Software

How do I use 7-Zip to encrypt/password protect files and folders (Windows)?

7-Zip is an open source software used to compress or zip files secured with encryption.
When you send or transfer files that contain Personal Identifiable Information (PII) or other confidential and sensitive data, the files must be encrypted to ensure they are protected from unauthorized disclosure. Examples include:

  • Social Security and Tax Identification Numbers
  • Credit Card Numbers
  • Non Directory Information (Such as 900 numbers)
  • Driver License Information
  • Passport Information
  • Account Numbers
  • Medical ID Numbers
  • Medical Diagnosis

7-Zip creates a container called an “archive” that holds the files or folders to be protected. That archive can be encrypted and protected with a password. 7-Zip is a free software that creates archive files that can be opened by other users with 7-Zip, WinZip, or other similar programs. If the archive file is password protected, they will need the password in order to open the file.

  1. To obtain a copy of 7-Zip, please see https://www.7-zip.org/ and select the Download link. Once the software is installed, please follow these steps to encrypt a file or folder.
     
  2.  

  3. Right-click on the file or folder to be encrypted. You can select multiple files or folders by clicking and dragging the mouse cursor over all the files or folders you would like to select
  4.  

  5. Select “7-Zip” and then select “Add to archive…” This will open the “Add to Archive” window.
     
  6.  

  7. In the “Add to Archive” window, change the name of the archive you wish to create.
     
  8.  

  9. In the “Archive Format” drop-down menu, select “zip”.
     
  10.  

  11. Under “Encryption method”, change the encryption method to “AES-256”.
     
  12.  

  13. Enter and reenter a password. Use a strong password with at least characters containing upper- and lower-case letters, and a minimum of one number.
     
    NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU AND/OR THE RECIPIENT HAS THE PASSWORD FOR THE ARCHIVE. ONCE IT IS LOST, A PASSWORD CANNOT BE RECOVERED!
     
  14.  

  15. Select “OK” to create the encrypted archive file. The new archive file will be located in the same folder as the original file(s)/folder(s).
  16.  

  17. To open an archive file that you have received, first download the archive file to your computer. Right-click on the file, select “7-Zip”, then select “Extract Here”. When prompted to do so, enter the password provided to you by the person who created the archive file. The files/folders in the archive will be copied into the same location as the archive file.
     
    NOTE: DO NOT OPEN ARCHIVE FILES FROM UNVERIFIED SOURCES. ONLY OPEN ARCHIVE FILES THAT YOU ARE EXPECTING, AND COME FROM A TRUSTED CCBC SOURCE! IF YOU ARE NOT SURE, REACH OUT TO THE SENDER USING AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF CONTACT BEFORE YOU OPEN THE FILE TO VERIFY THAT IT IS SAFE.
  18.  

Please note that the recipient of the message may need to install 7-Zip or a similar program to open the contents of any files or folders encrypted in this fashion.

Best security practices recommend that you do not e-mail the password with the archive file, as it could be intercepted in transit. Call or text the recipient of the archive file and convey the password to them directly.

Mail this page!

Was this helpful?

Leave A Comment