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FIX: encrypt folder is greyed out in Windows 10

In case you’re not familiar, NTFS is the newer file type, and it has numerous advantages over FAT32, so there’s no reason to use the FAT32 file type for your partitions.

If you’re using a FAT32 file system, you might be able to convert it.

One way to do that is to format your partition and choose the NTFS file type. This is the simplest method, but by using it you’ll remove all your files from that partition.

If you decide to use this method, be sure to back up all your important files beforehand.

You can also convert FAT32 drive into NTFS drive without file loss by using Command Prompt.

Although this method shouldn’t remove your files, we advise you to create a backup just in case. This procedure comes with certain risks, and we’re not responsible for potential file loss that might occur.

To convert your FAT32 drive to NTFS, do the following:

1. Start Command Prompt as administrator. To do that, right-click the Start button and choose Command Prompt (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin).
can't encrypt command prompt

2. When Command Prompt starts, run this command:

convert X:/ fs:ntfs

3. Be sure to replace X with the actual letter that represents your drive.

After the command is executed, your drive should be converted to NTFS file type and you’ll be able to use built-in file encryption.

If this method seems a bit complicated, you can always use a third-party tool such as Acronis Disk Director.

This tool offers a simple and friendly user interface, so you should be able to convert your drive with just a few clicks.

Download Acronis Disk Director

3. Use third-party applications

If other solutions didn’t fix your problem, or if you’re using a Home version of Windows, perhaps you might be able to solve this problem by using third-party applications.

There are many great encryption applications available, but if you’re looking for a simple, yet highly effective tool that has AES 256-bit encryption, we recommend you try Folder Lock software.

Download Folder Lock trial version

These third-party applications don’t have any special requirements, and they should be able to work on any version of Windows without problems.

4. Modify the registry

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If you can’t encrypt files on your PC, the issue might be related to your registry. To fix this problem, it’s advised to make a couple of changes to your registry.

You can do that by following these simple steps:

1. Open Registry Editor. To do that, press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Now press Enter or click OK.
regedit folder encrypt grayed out

2. When Registry Editor opens, navigate to this key in the left pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlFileSystem

3. In the right pane, double-click the NtfsDisableEncryption DWORD to open its properties.
folder encrypt grayed out registry

4. Set the Value data to 1 and click OK to save changes. If this value is already set to 1, change it to 0.

After making these changes, restart your PC. Once your PC restarts, check if the problem is still there.

5. Make sure that the Encrypting File System (EFS) service is running

According to users, if the encrypt folder option is grayed out on your Windows 10 PC, it’s possible that the required services aren’t running.

File encryption relies on the Encrypting File System (EFS) service, and in order to fix this problem, you need to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Now press Enter or click OK.
    folder encrypt grayed out services run window
  2. When the Services window opens, locate Encrypting File System (EFS) and double-click it to open its properties.
    can't encrypt services
  3. Set the Startup type to Automatic and click Apply and OK to save changes.
    folder encrypt grayed out properties

After doing that, restart your PC and check if the problem is resolved.

Is BitLocker greyed out in Windows 10? Or maybe it simply fails to encrypt a drive? Here’s what to do!

6. Perform SFC and DISM scans

In some instances, the encrypt folder option might be grayed out because your system is damaged.

Your Windows installation can get corrupted for various reasons, and in order to fix this issue, it’s advised that you perform both SFC and DISM scans.

To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Start Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. When the Command Prompt window appears, run the sfc /scannow command.
    sfc can't encrypt
  3. The scan will now start. The process can take about 15 minutes or more, so don’t interfere with it in any way.

Once you complete the SFC scan, check if the problem is still there.

If you weren’t able to run SFC scan, or if the problem is still there, try running the DISM scan. To do that, follow these steps:

1. Start Command Prompt as an administrator.

2. Run this command:

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
dism scan can't encrypt

3. DISM scan should now start. The scan can take about 20 minutes or more, so be sure not to interrupt it.

Once the scan is finished, check if the problem is still there. If you weren’t able to run SFC scan before, try running it after DISM scan and check if that helps.

7. Use fsutil command

According to users, if you can’t encrypt files, you might be able to fix this problem using the fsutil command.

This is fairly simple, and in order to do it, you just have to follow these steps:

1. Run Command Prompt as an administrator.

2. When Command Prompt opens, enter this command:

fsutil behavior set disableencryption 0

After this command is executed, restart your PC and check if the problem is still there.

If the encrypt folder feature isn’t working, you need to be sure that you meet certain requirements.

However, if you meet the necessary requirements and you still can’t encrypt files, be sure to try some of our solutions.

FAQ: Learn more about file and folder encryption issues

  • Why can’t I encrypt a folder?

One possible reason could be the EFS not working. Type services.msc in the Run menu, select EFS from the list, and set its Startup type to Automatic. If you’re having trouble finding your history in the Run menu, consider these fixes.

  • Why is Encrypt contents to secure data greyed out Windows 10?

There are many potential culprits from incorrect registry values all the way to the version of Windows 10 you’re on. Have a look at this complete guide with causes and solutions to fix a greyed out Encrypt folder option.

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  • How do I enable Encrypt content to secure data?

In File Explorer, right-click on your folder and open its Properties. Then go to the General tab ->Advanced ->Encrypt contents (…). If you’d like a more detailed view on how to encrypt files and folders in Windows 10, here’s all you need to know.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2018 and was revamped and updated in January 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

This post was written by Milan Stanojevic and was first posted to WindowsReport

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