When you have multiple users for a single computer, there are bound to be privacy issues. It would be better, if each user could set a password for his or her folders. That would prevent unauthorized access and make the users feel secure about their private data.
Enabling Password Protection
Only the Windows 7 Ultimate edition has the facility to encrypt a folder, by modifying its advanced properties; however, other versions don't have it.
For those who do not have the Ultimate edition, there are other ways in which you can restrict access to certain files and folders, which will be discussed in the following lines. The first one enables you to secure your data without setting up a password. Besides this, you can always use other third-party programs that can set passwords for your files and folders.
Modify Access Rights to The Folder
The simplest way of protecting your private files and folders on this OS, is to use the facility for changing the access rights to files and folders. This can be easily done and it is the simplest way of systematically customizing the access rights of users to certain folders. It is necessary that you be an administrator for the laptop or desktop computer, to be able to control access rights. That is because, if you are just a user, you may not have the permission to modify the rights to access the folders and files. So if you plan to modify the access rights, first log in as the administrator.
Right click on the folder which you want to protect from access. Out of the several options visible in the drop down menu, select the 'Properties' option. This will open up a window with several tabs. Then click on the security tab. You will see a list of users or groups of users that have access to that folder. To modify access rights, first select the user whose access you want to restrict and then click on 'edit'.
This will provide you with a list of actions that could be performed on the folder, including reading, writing, and modifying content. Select the 'deny' check box against all the rights for a particular user or users and save settings. By restricting access rights of all other users, you have automatically secured the folder. Now, only you will be allowed to access it, which is as good as setting a password. In fact, I would say that this method is even more secure.
Use Hide Files and Folders Software
Another way to implement folder security is to use the 'Hide Files and Folders' software. You can buy this one for about USD 49, and it will secure any folder file or program for you. Just make sure that you don't forget your own password.
Use Password Protect
Another software which you could use is 'Password Protect'. Buy it for USD 40 and use it to restrict access to your private files on Windows 7. This option is a better one, if you don't want to get into the details of modifying access rights to the folders and there is a large number of them.
Using the authentication procedure can be tiresome, when you have too many folders. You are better off using a secure software like 'Hide Files and Folders'. Having personally used this program, I can guarantee that it works perfectly and protects your data well. You can always choose any of the other programs listed above. However, if you don't want to pay for a program, manipulating the user authentication rights is the simplest and practically 'free' way of limiting access.