How do I... Secure Microsoft Windows XP Professional?

The contents of this folder will be encrypted.

Step 11: Encrypt whatever you can
A username and password combination is a good beginning to protecting files and folders. However, if a machine -- particularly a laptop -- is stolen it's a very simple matter to break into the contents of the hard drive. The only way you can be reasonably sure that files and folders will remain inaccessible to a thief is to encrypt files so that they are extremely difficult to pry open.

Windows XP includes the ability to selectively encrypt files and folders. To do so:
  1. Right-click the folder that contains files that you want to encrypt.
  2. From the shortcut menu, choose Properties.
  3. On the General tab, click the Advanced button.
  4. Select the checkbox next to Encrypt contents to secure data.
  5. Click OK.