Why You Should Password Protect Archive Files: Use Passwords and Encryption to Protect Your Sensitive Information

Identify thefts increased by 68% in 2021, and the majority of complaints were fraud related. Malicious hackers commonly use ransomware attacks to take data hostage until they get paid. Unfortunately, your unprotected files are easy targets for cybercriminals.

Considering this growing risk alongside our increasing reliance on electronic transfers, we need to take measures for better file security. Luckily, you can encrypt and password protect archive files on your computer, and this is particularly handy when you want to safely send and receive sensitive information. 

Compressing your large data files into a single ZIP folder is a great way to transfer files between computers or to your family, friends, and colleagues. You can password protect your ZIP files to ensure privacy for sensitive data such as bank details, confidential files, or research data. 

It’s important to password protect ZIP files to prevent cybercrooks or snoopers from accessing your private files and information. If a cybercriminals gets hold of your personal information or bank details, dealing with the consequences is far from simple. Protecting your files from the outset is a much simpler solution.

What is File Archive?

A file archive is a single file that contains condensed or compressed files, usually intended for long term storage. When you compress files into ZIP or RAR format, you essentially reorganize the data to make the file size smaller. Compressing files lets you keep them on your computer without taking up colossal amounts of your internal storage.

The five most common formats for file archiving are: 

  1. ZIP. This file compression format is extremely popular because it’s the most easily accessible. Most operating systems have built-in support for extracting ZIP files so you probably won’t need to download third-party software to do so.
  1. RAR. While RAR is considered better than ZIP for file archiving, it requires third-party software to open and extract compressed files. Luckily, you can find many free tools for this online. RAR is also commonly used for error correction and file spanning.
  1. TAR. A TAR file archive can only be used with the official TAR application. It compresses files while preserving extraneous information such as permissions, dates, and user information. It’s mostly used with UNIX and Linux operating systems and is less popular than ZIP and RAR. 
  1. TAR.GZ. This format is supported by most operating systems, including Windows, macOs, UNIX, and Linux. TAR.GZ is the archive format created by the TAR application and can be extracted with the 7-Zip application. 
  1. 7z Archive. This format offers a high compression ratio, meaning it can condense large files into very small compressed files. It’s supported by the most recent versions of Windows.

What’s the Best Way to Archive Files and Folders?

You can archive and store files using several different methods, though some are more straightforward than others. The two most popular methods of archiving use compressed ZIP files or RAR files. Since these file types are used so frequently, it’s easiest to find reliable tools and information for compressing and retrieving them. 

To securely store and transmit your archive files, we recommend always using a reliable VPN. When you connect to a VPN, your traffic is encrypted and routed through a secure server network. This ensures your data is safe from prying eyes. Try CyberGhost VPN to enjoy military-grade encryption when surfing the internet and sending important files.

How to Password Protect a Folder

When you encrypt your files and use password protection, you make the information inaccessible to unauthorized users. This usually involves an encryption key or password, which you’ll need to use to decrypt files and folders later. 

We advise encrypting any sensitive or important files you archive, such as your personal, financial, or medical information. Keep reading to find out how to password protect and/or encrypt files using Windows, MacOs, and Linux OS.

Encrypting on Windows

Although you can’t password protect ZIP files or folders in Windows without downloading a program like 7-zip, you can easily protect your archive files. Windows has an in-built Encrypting File System (EFS) feature on a wide range of Microsoft Windows devices. 

Windows encrypts files using an encryption key, then automatically saves it to the user account. This means you’ll only be able to access the encrypted file when you’re logged in to that specific user account. You can use this feature in a few simple steps:

  1. Find the compressed folder you want to encrypt and right-click on it.
  2. Click “properties” to open the property settings on the folder.
Image of opening file properties on Windows OS
  1. Navigate to the “general” tab and then click “advanced” in the settings window.
Image showing the properties dialogue box in Windows OS
  1. When the “advanced attributes” window opens, check the “encrypt contents to secure data” option. 
  2. A confirmation box will appear asking if you also want to encrypt the subfolders. If you do, select “encrypt the file and its parent folder”, then click “ok”. 

Bonus Tip: CyberGhost VPN offers an all-in-one digital security solution for Windows users. Our Windows Security Suite provides comprehensive privacy and protection alongside malware protection. You’ll enjoy world-class security with our 3-in-1 solution — antivirus protection, our security updater, and of course, full VPN access.

MacOS File Encryption

While it’s possible to encrypt a ZIP file on macOS without using any additional software, you’ll need to manually enter commands into your computer using Terminal. This might seem intimidating if you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy, but it’s very doable. Here’s how: 

  1. Open Terminal through Finder > Utilities, and then click on the Terminal app. Alternatively, you can press Cmd + the space bar. 
Image showing the terminal in MacOS
  1. Set the destination of the file you wish to encrypt and type “cd” plus the location of the file. 
  2. Enter zip -er FILENAME.zip’ and replace “FILENAME” with the name of the file you’re encrypting. Now drag the file into the Terminal window and click “return”.
  3. You’ll then be asked to enter a password. This will be your encryption key, so make sure you write it down somewhere safe. 

Linux File Protection

You can use the command line in Linux to password protect a ZIP file. Here’s how to do that in a few simple steps: 

  1. Open the terminal and enter “sudo apt install zip unzip”. 
  2. Enter “-e and –encrypt” to set a password for your ZIP file. You can also use the command “sudo zip –encrypt linuxhint.zip linux.txt debian.txt” to create a password-protected ZIP file in your current directory. 
  3. Use the command “sudo unzip -r info.zip” to zip and unzip files.

You can also create a password-protected ZIP file using GUI. Visit the Linux instructions page for detailed information on how to do that. 

Pro Tip: If you’re concerned about your privacy, use a VPN to protect your data on all your internet-connected devices. A VPN hides your IP address and reroutes your traffic through a secure tunnel. Get CyberGhost VPN for the best data protection — you’ll enjoy high speeds and uncrackable encryption when sending your files.

Can You Hide Files on a Computer?

Windows, macOS, and Linux all let you hide and retrieve files. This is great if you share your computer with coworkers or family and don’t want them to view your personal files or folders. Here’s how to hide files on each operating system: 


    • ️🔒  Right-click on the file you want to hide, and click “properties”. 
    • ️🔒  A dialogue box will open, under “attributes” click on “hidden”. 
    • ️🔒  To finish, click “ok” or “apply”. 
    • ️🔒  This file will automatically be hidden and you’ll no longer be able to find it in its normal location. 
    • ️🔒  To view the file, click on “view” when your File Explorer tab is open and check the “hidden items” box. This will now display hidden files until you’ve unchecked the box. 


To hide and unhide files on MacOs, simply:

    • ️🔒  Select the file that you wish to hide and use the shortcut “command+shift+period”. 
    • ️🔒  This will hide your selected file.
    • ️🔒  If you use this command while in the file location, it will also unhide it. 


Hiding files on Linux is super easy because it will automatically hide files that have a period at the beginning of their name. For example, if you want to hide a file named “confidential”, simply:

    • ️🔒  Change it to “.confidential” and it will automatically be hidden. 
    • ️🔒  To view the hidden file, simply click “show hidden” in your file manager. 

Keeping Your Information Protected From Prying Eyes

It seems like every day our need to digitally transfer important files and information grows. That’s great, because it’s convenient, but it also puts your privacy and data at a high risk of theft. The good news: you can do a lot to protect yourself from snoops and malicious hackers.

Protecting important files containing your personal information, bank details, or other sensitive data is paramount to your privacy and security.

 The simple methods we discussed in this article are a great start toward safer transfers — you can easily archive and password protect your files. 

Major operating systems, like Windows, Linux, and MacOS include internal methods that provide extra security for your files, like password protection and encryption. That means you can immediately get some level of file protection without downloading any external software to protect or hide your files.

To enjoy a whole new level of security in everything you do online, you need a secure VPN like CyberGhost. With the tap of a button, you connect to our secure network of 9600+ servers in 90+ countries. We encrypt your data, reroute it through our VPN tunnel, and get it to its destination safe and secure.


What is an archive file?

An archive file is a file that’s compressed for long-term storage (including cloud storage). You can compress many files of any size into a single file, like a ZIP or RAR archive. The resulting file size is a fraction of the original ones put together, so you’ll free up a lot of space. 

Do you need an app to archive and password protect ZIP files?

While many people use separate apps to archive and password protect files, Windows, macOS, and Linux also have built-in systems to let you archive and password protect files (or encrypt them) without extra help. That said, using the built-in features can sometimes be more difficult than using apps like WinZip.

When you’re dealing with files containing personally identifying information (PII) on any device or operating system, you need to secure your connection. CyberGhost VPN makes it simple to encrypt your data and secure your connection with user-friendly apps for every major OS and device.

What’s the best way to archive a folder?

The most popular and efficient way to archive a folder is to create a ZIP or RAR file. This scrambles and compresses the data into a smaller file, making it easy to send and store. When you want to retrieve the data, you can use the “extract” function to get the original version of the file. 

To protect your files from ransomware and in transit, get CyberGhost VPN to enjoy military-grade encryption and a secure connection. Your subscription comes with 24/7 access to our award-winning Customer Support team. Reach out anytime for quick and helpful answers to any of your questions.

How can you hide a file or folder?

Windows, macOS, and Linux all allow you to hide files and folders so you can keep your data safe. However, the method differs for each operating system. 


          • Right-click on the file you want to hide.
          • Click on “properties”.
          • Select “hidden” under “attributes” .

          • Select the file or folder you wish to hide.
          • Use the “command+shift+period” shortcut to hide the folder.

          • Simply add a period at the beginning of the file name and the system will automatically hide it.

Hiding files and folders is a great step toward keeping your sensitive information private. If you want security and peace of mind online, even on public Wi-Fi, take advantage of CyberGhost VPN’s 45-day money-back guarantee

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