You might have received a password protected zip file from a friend or want to password protect a zip file yourself. If you’re confused about what it is, or curious to learn the fastest way to secure your data, then this article is for you.

What is a password protected zip file?

What is a password protected zip file? The easiest way to understand this sentence is to break down each word. When you look closer, it tells you the whole story.

Password protected’ means that the sender has secured the file with a password. Without the correct password, you can't access or see its content. The process of protecting files is called file encryption. It "scrambles" or, rather, ciphers the data within the file, turning it to an unreadable ciphertext. Only by providing the correct password can you unscramble the data, returning it to readable "simple text" and get access to its content.

Safe AES Image

But what does the words ‘zip file’ tell us? Zip is a file format used to compress files with lossless data compression. The file format is a great way to send many files or folders, as you can pack it all into one file while enjoying reduced file size thanks to the compression.

To summarize, a password-protected zip file means that someone has protected a zip (.zip) file with file encryption, requiring the correct password to unlock it and get access.

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How to password protect a zip file

While you can password protect a zip file directly in both Windows 10 and macOS, the steps are unnecessarily long and complicated.

A more natural, faster way is with the compression software WinZip. With over a billion downloads, it's the most popular method to protect zip files, while effectively reducing file size.

Because WinZip works to password protect zip files on both Mac and Windows 10, you can safely follow the steps below regardless of which operating system you use.

Encrypting a file with a password in WinZip is simple. Start by downloading WinZip on Windows 10 or Mac and follow these steps:

Password protect a zip file (Windows 10 and macOS)

  1. Open WinZip and click Encrypt in the Actions pane.
  2. Drag and drop your files to the center pane
  3. Enter a secure password when the dialog box appears. Click OK.
  4. Click the Options tab in the Actions pane and choose Encryption Settings. Set the level of encryption and click Save.

To get a fast and secure, all-around encryption setting, choose 128-bit AES.

Final Words

You’ve now learned what a password protected zip file is and discovered the best ways to password protect zip files in Windows 10 and Mac.

But do all your zip files need protection with file encryption? Probably not. If you’re sending funny cat pictures or other files that don't require extra security, it's unnecessary to guard the data with a password.

But if you’re sending very private pictures, information, or data, password protecting zip files is an excellent way to ensure safety. Just make sure to keep your password secure and stored safely.

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