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How to Use Encrypted File System (EFS) to Encrypt Files

This article shows you how to use the built-in Encrypted File System (EFS) feature to encrypt and protect files easily and quickly in Windows 10 & 11.

Many people are unaware that the NTFS file system in Windows 10 and 11 allows you to encrypt files and folders using the Encrypted File System (EFS) feature. EFS has the advantage of being simple, fast, and consumes fewer system resources.

For example, all you have to do is check a box to secure the files or folders. Furthermore, EFS encrypts and protects your files using your user account details. This eliminates the need for a separate password. Logging into your user account decrypts encrypted files and folders automatically. Other users on the system cannot access your files without logging into your user account.

EFS is faster than BitLocker or other encryption technologies since it requires no additional password. Of course, EFS is not as powerful as the previously listed software, but it adds an extra degree of security.

If you want a simple approach to protect and encrypt your data, EFS (Encrypted File System) is the way to go. After all, you get the best of both worlds. Specifically, the convenience of usage and adequate protection.

So, without further ado, let me show you how to encrypt and protect files and folders using the EFS in Windows 10 and 11.

The steps below work the same in Windows 10 and 11.

Table of contents:


To use EFS encryption, the drive’s file system must be NTFS. You cannot use EFS encryption if you are using FAT32 or exFAT. To see if a drive is using the NTFS file system, right-click it, choose “Properties,” navigate to the “General” tab, and look at the “File System” field. “NTFS” should be written there.

Once you’ve confirmed that the drive is using the NTFS file system, proceed with the steps below to encrypt files using EFS in Windows.

How to Encrypt files with EFS

You don’t need any additional software to encrypt data with EFS. You can do it from the properties. Here’s how to do it in easy-to-follow steps.

  1. Open the File Explorer.
  2. Right-click on the file or folder.
  3. Choose the “Properties” option.
  4. Go to the “General” tab.
  5. Click the “Advanced” button.
  6. Select the “Encrypt contents to secure data” checkbox.
  7. Press the “Ok” button.
  8. Click “Ok” in the main window.
  9. With that, you’ve encrypted the file or folder with EFS.
  10. You can close the File Explorer.

Steps with more details:

To start, open File Explorer and navigate to the file or folder you want to encrypt. Then, right-click on it and select “Properties.”

click properties

This action displays the file or folder properties dialogue box. Navigate to the “General” menu and then click the “Advanced” button.

click advanced

Now, tick the “Encrypt contents to secure data” box and click the “Ok” button.

encrypt data with encrypted file system (efs)

In the main window, click the “Ok” button.

As soon as you do so, another confirmation request will appear. The option you must select will differ depending on whether you are attempting to encrypt a file or a folder.

When encrypting a folder, check the “Apply changes to this folder, subfolder, and files” box and click “Ok.” This guarantees that all subfolders and files contained within the selected folder are encrypted.

Apply changes to folders and sub folders

When encrypting a file, choose “Encrypt the file only” and then click “Ok.” This ensures that only the chosen file is encrypted.

apply changes to selected file only

The contents are secured with EFS as soon as you press the button. A little lock icon will appear over the file or folder icon to signify that it is secured with EFS. You can now exit File Explorer.

Since EFS doesn’t require a special password, you can normally open the encrypted file or folder as long as you are signed into your user account. You cannot open them if you are not signed into your user account.

That is all. It is that simple to use EFS to encrypt files and folders in Windows.

I hope this simple and easy Windows how-to guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need some help, send an email, and I will try to help as much as possible.

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