How to Password Protect a ZIP file in Windows

By Nick Peers

Although Windows 7 and 8.1 can create archives natively, they do not ship with an application that can protect and archive a password. To add a password to a ZIP archive, use any of the three most popular archiving utilities: 7-Zip, WinRAR or WinZip. You can [unzip the archive](http://www.ehow.com/how_6112837_unzip-password-protected-zip-file.html) on another computer using an archiving utility.

Using 7-Zip

Step 1

Download and install [7-Zip](http://www.7-zip.org) and then open the **File Explorer** in Windows 8.1 by pressing **Windows-X** to expand the Power User Menu and selecting **File Explorer**.

Step 2

Select the folder that contains the files you want to add to the archive and then select the files. To select everything in a folder, press **Ctrl-A**. To select only a few specific files, hold **Ctrl** and click each item.

Step 3

Right-click any of the **selected files**, select **7-Zip** and then click **Add to archive** to display the Add to Archive dialog.

Step 4

Type a name for the archive into the **Archive** field and then select **ZIP** from the **Archive format** box.Optionally, change the compression level and method before creating the archive. Compression levels and methods affect the size of the resulting archive.

Step 5

Type the password into the **Enter password** and **Reenter password** fields. To see the password as you type it, check the **Show Password** box.Select the strongest encryption method -- **AES-256** -- from the **Encryption method** box.

Step 6

Optionally, change the destination folder by clicking the **...** button and selecting a different folder. By default, the archive is stored in the folder that contains the files you want to archive. Click **OK** to create the password-protected archive.

Using WinRAR

Step 1

Download and install [WinRAR](http://www.rarlab.com/download.htm) on your Windows 7 or 8.1 computer and then launch the archiving utility.Select the folder that contains the files you want to protect using the Address bar near the top of the window.

Step 2

Select the files you want to add to the archive. To select everything in the folder, press **Ctrl-A**. Select only a few files and folder by holding **Ctrl** and clicking each item. Click the **Add** button to display the Archive Name and Parameters dialog.

Step 3

Change the name of the archive from the **Archive name** field and click the **ZIP** radio button in the Archive Format section to create a ZIP file. Click the **Set Password** button.Optionally, change the compression method from the **Compression Method** drop-down box and select different options -- such as automatically deleting files after archiving, or testing the archived files -- from the Archiving Options section.

Step 4

Type the password into the **Enter password** and **Reenter password...** fields. To see the password as you type, check the **Show password** box. Click **OK**.

Step 5

Optionally, change the destination folder by clicking the **Browse** button and then selecting a different folder. Click **OK** to create the archive.

Using WinZip

Step 1

Download and install [WinZip](http://www.winzip.com/win/en/index.htm) and then launch it on your Windows 7 or 8.1 computer.Open the **File Explorer** and open the folder that contains the files you want to archive. Press **Ctrl-A** to select everything in the folder or hold **Ctrl** and click each item to select only a few files or folders.

Step 2

Right-click one of the selected files, select **WinZip** and then click **Add to Zip file** to display the Add Files dialog box.

Step 3

Change the name of the ZIP file from the **File Name** field and select a compression type -- ZIP or ZIPX -- from the Compression Type section. Check the **Encrypt files** box.

Step 4

Click the **>** icon in the Encryption section and select the best encryption method -- **256-bit AES**. Click **OK**.

Step 5

Optionally, enable and configure any of the options in the Conversions section. Click the **Add** button

Step 6

Pick a destination folder for the archive and then click **Select Folder** to select it.

Step 7

Type the password into the **Enter password** and **Re-enter password...** fields. The password must be at least eight characters. To see the password as you type, check the **Hide the password** box. Click **OK** to create the archive.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use strong passwords that contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters to make it difficult for people to crack the archive.
  • In Windows 7 and 8.1, you can encrypt files and folders by using the Encrypting File System feature. The EFS feature doesn't use passwords; any person with access to your Windows user account can access your encrypted files.
  • To password-protect entire drives -- and even removable drives -- use the BitLocker feature in Windows 7 and 8.1.
  • Using words from the dictionary as passwords makes the archive easier to crack through dictionary attacks.