Password protect (encrypt) specific files but retain multi user access

afflik1923 used Ask the Experts™
We have an office that wants to password protect specific files that could be saved anywhere on the network.
Our first response was to have a folder controlled by AD that only the relevant users have access to, but this is not good enough  as the files could be saved anyway in amongst normal files that other people have access to.

So in short I need to offer a solution that allows specific files to be password protected.

This led me to thinking about Winzip (or similar) and just using the encryption option so that the zip file is password projected.

Therefore to view an a file they first have to unzip with the password. But still a bit more cumbersome then one would like. In particular because what they are encrypting is Outlook emails saved to a network drive location. So an Outoook email file. It would be nice if they could just open the file as they would any other Outlook email file and the only extra step is that a password is requested to view that email. That would be exact solution they require although I'm not sure how to achieve it.

Welcome any input on this.

Note the environment is Windows Server 2003 with Windows XP PC's
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Whatever the solution you choose, the users could always copy the data, once accessed, and paste it somewhere else, in some unencrypted manner.

Regarding the "password protection" that WinZip offers, this would mean that all the users would know the unique password. BTW, WinRAR or 7zip password protection is really stronger than Zip/WinZIp protection. And 7zip is free.

My first thought would be to use ACL (access control list) to prevent unauthorized users to access the data. If the files are all on a single shared folder, that is easier. Users do not have to enter any password to access the files, if they are allowed to. Then, add some encryption to the files to add some more security (using WinZip or RAR or 7zip).

If you would like to explore EFS (encrypted file system) with shared folders, check the articles mentioned in this thread:

I haven't need it in a while, but True Crypt is pretty flexible:

Truecrypt  (free)

And PGP is still around, but Symantec has bought it, so who knows what it is going to do with it:


I tried 7s on my Windows XP but find that it does not encrypt the files. Therefore I set a password but compress the file, but then I can open it again without a problem.
Am I missing something?
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Also after the 7s install, it did not assoicated the file extension with teh 7s program. So I was using zip format. I installed from but I'm beginning to think something is not right, or it's just a bit ropey.
You mean 7zip (7z) not 7s, right?

To associate it with .7z files (and zip/rar files)
Start/Programs/7zip/7zip File Manager
Tools/Options/System. And select the extensions you want to associate with 7z.
But beware :If you use a zip file, you are stuck with the encryption for the zip file format (whatever the tool you use to create your zip files). which is weak and easily crackable. If you want a better encryption, use .7z, .rar (but 7zip can't create .rar files, just uncompress them), gzip or the like.

You can also create self extractible .exe files, that use any of the supported archive file formats. This makes it useless for your users to have the 7zip application (or any application you want to use for that purpose)


Thanks for the input on this. Struggled with 7zip a bit but did not put heaps of effort into getting it working.

Thank you much.    : )

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