Using EFS to Encrypt or Decrypt Windows 11 Files and Folders

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The article provides instructions on how to encrypt and decrypt files and folders using the Encrypted File System (EFS) in Windows 11, which enhances security. The steps can be done via folder or file properties option or using specific commands via the terminal. Limitations include the incompatibility of EFS with Windows 11 Home Edition and…

This article describes the steps to encrypt or decrypt files and folders with an Encrypted File System (EFS) in Windows 11.

The Encrypted File System, or EFS, provides additional security for files, folders, or directories. A public-key system provides cryptographic protection of individual files on NTFS file system volumes.

Your data may be compromised if you lose a Windows device with sensitive information and file folders that are not encrypted. Encrypting the files and folders on your device increases security.

When a folder is encrypted, new files and folders saved there will automatically be encrypted by EFS.

Encrypted File System is not available on Windows 11 Home Edition.

The following items cannot be encrypted in Windows: compressed files, system files and directories, root directories, and transaction data.

Below is how to encrypt or decrypt files and folders using EFS in Windows 11.

How to encrypt or decrypt files and folders using EFS in Windows 11

As described above, The Encrypted File System, or EFS, provides additional security for files and directories. A public-key system provides cryptographic protection of individual files on NTFS file system volumes.

There are multiple ways to encrypt or decrypt files and folders in Windows 11. Below are a few steps one can take to accomplish this.

Encrypting or decrypting files and folders using the Properties option

Windows folder and file Properties command lets you quickly encrypt or decrypt an entire folder or file.

Here’s how to do that.

Select the folder or file you want to encrypt or decrypt. Then right-click on the folder or file and select Properties on the context menu.

On the General tab, click on the Advanced button.

On the Advanced Attributes window, check the box next to “Encrypt contents to secure data” to encrypt the folder or file and click OK.

To decrypt, uncheck the box and click OK.

Once you click OK, you will be prompted to “Apply changes to this folder only” or “Apply changes to this folder, subfolders, and files.”

Make your selection and click OK.

If encrypting a file, you will get a prompt to “Encrypt the file and its parent folder” or “Encrypt the file only.” Make your selection and click OK.

Encrypting or decrypting files and folders using commands

Windows allows you to encrypt and decrypt files using commands. Open Windows Terminal and select either Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt.

Then, run the commands below to encrypt a file or folder.

cipher /e "<full file path>"

Type in the full path of the file.

Example:

cipher /e C:\Users\Richard\Secret\Document.txt

To decrypt, run the cipher command with the /d switch.

cipher /d "<full file path>"

Example:

cipher /d C:\Users\Richard\Secret\Document.txt

Encrypting or decrypting folders using the commands

You can encrypt or decrypt folders using the command prompt or Windows PowerShell. Open Windows Terminal and select either Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt.

To encrypt a folder, run the commands below.

cipher /e /s:"<full folder path>"

Example:

cipher /e /s:"C:\Users\Richard\Secret\Document"

To decrypt a folder, run the commands below:

cipher /d /s:"<full folder path>"

Example:

cipher /d /s:"C:\Users\Richard\Secret\Document

That should do it!

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to encrypt or decrypt files and folders in Windows 11. Please use the comment form below if you find any errors above or have something to add.

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