How to Password Protect a ZIP file in Windows
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.
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**.
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.
Right-click any of the **selected files**, select **7-Zip** and then click **Add to archive** to display the Add to Archive dialog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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**.
Optionally, change the destination folder by clicking the **Browse** button and then selecting a different folder. Click **OK** to create the archive.
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.
Right-click one of the selected files, select **WinZip** and then click **Add to Zip file** to display the Add Files dialog box.
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.
Click the **>** icon in the Encryption section and select the best encryption method -- **256-bit AES**. Click **OK**.
Optionally, enable and configure any of the options in the Conversions section. Click the **Add** button
Pick a destination folder for the archive and then click **Select Folder** to select it.
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.
References & Resources
- Into Windows: How to Create Zip File with Password in Windows 7/8
- WinZip: How Do You Encrypt Files in a Zip file with WinZip?
- Microsoft Windows: Tips for Creating Strong Passwords and Passphrases
- Microsoft Windows: Encrypt or Decrypt a Folder or File
- Microsoft Windows: Help Protect Your Files with BitLocker