The short answer is that Google Docs won’t let you password protect files even though lots of people want to. It’s true that in order to reach any of the documents and spreadsheets stored online with Google Docs you need to first login to Gmail or your Google Account (which requires a password), but so many people use the “remember my password” feature or just leave themselves logged in when away from their computer that a roommate or passerby could potentially access their saved files.
I’ve tried to address this issue on my local computer by password protecting the computer itself and locking it before I step away. I have also discovered that in Windows you can password protect entire folders simply by following these three steps:
- Right click the folder you want to password protect and choose “Properties”
- Click on the Advanced button
- Check the box for “Encrypt contents to secure data” as shown above
The image just above shows files that have been password protected or “encrypted” and their titles have turned green as a result. The steps listed above work for both folders and files in Windows and once you’ve password protected a file, you can upload it to Google Docs where it will remain password protected. Keep in mind that you can’t access and edit the file online like you would with other non-protected files but it does keep them safe. You miss out on the features of web editing and turn Google Docs into more of a file safe but if the file is important and private it might be worth it. If you’re looking for a more secure way to transfer and store files online check out Dropbox.
For more information on the topic of password protecting folders and files in Windows read this article on eHow and note their warnings that “Failure to enter the password correctly will result in a permanent locking of the files” so be careful and remember that password!