How to Password Protect a Folder in Windows XP

by Jason Artman

By default, it is possible for any user on a Windows XP-based computer to access the folders others create. However, it is possible to hide a folder from other users. When you do this, Windows XP only displays the folder when you are logged in to your account. You can also create a compressed folder and add a password to it. Either option can help prevent others with access to your computer from seeing your personal files.

Private Folder

Open the Start menu and select "Control Panel." The next five steps describe how to add password protection to your Windows XP user account, which is necessary for the private folder feature to function. If your user account already has a password, skip to Step 7.

Select the "User Accounts" Control Panel icon.

Click your account name under the "Or pick an account to change" heading.

Click "Create a password."

Type your desired account password twice. In the bottom field, type the hint that Windows should display if you forget your password. Make sure that the hint would not give your password away to others.

Click the "Create Password" button and close each window.

Right-click the folder to which you want to add password protection and select "Properties" on the context menu to open the Properties window.

Select the "Sharing" tab.

Place a check in the box labeled "Make this folder private."

Click "OK."

Compressed Folder

Right-click an open area of the desktop. Select "New" and "Compressed (Zipped) Folder" on the context menu. A folder with an image of a zipper appears on the desktop. Type the desired name for the folder and press "Enter."

Drag files to the new icon to add them to the compressed folder.

Double-click the folder to view its contents in Windows Explorer.

Open the "File" drop-down menu and select "Add a Password."

Type the desired password twice and click "OK."


  • Adding password protection to folders in Windows XP requires a hard drive formatted with the NTFS file system. By default, Windows XP uses the NTFS file system when formatting a new hard drive. If the "Make this folder private" option is unavailable, your computer's hard drive uses the older FAT32 file system, which does not support password protection.

About the Author

Jason Artman has been a technical writer since entering the field in 1999 while attending Michigan State University. Artman has published numerous articles for various websites, covering a diverse array of computer-related topics including hardware, software, games and gadgets.

Photo Credits

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