- System Protection with System Restore and Previous Versions
- Per-User Encryption with Encrypting File System (EFS)
- Full Disk Encryption with BitLocker
- Back and Restore: Safeguard Files and Create System Images
- Even More Protection Features
Per-User Encryption with Encrypting File System (EFS)
Since Windows 2000, Microsoft has included the Encrypting File System (EFS) feature in the premium editions of Windows. This encryption scheme lets you secure single files or folders from unauthorized access by other users of the computer, hackers, and thieves. It can be used with the other encryption tool, BitLocker, which is discussed in the next section.
EFS is included in Windows XP Professional; Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate; and the Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.
Some benefits of EFS include: it does not require any special hardware, it lets each user on the computer do their own encryption, and doesn't require administrator privileges. Plus EFS is simple and easy to use.
To enable encryption of a folder or file, right-click it and select Properties. On the Properties dialog, click the Advanced button and then choose the encryption option.
Figure 2 shows an example in Windows 7.
For files, you can click the Details button to specify any other users you want to have access to the file, such as Figure 3 shows. Other users can open the encrypted folder but can open or modify only files that they create or have been added to.
Each user should back up the certificates and private keys that are created automatically for EFS. If the set installed on the computer becomes corrupt or lost, the encrypted files can't be opened. Be sure to securely store a copy of these files to a USB drive, a disc, or another computer.