The Encrypting File System (EFS) is designed to increase security on your computer by protecting your files. Files that have been protected using EFS are encrypted at the file-system level. The benefit of this is that the files can only be opened by the user with the appropriate private key and certificate. Even if you were to reinstall the operating system, the files would still be inaccessible.

You can encrypt a file using the steps listed below.

  1. Click Start and click Computer.
  2. Locate the file you want to encrypt.
  3. Right click the file and select Properties
  4. From the General tab, click the Advanced button.
  5. Select the Encrypt contents to secure data option.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click OK to close the file’s properties dialog box.

Note: An important point to remember is that a file cannot be both encrypted and compressed. If compression is enabled, it will be disabled when encryption is enabled.

Once you complete these steps, the contents of the file are encrypted. When you access the file, the contents are automatically decrypted. You can disable encryption on a file by completing the steps outlined above and removing the check beside the Encrypt contents to secure data option.

Another user can be given permission to open an encrypted file. Once you complete step 4, click the Details button. Use the Add button to configure which users have permission to transparently access the encrypted file.

[tags]encrypting file system, efs, vista, windows[/tags]