Excel has built in security to password protect your file. You can prevent unauthorized access by setting a password to open the workbook. It helps you to secure your sensitive information by allowing access only to the users with password.
You may have heard about the software which crack excel password. Yes, it works sometimes for excel 2003 and earlier versions. But Excel 2007 and above uses encrypted passwords for file opening, so it’s not easy to crack these, not at least with that downloadable software you find in search results.
Okay, so without deviating much, let’s learn about the security options you have in Excel. In fact, Excel does not only have the option to password protect the file opening, but there are a lot of other options available. Typically, you would like to do any of these for protecting your file.
- Password protect opening of the workbook
- Password protect modifying the entire workbook
- Don’t password protect but give a message and option to open it as read only
- Protect one or multiple worksheets from being modified
- Protect entire sheet except a few cell
- Protect the modification of worksheet without password
- Lock the structure of the workbook
Well, the list is longer, but Microsoft excel does not disappoint you. It comes with a number of security options which gives you complete flexibility. In this article, we will discuss the Excel security option at Workbook (excel file) level.
Excel File Protection
The best method to secure your excel file is by using a password protection for file opening. If you password protect an excel workbook, you provide access to only authorized persons to open or view the contents. Passwords used at this level are encrypted by advanced methodology and are highly secured. To set a password to open and view the excel file, go to ‘Microsoft Office Button’ and select ‘Save As’ Excel Workbook.
Select ‘General Options’ from Tools. In the General Options dialog box, write the password to open and click OK. You will be asked to re-enter the password for confirmation. Now save the file.
You have just set the password to open and view the file. For high security and sensitive data which you want to protect from unauthorized access, you should use this method. All other password protection options available in excel are not encrypted. That means they can be cracked with some effort.
There is another option which allows you to provide one additional password to modify the file. But as I mentioned earlier, this is not encrypted. You may wonder; where should I use this option? Well, in case you just want to prevent someone accidentally change the content, you can use a password to modify the file. In that case, anyone can view the file but only the authorized users can modify it.
But where should you use both these passwords? In a scenario where the data is sensitive and you want only the authorized persons to view the files and from these authorized persons only those can modify it who know both the passwords. This is the maximum level of security in excel you can have at workbook level!
Protecting Excel Workbook
Apart from preventing unauthorized access and modification, you can also restrict users from making changes by locking the structure of worksheets which restricts adding or deleting the sheets and displaying the hidden worksheet. Apart from that you also have the option to lock the size and position of worksheet windows. This will prevent users from moving, resizing or closing the windows.
Go to the Review tab -> Changes Group and select Protect Workbook
Here you have option to lock the Structure and/or Windows. You have the option to provide an optional password to protect the workbook.
When you lock the structure, you prevent users from
- Add a new worksheet
- Delete one or multiple worksheets
- Hide a sheet
- Unhide a sheet
- Rename a sheet
- Move a sheet
- Copy a sheet to another file
- Recording new macros
- Use strong passwords – include numbers, special characters and combination of uppercase and lowercase letters which are not easy to guess for protecting confidential information. You can use phrases in place of words like – I_earned_$500_in_Year_2010. These are quite strong and at the same time easy to remember.
- Don’t use Excel password protection to protect your other passwords. In other words, don’t write all your passwords in an excel sheet and use a password protection. It is always advisable to remember your passwords and change them periodically.
- The data in the hidden worksheet cannot be encrypted with Workbook Protection. This is only meant to prevent users from accidental changes.
- To remove the excel workbook protection, go to Review tab -> Changes Group and uncheck Protect Workbook. You may require the password if it has been used to protect workbook.