How To Password Protect Your Google Drive

How To Password Protect Your Google Drive

One of the most secure locations to store documents, photographs, and videos is within your Google account, which is protected by a password.

Unfortunately, Google Drive does not specifically provide file or folder protection. However, it does provide the option to limit access to your files using specific sharing settings. Yes, you can share a folder (or doc) with another Google Account, but sometimes you’re looking to share an asset with a non-Google account.

So, how do you password protect your Google Drive files?

To password protect your Google Drive files and folders, you’ll need some extra encryption methods.

The following methods may possibly be your only way to protect your confidential files and folders on GDrive:

  1. Restrict the access in Sharing Settings
  2. Encrypt the folder before uploading
  3. Password protect files with Microsoft Word (for docs) or your PDF tool (for pdfs)

You can use any of these methods to protect your Google Drive folders based on your need.

Let’s dig further into the details for each of these methods and figure out what may be the best method for you to practice.

Looking to share videos on Google Drive?

Get the tips and steps

Restrict The Access In Sharing Settings

You may restrict access to the Google drive file by sharing it with a selected audience. You can use features available within the Share menu on Google Drive to limit and add email addresses of users only with whom you want to share the file.

You may grant permissions such as viewer, commenter, or editor to individuals in order to monitor the access to the folder.

Share settings
Share folders in Google Drive

A viewer will only see the folder, but a commenter may view and make comments on it.

Watch out!

However, be cautious when assigning the editor role to others since they have the authority to organize, add, and edit files without your consent or knowledge.

👉 You can also set an expiration on your shares with other Google account holders. More on setting an expiration on Google Drive shares here.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to restrict access to the files or folders you share:

  1. Right click on the file/folder you want to share and select Share from the drop-down menu.
  2. In the text box, you can either share by email or with a link, pick any option.
  3. If you are sharing with an individual, share with an email and edit the access controls in the right side options, next to where you added the email address.
  4. If you want to share it with a group of people, share it with a link. You can manage access controls for that link to “Anyone with the link” or “Restricted.”

Encrypt The Folder Before Uploading

If you want to encrypt your folders, you’ll actually need to do that before uploading them to Google Drive, there are a few different methods that you can use. One option is to use WinRAR to zip and encrypt the folders. Another option is to use Veracrypt. Both of these methods will password protect your folders and files, making them much more secure.

Encrypt your files and folders with WinRAR

To use WinRAR, simply open the program and then select the option to create an archive. Choose the files and folders that you want to include in the archive, and then select a password. Once the archive has been created, you can upload it to Google Drive like any other file.

Encrypt your files and folders with Veracrypt

To use Veracrypt, first create a new volume. This can be done by selecting the option to create a standard volume or a hidden volume. Then, choose the files and folders that you want to include in the volume and select a password. Once the volume has been created, you can mount it and access the files like any other drive. When you’re finished, unmount the drive and then upload the encrypted file to Google Drive.

Encrypt Files With Microsoft Word

While it’s a bit counterintuitive that you’d use MS Word with Google Drive (because you’re likely using GDocs),this is one of the easiest ways to create an extra layer of protection for your files on Google Drive.

MS Office settings
Password protect that Word Doc

If you want to encrypt your files with Microsoft Word, simply follow the step-by-step guide below:

  1. Open the Word document.
  2. Click on File.
  3. Click on Info.
  4. On the right side, click the Protect document menu.
  5. Select the Encrypt with Password option.
  6. Type a password to protect the document.
  7. Click the OK button.

Your file is now encrypted and can only be decrypted using the provided password. Now you may upload the file to your Google Drive without a second thought. If anyone wants to access it, they’ll have to download it and then enter the password to open the file.

Bonus: Enterprise Client-side Encryption

While a bit more technical and only available for Enterprise Edition customers, you can actually encrypt files in Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides with your own encryption key.

You might want to do that for extreme privacy reasons and top-secret intellectual property.

You might also want to do that if you’re in a highly regulated environment like healthcare, aerospace, defense, or financial services.

Enterprise encryption
Enterprise lock down

Besides being encrypted at rest (meaning when the files are saved and stored by Google) and in transit - which is standard - if a domain admin turns on encryption, then you can create new, encrypted files that are signed by your enterprise credentials and have an extra layer of security.

There’s no password set, so if you’re looking to share files, then this isn’t for you.

Oh, and there are some tradeoffs (like limited collaboration).

Wrap up

When you’re looking to share folders and files in Google Drive, sometimes you’d like to set a password on those shares. Especially when sharing to someone that doesn’t have a Google Drive account.

With simple public sharing, someone could easily gain access to your private information, pictures, or documents if they can get into your computer or Google account without a password. Especially if your computer or phone is lost or stolen, the thief would have easy access to all of your files without having to go through any trouble.

So if you want to keep your information safe, it’s important to protect it with a password. This way, only those who know the password will be able to access your files. And if your computer is ever lost or stolen, you can be rest assured that confidentiality remains intact.