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Recent Windows operating systems like XP, Vista as well as Windows 7 do not use passwords to protect resources like files and folders. Instead, every resource has an associated DACL, a Discretionary Access Control List, which determines whether or not a user has the right to access a resource, and if so, with which level of permissions (read/write/execute for example). The DACL approach is believed to be safer and better manageable.
However, in some situation it may be useful to password protect folders, such as for instance when your Windows XP account/profile has no password associated , the Windows XP account/profile is being shared, or when you want to make it impossible for administrator to have access to your data by all means. Windows XP built-in methods to password protect folders make use of encryption; pure password-protection is left to third party tools.
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My Private Folder
My Private Folder is a Microsoft utility to password protect one folder per user (profile) applying encryption without resorting to full fledged EFS Windows Encrypting File System. The tool is that good that Microsoft stopped making it available soon after people discovered that it works as designed :-)
The install is straightforward (please find the My Private Folder download link in the reference section). The utility places a shortcut to the password protected folder in C:\Documents and Settings\<Your Name> on your desktop. If you want you can share the Private Folder with other users of the Windows XP based system by telling them your password and your profile path to the private folder.
In case you share a Windows XP account or if your XP account doesn’t have a security mechanism assigned such as a smartcard or password for example, then you may want to use XP’s free password protected ZIP compression as explained below or a third party tool.
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ZIP & Third Party Tool
In Windows XP you can assign a password to any folder by zipping it as follows: Right-click the folder and select Send To --> Compressed (zipped) Folder. Then double-click the compressed folder and open the File menu. Select Add a password. When you have entered and confirmed the password remember to permanently delete the uncompressed folder, such as by holding the shift key while pressing delete.
Alternatively, you may want to consider to password protect folders in Windows XP using a third party tool such as Folder Lock explained in Bright Hub’s review Folder Lock: Password Protection & File Encryption.
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My Private Folder - http://www.softpedia.com/get/Security/Lockdown/Microsoft-Private-Folder.shtml
How To Password Protect Folders in Windows XP
Windows systems no longer offer standard password protecion for folders, but in this series you will be shown alternative ways of how to password protect folders in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. On top of that will you be taught how to password protect Flash drives, DVDs or network shared folders