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I remember in Windows XP, you could set a password to a zipped compressed folder. But in newer Windows OS, the option is not available. Is there any reference which tells why would they remove this feature?

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Windows only supports ZipCrypto natively. As ZipCrypto is vulnerable to known-plaintext attacks that could easily be exploited e.g. with bkcrack, it should never be used. I don't think it's clearly told anywhere, but I can guess the feature was silently removed (since Windows Vista), because it gave false sense of security. However, probably because of the strong backwards compatibility, even Windows 10 can still decrypt those ZipCrypto ZIP files.

7-Zip, WinZip, WinRAR etc. support AES-256 encrypted ZIP-files. The encryption is stronger, but...

  • It only encrypts the file contents, not their names. You can circumvent this by first compressing the files into a ZIP and then putting that ZIP into another, AES-256 encrypted ZIP.
  • It's not compatible with the native ZIP support in Windows. If you use it, the receiver must have a third party program with the support, too.
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The option to encrypt the zip files is still there, but Microsoft has done changes to the mechanism - how to do it and the way it works. Now, you would have to zip the file and then right click > Properties> Advanced Attributes > Encrypt contents to secure data > Apply to folders and sub-folders. As long as you're logged into your Microsoft account, you will be able to open/extract the contents and other users will not. However, this is not suited for sending as encrypted zip.

I do not know why they'd do something like that, but if I can recommend a great tool for compression/decompression and password protection, I'd like to recommend 7zip: it's a very powerful FOSS tool.

-Cheers

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    That is something else entirely: EFS, an NTFS feature to encrypt files. – Daniel B May 8 at 8:53

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