How To: Protect your data in Windows

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Since most people will have important information in their computers, it is vital to know how to protect one’s data. This holds especially true for people that share their computers with others or business computers that got to have password protected files for security purposes. There are various ways to protect your files, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

1. Encrypted archives

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A very easy way to both encrypt and compress your files is to download 7-Zip. When you download and install it, you can simply create a new archive, add files and then set a password. The files in the archive will only be accessible by people who know that password. You can also add more files at any given point in the same archive to protect them.

2. Document protection

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If you are storing important information on a document or if you simply want no one to access and edit your documents without your permission, then you can easily set a password for them. In Microsoft Office 2007 you will need to click on the Office logo of the left top corner and then go to the Prepare tab. On later versions, you will need to click on the File menu and you will find the password protection option in the Info tab. Simply set a password and any time someone tries to open the document they will have to insert it.

3. Windows features

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If you are using a Professional or higher version of Windows then you will have access to BitLocker, a volume encryption utility that is bundled with the operating system. To access it, simply hit the Windows key, search for it and click on the result that appears. You will be able to encrypt a whole volume, whether it is your hard drive or a removable drive like a USB flash drive. If you are using a Home version of Windows you will have to download a third party utility in order to do that like TrueCrypt.

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Another thing you can do is encrypt single files and folders. Simply right click on a file or folder, select properties and then click on the Advanced option in the General tab. Then, check the box that reads “Encrypt contents to secure data” and click OK. Note that files are encrypted with your account’s password. If you do not have one it will not work.