ZIP files typically are compressed files of all sorts: images, music, text documents, game configuration files, etc. Compression of files is used so those files won't hold too much space on the hard drive, compressed archives are easier to share as they could contain every type of files in one place or even in different folders.
The convenience of ZIP files creates a strong need of protection for those files, so no one would have unexpected access to its contents. There are a few ways on how to secure a ZIP file.
Note, that while Windows XP supported creation of compressed files and provided an ability to password protect them, later versions of Windows operation system do not share this feature with its their predecessor. To encrypt ZIP files in Windows OS after Windows XP one must use downloaded third-party software.
1. Securing ZIP Files with 7-ZIP
7-Zip is a free software that manages compressed files in any way possible, being not inferior to WinRAR, the most popular (though paid) software in the field. 7-Zip is a zip password installer that works for Windows, Linux and Mac. Here are instructions on how to use 7-Zip to one's benefit when securing ZIP files.
Note! Try to write down your passwords somewhere or remember them well. There is a zero chance to recover your data if the password is lost and there is a low chance of ZIP password cracker succeeding in this task.
How to Create Password While Compressing a File with 7-Zip
- Right-click on the files/folder that is going to be turned to a compressed password-protected ZIP file;
- In the menu, go to 7-Zip and select "Add to archive" in the contextual menu;
- As the "Add to archive" dialog window opens up, write the name of the future ZIP file and then pick "zip" as the archive format;
- In the "Encryption" section (lower right section of the dialog window), enter and reenter a password in corresponding fields;
- Last, but not the least, pick the option "ZipCrypto" as the encryption method as it's supported by Windows OS;
- Left-click "OK". After a little processing time, a password-protected ZIP file will be created.
How to Create Password for an Existing 7-Zip File
- Unpack the ZIP file with 7-Zip;
- Do steps 1-6 from the guide above.
Unfortunately, there is no quick way to password protect a 7-Zip file without unpacking and repacking. The password can be added using other software though.
How to Remove 7-Zip Password
- Unpack the ZIP File with 7-Zip;
- Follow steps 1,2,3 of the "how to create password while compressing a file with 7-Zip" guide;
- Left-click "OK".
There is a way without having to repack a ZIP file, but it requires yet another program.
2. Securing ZIP Files with WinRAR
WinRAR is the most popular paid software used to compress files all over the world. It could be preinstalled on the computer, and it would most definitely annoy you with its constant suggestions to buy a license. The license is worth a shot - WinRAR has some features that are not available in free analogs, but if there is no need for anti-virus protection and other minor conveniences, you will be just fine using a trial version or 7-Zip.
How to Create Password While Compressing a File with WinRAR
- Right-click on the selected files/folder that is going to be compressed under a password. This will trigger a dialog window "Archive name and parameters" to appear;
- Chose the name and archive format (ZIP);
- Click on the panel "Set password" (it's located in the lower right of a dialog window). This will open a new dialog window "Enter password";
- Enter and reenter the password accordingly into the blank fields and tick ZIP legacy encryption so the file would be available to open with File Explorer;
- Left-click "OK". When "Enter password" dialog window will fade, left-click "OK" one more time in the "archive name and parameters" window;
- It is done.
How to Create Password for an Existing WinRAR File
- Unpack the ZIP file using WinRAR.
- Follow steps 1-6 of a previous guide.
How to Remove Password From a ZIP File
- Unpack ZIP file with WinRAR.
- Repack it without clicking the "Set password" button.
- Securing ZIP files with WinZip.
WinZip is a paid but very efficient compression tool. It is beneficial to other two file compressors as it supports adding password to the existing ZIP files. There is also an option to try it for free.
How to Create Password While Compressing a File with WinZip
- Open WinZip;
- In the "Actions" panel, click the "Encrypt" option;
- If this feature was never used before, it's good to click the "Options" button and set the encryption level;
- Add files that are going to be compressed and encrypted;
- There would be the "Encrypt" dialog. Enter a password to blank field;
- Save the ZIP file.
How to Create Password for an Existing WinZip File
- Open the ZIP file;
- Click the Encrypt toggle in the Actions panel, then click Options, then click Apply to all files in the ZIP
- It is done.
How to Remove Password from a ZIP file
- Unpack the ZIP file;
- Repack it's files without setting a password.
How To Open Password Protected ZIP Archives
No matter which software the ZIP file was created with, opening a ZIP Archive follows a pattern.
- Double-click on the ZIP file;
- In menu, select "Extract files". The dialog window will offer a path to where on the computer files from the archive will be extracted to;
- Click "OK". It will trigger a dialog window to appear. Enter a password in a blank field, then click "OK" one more time. The files will be extracted to the selected path/folder.