How to Encrypt Any File, Folder or Drive on Your System

Encrypt files, folders, and drives on your computer mean that no one else can understand the data they contain no specific decryption key—in most cases, it’s a password only you know.

So while someone can get your files if they know your password (decryption key), they won’t be able to take the drive from your system and access the contents on it or use the computer. second nature to read your data—it would all be meaningless. That means if your Windows or macOS machine is lost or stolen, you don’t have to worry about someone using the data on it.

The way the most popular operating systems handle encryption has changed over the years, and there are third-party tools that give you more encryption options to choose from. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about these options to help you choose the right one.

Integration options for Windows

Device encryption is available in Home versions of Windows.

Window via David Nield

Encryption on Windows is a bit more complicated than it should be. First of all, there’s a difference between the Windows Home and Windows Pro versions: Pro users have a powerful tool called BitLocker for encryption, but with the Home edition, there’s a more basic alternative. It’s simply called device encryption and you can find it by selecting Privacy & Security And after that device encryption from the Settings panel in Windows.

Not too fast, though, as this option won’t appear to everyone: This option requires a certain level of hardware security support from your desktop or laptop computer. It’s all quite complicated and we don’t have room to go into all the details here, but window club there is a great explainer. If you search in the Start menu a tool called “system information” then right click and run it as administrator you can see why your computer supports it or not support this feature through Device Encryption Support.

Assuming your hardware meets all the requirements and device encryption displayed, you can click through it to see if your system drives are encrypted—by default, they are encrypted if you sign in to your computer with a Microsoft account. That means anyone accessing your hard drive without that permission won’t be able to see the data on it because the data will be encrypted and protected. If encryption is not enabled for any reason, you can toggle the switch to Above.

For external drives and USB sticks, if you have the Pro version of Windows you can use BitLocker: Just right-click the drive in File Explorer, select Show more options and Turn on bitlocker, and set a password. However, for those using the Home edition, this option isn’t available—you’ll have to use a third-party tool to encrypt the external drives, and we’ll continue with those later. in this article.

Integration options for macOS

Use FileVault for maximum protection on your Mac.

Apple via David Nield

Coding on macOS isn’t as confusing as it is on Windows, but it still needs some explanation. If you have a Mac with a security chip T2 or internal Apple silicon (so late 2017 onwards), the contents of your system disk are encrypted by default. Your account password is required to access the computer and all data is secured on the drive.


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