What is Windows Encryption File System (EFS) and how do I turn it on or off?

Windows has a few powerful built-in security tools that you can use anytime, but have you heard of the Encrypting File System (EFS) feature? Simply put, EFS is a tool that helps you easily encrypt all your Windows files and folders.

But what are the advantages of this tool, and how do you activate or deactivate it? Let’s find out.

What are the benefits of using the file system encryption feature?


Selecting the security option on a PC

Windows EFS feature allows you to easily encrypt and decrypt files on your Windows NTFS drives. Once files are encrypted with this tool, other people will not be able to access them unless they have your password.

One of the advantages of the tool is that it allows you to encrypt a specific folder rather than the entire hard drive partition. Also, if you move a file to an EFS encrypted folder, the file will be automatically encrypted.

And now that we know about EFS, let’s see how you can turn this tool on or off.

1. How to enable or disable EFS using command prompt

Command Prompt is an essential Windows tool that you can use for a variety of purposes. You can use it to configure various settings or troubleshoot system issues.

Related: The Best Free Windows 10 Repair Tools To Fix Any Problem

Let’s see how Command Prompt can help you activate EFS tool:

  1. hurry Win + R to open the Run Command dialog box.
  2. Type CMD and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated command prompt.
  3. To activate the EFS function, type the following command and press Enter:

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fsutil behavior set disableencryption 0

If you want to disable this tool, type the following command and press Enter:

fsutil behavior set disableencryption 1

2. How to enable or disable EFS using Local Group Policy Editor

The Local Group Policy Editor can also help you activate the EFS tool. However, this method will work if you are using Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, or Education versions. But if you have Windows 10 Home, you can try the different ways to open the Local Group Policy Editor.

Now, here’s how the Local Group Policy Editor can help you activate the EFS tool:

  1. hurry Win + R to open the Run Command dialog box.
  2. Type gpedit.msc and press Enter to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Move towards Computer Configuration> Administrative Templates> System> File System> NTFS.
  4. In the right pane, double-click the Do not allow encryption on all NTFS volumes setting.


Enable or Disable EFS Using Local Group Policy Editor

In the next window, select Not configured Where Deactivated. hurry Apply then press Okay to apply these changes.

If you want to disable the tool, open NTFS settings according to the previous steps. Select the Activate option, press Apply, then press Okay. Finally, restart your PC to apply the changes.

3. How to enable or disable EFS via local security policy

Another reliable Windows tool is Local Security Policy. Here are the steps to enable EFS through Local Security Policy:

  1. hurry Win + R to open the Run Command dialog box.
  2. Type secpol.msc and press Enter to open the local security policy.
  3. Move towards Security settings and click on the scrolling menu below Public key policies.
  4. Right click on File system encryption and select Properties.


Enable or disable EFS through local security policy

In the next window, navigate to General tab and select To allow under the Encrypting Files Using File System Encryption (EFS) option. hurry Apply then press Okay. Restart your system for the changes to take effect.

To deactivate the EFS tool, go to the Encrypting File System Properties window according to the previous steps. To select Not defined Where Do not allow, hurry Apply, then press Okay. Restart your PC when you are done.

4. How to enable or disable EFS using services

The services tool helps you easily configure various system settings. In this case, we’ll show you how it can help you enable EFS.

  1. To start, press Win + R to open the Run Command dialog box.
  2. Type services.msc and press Enter.
  3. In the next window, scroll down and double click on the File System Encryption (EFS) option.


Enable or Disable EFS Using Services

Click it scrolling menu next to the Start type option and select Automatique. Click on Apply then click on Okay to save these changes. When you are finished, press the To start up button below Service status.

To disable EFS, open the Service settings according to the previous steps. Select the Deactivated option on Start type scrolling menu. hurry Apply and press Okay to apply these changes.

5. How to enable or disable EFS using Registry Editor

You can also enable or disable EFS using Registry Editor. However, this will require making some changes to the critical registry keys. So, you might want to consider backing up the registry before continuing.

Otherwise, here’s how to enable or disable EFS through Registry Editor:

  1. hurry Win + R to open the Run Command dialog box.
  2. Type Regedit and press Okay to open the registry editor.
  3. Move towards Computer> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE> SYSTEM> CurrentControlSet> Policies.
  4. Right click on any empty space on the right side and select New> DWORD value (32 bits).

Enable or Disable EFS Using Registry Editor

Name the DWORD value as NtfsDisableEncryption and press Enter. To enable EFS, double-click on the NtfsDisableEncryption value, set its Value data at 0, and press Okay.

To disable EFS, double-click on the NtfsDisableEncryption value, set its Value data at 1, and press Okay.

How to encrypt or decrypt files and folders with EFS

You now know how to enable or disable the EFS tool on a Windows device. But how to encrypt your files and folders with this tool? Let’s find out.


  1. hurry Win + E to launch the file explorer.
  2. Right-click on a file or folder and click Properties.
  3. Click it Advanced button in the next window.
  4. Check the Encrypt content to secure data box and click on the Okay button.

How to encrypt or decrypt files and folders with EFS

In the pop-up window, select either the Apply changes to this folder only Where Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files option. hurry Okay once you have finished.

Restart your PC to apply these changes.

If you want to decrypt your files, go to the Properties window according to the previous steps. Click it Advanced button and uncheck the box Encrypt content to secure data box. Click on Okay to finalize the process.

Protect your files with Windows Encryption File System

If you are looking for a quick way to encrypt your Windows files, try the File System Encryption feature. The tool is free and fairly easy to use. To turn it on or off, just apply the tips we have provided.


But if you want sophisticated file encryption tools, you can try other third-party apps like BitLocker.


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