How to encrypt your files and keep them safe
Maybe it’s the Christmas shopping list you want stored away from prying eyes. Perhaps you want to keep your office documents extra safe in case your laptop is stolen. Whatever the case, the easiest way to get protected is by encrypting the relevant files and folders.
Some programs like Microsoft Word and Excel already offer this functionality. To encrypt whole folders and anything else you can download a free piece of software. We explain how to encrypt your files and keep them safe.
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1) Create the perfect password
An encrypted file is only as secure as the password protecting it, so don’t go using ‘password’ or ’123456′ to keep your personal documents safe. Especially when we’ve got a step-by-step guide to creating the perfect password that will help you no end. Essentially, using a mix of numbers, symbols and capital letters is key.
2) Encrypt your Office documents
Adding a password to any Word document is easily done. Just click on the File tab at the top of the screen, then Tools > Protection and Encrypt with password. Then it’s just a matter of typing in your chosen password.
3) Encrypt PDF documents
PDFs are similarly hassle-free to encrypt. Select View > Tools > Protect > Encrypt with password. You’ll even get a colour-coded indicator to show the strength of your password.
4) Google Drive and Dropbox encryption
If you’ve got any files stored in the cloud, then you’ll want to be certain that no one but you can look at them. The good news for users of Dropbox or Google Drive is that this is already the case. Google introduced encryption for all its cloud storage customer data in August this year, while Dropbox has used similar techniques to protect your documents for some time now.
5) For everything else, use TrueCrypt
Still got files you want encrypted? You should download TrueCrypt for free, install it on your PC and then click Create Volume. If you’re not planning on encrypting a lot of files, we’d recommend making a ‘container’.
Next choose where you want the data to be stored on your hard disk, specify the amount of space you want your file to take up, and enter your password. Now you have a volume, you can store as many files in it as you please by clicking Select File and ‘mounting’ them. This may sound like a complicated process but it’s easy enough to get the hang of.
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