How To Great way to Store, Send and Secure Files

Recently, in an email, a reader asked for my recommendation to send someone multiple files quickly and easily. My answer? File compression and encryption. Using file compression not only makes the sent files smaller but also compresses multiple files into a single file, making the file transfer much easier and faster than sending each file one at a time.

What I normally do is compress and encrypt a folder using 7-Zip and then share the file via OneDrive. Once they confirm they have the file, I delete it. I’ve been doing this since Windows 7 days. However, it still works perfectly fine on the latest versions of Windows.

Secure/Encrypt Your Data

When transferring files or storing them on your Personal Drive or Online Service/in the “Cloud,” you might want to be sure that only those authorized can open and access your data.

Although Winzip is still a valid option, you can utilize SEVERAL other great tools to provide the same level of encryption/protection for little to no cost.  Here are a few Archiving/Compression Tools I’ve used:

There is also the choice of using the default Windows Compression (Built-in to Windows.)  Although this Built-in Windows tool does an OK job with compression, it’s not the most secure. It does provide a better first line of defense than no password at all.  Typically, a longer, more complex password will take longer to crack, and that’s true with all products most of the time. We call this a passphrase. Since the Windows XP days, Microsoft has conveniently built-in file archive tools so , let’s talk about those! Here’s a groovy how-to using the Built-in Windows Compression archive tool.  All other file archivers are very similar to this one.

Note: This encryption feature is not available with Windows Vista Built-in Compression.  Due to the security risk mentioned above, this feature was removed.  They probably wanted people to use EFS instead.

Password protecting single or multiple files in Windows XP

1.  Right-Click on the file or folder you wish to encrypt.  Click Send To, Compressed (zipped) Folder.

Compress Files and Folders using Windows XP

If you don’t want to protect your files with passwords, then congratulations!   You’re Done!  For the rest of you, read on to review how to add a password.

 2. Double-click the .zip file you just created in Step 1; it should automatically open in the Compressed file in a new window.

3.   Click File, Add a Password.  Type your desired password in both boxes and click OK.

Built-In Compression Windows XP - Add Password


Remember: Password-protected .zip Files using the Windows XP Built-In Tool allow users to open the .ZIP file and see the filenames and folders of compressed/protected files.  However, if they try to open the files, they will be prompted for the password.

Decrypt compressed archive using XP Free Tool

Enjoy this groovy, lightweight file protection & compression!



  1. AlexMVP

    December 6, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    No idea why anyone would use the built-in Windows XP to zip something. Perhaps if you were in a tight crunch orr???
    Anyway – I 7-Zip rules. I use it. It’s free, easy and Windows Vista / 2008 compatible. Three thumbs up for that one. Did I mention it’s free? Much better than any of the others.

  2. Animis

    December 10, 2008 at 1:09 am

    7-zip for the win.

  3. Brian

    January 1, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I’m trying to password protect large files in a compressed folder unsuccessfully.

    A 461MB file works, as does a 622MB file, but a 809MB file does not. When the compressed folder is opened, and the “File, Add Password” command is envoked, nothing happens… You do not get the normal Message Box that says that XP is adding a password to a file.

    Has anyone else had success with password protecting large files?

  4. MrGroove

    January 1, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    @Brian – That’s a great question. To be honest, I’ve never compressed anything larger than a few megs using the built-in Windows XP compression/password options. I’ll do some testing this afternoon and post back my results.

  5. Brian

    January 10, 2009 at 11:32 am

    MrGroove— I’m still very interested in this question… Did you have a chance to give it a look?

    Thanks so much,

  6. MrGroove

    January 12, 2009 at 12:35 am

    @Brian – So… After playing with 10 different files and sizes, I’ve confirmed your findings. Every time my file size goes about 550MB (on my computer – XP SP3 4 gigs memory) the password feature dies.

    So, I think it’s a BUG for sure over at Mickysoft. My advice? Go grab a copy of 7-zip. Have you tried out 7-Zip yet? The encryption is superior, compression fantastic AND, it’s free. :)

    Let me know how it goes. I’m going to ping a few old friends from MSFT and see if they knew about this issue. I’ll let ya know if I hear anything.

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