file archiver. If you make use of this tool on your Windows 10 computer, this one’s for you. So, let’s get started:
Step 1. First, use File Explorer to locate the files that you want to encrypt. Select them and right-click to bring up the context menu. Choose ‘7-Zip’ and then click on ‘Add to archive’ as shown below.
Step 2. This will open up a new window giving you access to all the archive options. Under the Encryption section, type in your preferred password, re-enter to verify and click on ‘OK.’
That’s it. You’ve successfully created an encrypted ZIP file. Unfortunately, you cannot use 7-Zip to password protect an existing ZIP file on Windows 10. Therefore, if you have a ZIP file, extract the contents first and then proceed with these steps. Or, you can make use of other file archivers that provide this feature, like the ones that we’re about to discuss.
Method 2. Password Protect A ZIP File using WinZip in Windows 10
WinZip is one of the oldest file archiving utilities out there and still preferred by many Windows users for compressing and decompressing files. Unlike 7-Zip, WinZip allows you to password protect an existing ZIP file with ease. Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1. Right-click on the ZIP file that you want to password protect to bring up the context menu, hover the cursor over WinZip and then choose ‘Encrypt’ as shown here.
Step 2. This will immediately open a new window where you can type in your desired password. Re-enter the password for confirmation and then click on ‘OK’ to password protect the existing ZIP.
Step 3. If you don’t have a ZIP yet, open WinZip and then drag and drop all the files you want to encrypt. Once added, head over to the ‘Tools’ menu.
Step 4. Now, click on ‘Encrypt’ to bring up the password menu. Enter the details and then try to close out of WinZip.
Step 5. You’ll be prompted to save your changes. Click on ‘Save,’ and you’re good to go.
There you go. You’ve successfully password protected the ZIP file on Windows 10. You can confirm the encryption by attempting to extract or view the archive contents on your computer.
Method 3. Password Protect A ZIP File using WinRAR in Windows 10
Moving on to the last method, we’ll look at WinRAR, which is arguably the most widely used file archiving tool on Windows 10 devices. Just like WinZip, WinRAR allows you to encrypt an existing ZIP file or create an encrypted archive from scratch. Let’s check out the steps:
Step 1. Right-click on an existing ZIP or RAR file and choose ‘Open with WinRAR’ from the context menu.
Step 2. Once WinRAR open, click on ‘Tools’ from the menu bar and choose ‘Convert archives’ from the dropdown menu.
Step 3. This will launch a new window within WinRAR, giving you access to more options for the ZIP file you’re about to convert. Here, click on ‘Compression’ to proceed.
Step 4. You’ll now get access to compression options. Here, click on the ‘Set Password’ option to proceed.
Step 5. Enter the password of your choice, re-enter to verify and click on ‘OK.’ This will take you to the previous menu. Click on OK again.
Step 6. You’ll be prompted to confirm whether you want to encrypt converted archives. Select ‘Yes’ and then click on OK in the Convert Archives window to create the password protected ZIP file.
That’s how you can use WinRAR to ZIP a folder with a password in Windows 10. However, if you don’t have an existing ZIP archive, you can right-click on the files you want to encrypt and choose ‘Add to archive’ from the context menu to bring up the WinRAR options where you can set a password.
Bonus: How to Open A Password-protected ZIP File without Password
When you’re dealing with password-protected ZIP files, you’re likely to run into instances where you forget your ZIP password, and you’re unable to access the contents of the file. Fortunately, there’s no need to worry if you come across this problem. You can take advantage of this handy ZIP password recovery tool called PassFab for ZIP to unlock the password for all kinds of encrypted ZIP files without losing data. The software claims to rely on three different techniques: brute-force attack, brute-force with mask attack, and dictionary attack, to recover your lost or forgotten password.
We covered three of the most popular file archivers for password protecting your ZIP files. Each of the methods that we discussed here has some advantage over the other. For instance, using 7-Zip would be the quickest way to create a new password-protected ZIP file on Windows 10, but it cannot be used to password protect an existing ZIP file. For that use alone, WinZip would be the fastest. Although we were focusing on ZIP files in this particular article, we’d like to point out that you can follow the same steps to password protect RAR files. All three applications support the proprietary RAR format with no issues.
Hopefully, you were able to finally learn how to password protect your ZIP files before sharing confidential information with other people. Which file archiver do you primarily use on your computer? And, which one of the methods that we covered here is your personal favorite? Do you know any unique ways to secure ZIP files with a password? If so, feel free to share your knowledge with us and make sure to leave your valuable feedback in the comments section down below.