There are a large variety of reasons why you'd want to password protect a file or set of files. Some legit and some downright nefarious. I believe it's not really my place to make that distinction for others but I was asked to explain how to do this easily and so I've written this instructable to answer these questions. Please note that no "security measures" are truly secure and if you write something with a computer, there's nothing you can do to protect it that someone else smarter than you (or using tools developed by someone smarter than you (curse you script kiddies!!!)) can't undo. The advice "don't get caught" can only go so far and so I recommend being very selective about what you save and assume is safe.
Anyway, enough blather on to the good stuff!
Step 1: Get WinRar
I don't mean to plug for any company in particular and I'm sure there are many other vendors who have products that can do the same things but WinRar can do everything I want regarding archives and that's really all I need . . . So step one is to go to WinRar's
website, download their latest version, and install it on your machine.
Step 2: Archiving!
Ok so now you've installed the new archiving software and you've got some files you want password protected I'm going to pretend that I want some photos of my ceramics archived for some reason or another and demonstrate the process with them.
First step: Select all the files you want protected and right click on one of them. (the file names will still be visible so if you don't want that to happen then go ahead and put all the files into a new folder and then right click the folder and proceed) Click on "Add to archive . . ." you'll notice a little stack of books next to it (ain't they fancy!?).
A window called "Archive name and parameters" will pop up and may look a bit overwhelming at first but be still my enthralled readers all will be explained in due time!
Step 3: More Archiving
Under the General tab (it's the default one) do the following (or copy from my screenshot . . .you dirty cheats you)
-Give it an inconspicuous name
-Select a format (probably want zip if you're moving it from computer to computer)
-You can play with the other options to suit your needs but I nearly never use them myself.
Step 4: Finish Archiving
Under the "Advanced" tab do the following (or keep staring at your neighbor's paper but remember ceiling cat is watching you):
-Click "Set Password. . ."
-Fill in and confirm a password in the new window and click ok
Now Click "OK" in the main window and you're done!
Step 5: Final Notes
I know most of this is "old hat" to most people who know a lot about computers but I expect there's enough people who haven't heard of this trick who would want to so if you already know this stuff please either add to it or ignore it. (help keep that "Be Nice" policy intact eh?)
One thing to take into consideration: as soon as you start encrypting, password protecting, or otherwise securing files visibly the more attention you start drawing to them. . . .it's sort of like getting a portable safe: a thief simply steals the whole thing and opens it back at his hideout.