Add password protection to shared folder access in Windows 7

As you likely already know, Windows 7 allows you to share your files and folders on your local network or HomeGroup; and you can determine who has access to these resources, and what each user is allowed to do (at the most basic level, whether they are allowed to view these files only, or view and edit them, etc.) In this tutorial, we will show you how to password protect a folder to limit access to its content to people with whom you have shared specific credentials. Previous tutorials explained how to change your password in Windows 7, and change the password of other Windows 7 users: this functionality is similar, in that it relies on a specific user profile, namely the account which has permissions on that folder!

Protect a network shared folder with username and password

To make sure that we're all to speed, let's start at the beginning, and decide to share a folder on our own computer; if needed, create a sample folder for testing purposes. Now right-click on the folder, and choose "Share with" - Windows 7 offers four choices in the sharing submenu that opened:
Folder sharing menu in Windows 7


Windows will open a "File Sharing" dialog, which allows you to control who can access a folder and its content; by default, you will already see your username as "Owner" of the folder, since you created it (or at least it was created while logged into your username).

Tip: when, under "Permission Level" for a shared file, Windows 7 shows "Owner", you'll know that this is the highest level of control any user can get for a file or folder: it means that this user can view, edit, and even delete that resource!

Assign a password protected user account to the shared folder

Click on the dropdown menu, and you'll see a listing of all Windows 7 users on this particular computer; by choosing an authorized username to view this content as a shared folder, we are assuming that his/her/its profile is password protected. If you want to create a user profile just for this folder, just select "Create a new user" (or go the traditional route beforehand to add users in Windows 7).
Share a folder on the local Windows 7 network or HomeGroupOnce you have picked a user whose profile requires a password, anyone (outside yourself, while you are logged into your own user account) who wants to access that folder and its content will have to supply a username and password - in effect, this adds password protection to any folders on your network! Click on the "Share" button, and enter the UAC confirmation and/or administrator's password.

Tip: since the only authorized user to access this folder besides yourself requires a password, other people using your computer will be only able to open and view this folder (possibly edit its content, if you assigned read/write permissions to this user), if they provide the appropriate credentials, namely password. To truly password protect this folder, make sure that it is stored under your profile folder (Desktop, Documents, Pictures, etc. - not in the Public folder, and certainly not under another user's profile whose file you may be able to access.)

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