How to Password Protect Files and Folders with 7-Zip

7-Zip is a data archiving utility program. It allows you to compress, uncompress and encrypt data in a number of formats including .zip, .tar, .wim and .7z. It's installed by default on most Windows computers on campus, and is accessible either from the Start Menu, or via a right-click context menu.

It is available on the Virtual Windows Desktop (through AppsAnywhere).

This is not a replacement for full disk encryption on mobile devices. It is also not a managed solution and should be used with care, lost passwords cannot be recovered.

Password Protecting Files and Folders with 7zip

7-Zip includes the facility to create an encrypted archive file. While this is suitable for most applications care should be taken and there are some caveats to be aware of:

1. Right click on the files or folder you wish to compress and encrypt and go to 7-Zip > Add to archive....

Windows Explorer: Select Add to Archive

The following window should appear and Most of the options can be left as their defaults:

7-zip console Add to Archive

2. Give your compressed file a name e.g.

3. Ensure that the Archive format is zip.

4. Change the encryption method from ZipCrypto to AES-256 for strong encryption.

7-zip console Change Encryption Method to AES-256

5. Enter a secure password or passphrase.

6. Click OK.

7. Test the new archive file to ensure that the encryption is effective (i.e. it asks for a password before allowing extraction), and that it works on another computer. 

Decrypting a 7zip File 

 1. Right Click the Secured .zip folder.

 2.  Select 7zip > Extract Files on the menus

 Windows Explorer 7-zip Extract Files

3. This will open the 7zip Extract window.

7-zip console Extract to dialogue box

4. Change the Extract to: field to the location you wish to extract the .zip file to and enter the password, the files will then be extracted to a Folder with the same name as the .zip file by default.

Windows Explorer Folder with .zip folder example

5. The extracted files are now accessible and no longer protected.