Password protecting XP folders
February 25, 2005 6:09 AM   Subscribe

Is there some way within Windows XP or using 3rd party software that I can password protect individual folders on my pcs so that you cant see or get access to what is in them with out entering a password? Just to be super clear, I want to do this one folder at a time not as a general login.
posted by nightocean to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't found any freeware, but there are a couple different programs like Lock Folders XP.
posted by andrewzipp at 6:24 AM on February 25, 2005

Set up a new user account. Remove security access for that folder for anyone except that user. You need to open the "security" tab and uncheck every box listed for each user and user category except for that one account. You can't do it by explicitly checking the box that says "Deny", you have to uncheck the boxes that say "Allow". Annoying, but that's how it is set up.

Downside is that you'll need to use fast user switching to log in to see that folder, upside is no third party solution required. I did this for several folders on a computer in our lab, used for data backup, so that I can reliably back up my own stuff, as well as exams, student grades, letters of recommendation, etc. without leaving these things open to anyone in our lab. By using my name and password, accessing these files over the network from my own computer is seamless, no password prompt. From that computer itself, unless I am logged on any attempt to view or access those files is denied.

The caveat is that unless you actually enable windows encryption for that user, the files will be readable to anyone who has access to the computer and can boot it off of a live CD such as Knoppix, etc. If the drive itself is removed and dumped into a different Windows box, again the password protection will not be in effect. Lock down your box to be really secure, boot password it if you need that extra level of protection.

If you really want these files to be secure, hidden, and inaccessible, keep them on a removable drive, and keep that drive somewhere safe.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:25 AM on February 25, 2005

And be sure to back up that removable drive because it is more likely to fail than your hard drive.
posted by grouse at 6:41 AM on February 25, 2005

Not an expert at this but here's my thought:

In XP, a user can "share" folders with other users on a password basis. You could create a user who owns the folders to be password-protected. You can either specify other which other users can access the folder or assign password to the folder.

Disclaimer: this is off the top of my head -- I haven't tried this.
posted by winston at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2005

Use pgp:
posted by gnz2001 at 8:41 AM on February 25, 2005

I hear some people hide their porn with encrypted magic folders
posted by mr.marx at 9:43 AM on February 25, 2005

Downside is that you'll need to use fast user switching to log in to see that folder

I'm pretty sure you can use the runas command to run a new copy of the command shell with that user's credentials.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:38 PM on February 25, 2005

First I thought to use a password-protected zip folder, but soon realized that XP can see the directory structure and file names without asking for a pass. Then I tried pass/zipping an already pass/zipped folder, and it kind of worked, but it was a touch too messy. So then this idea came to me:

You could use the open source app 7-zip to archive your folders with a password.

The good:

1. You could use the 7z format so that XP couldn't browse the directory structure like it can with even password-protected .zips.

2. You'd be using AES-256 encryption.

The bad:

1. You'd have to delete the resulting un-zipped folder every time you want to access the contents. And then empty the trash.

2. Access time might be a bother. I just tested a 30MB folder, and it took about 18 seconds to compress and 12 to decompress given the lightest compression settings (and a 2 GHz P4).
posted by catachresoid at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2005

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