How to Create a Password Protected ZIP File in Linux

ZIP is a very popular compression and file packaging utility for Unix-like operating systems as well as Windows. While perusing through the zip man page, I discovered some useful options for protecting zip archives.

Read Also: How to Password Protect a Vim File in Linux

In this post, I will show you how to create a password protected zip file on the terminal in Linux. This will help you learn a practical way of encrypting and decrypting contents of zip archive files.

First install zip utility in your Linux distribution using the package manger as shown.

$ sudo yum install zip    [On CentOS/RHEL]
$ sudo dnf install zip    [On Fedora 22+]
$ sudo apt install zip    [On Debian/Ubuntu]

How to Create Password Protected ZIP in Linux

Once installed, you can use the zip command with -p flag to create a password protected zip archive called from the directory of files called ccat-1.1.0 as follows.

$ zip -p pass123 ccat-1.1.0/
Create Password Protected Zip File
Create Password Protected Zip File

However, the above method is absolutely insecure, because here the password is provided as clear-text on the command line. Secondly, it will also be stored in the history file (e.g ~.bash_history for bash), meaning another user with access to your account (more especially root user) will easily see the password.

Therefore, try to always use the -e flag, it shows a prompt allowing you to enter a hidden password as shown.

$ zip -e ccat-1.1.0/
Create Password Protect Zip Archive
Create Password Protect Zip Archive

How to Unzip Password Protected ZIP in Linux

To unzip and decrypt the content of the archive file called, use the unzip program and provide the password you entered above.

$ unzip
Decrypt ZIP Archive
Decrypt ZIP Archive

That’s It! In this post, I described how to create a password protected zip file on the terminal in Linux. If you have any queries, or other useful related tip/tricks to share, use the comment form below ping us.

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Aaron Kili
Aaron Kili is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, web developer, and currently a content creator for TecMint who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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  1. The example:

    # zip -e ccat-1.1.0/

    Does not work on a folder, as it only compresses the folder and not its content. Indeed, in the output of the example we can get a hint of this fact based on the “(stored 0%)”, which means that the archive is compressed down to 0%, i.e., no actual content.

    To compress a folder and its content, encrypted, we need to add -r:

    # zip -e -r ccat-1.1.0/
    # zip -er ccat-1.1.0/

    will work. We will notice it because we get a comprehensive output and a statement of how much deflation applied to each and every file.

  2. It doesn’t work under cygwin, windows opens up the zip file without asking for a password. No protection whatsoever.

  3. Hello Aaron,

    I thought it would be helpful to mention zip --help since there are different flags for the different versions & distros, but I believe --help is universal.

    For instance, my system / zip gives me -e for encryption and ~20 other flags, but not -p or -P so I know not to bother with them.

    Thanks for the article & excuse to play with something new. 8)

    • @Prabhat,

      In our case, the same command worked perfectly on Ubuntu distro, may be some options differ in different Linux distros…

  4. It doesn’t work option -e with your written method. Right syntax is:

    # zip -e ccat-1.1.0/*

    Do not forget about "*" at the end of line! Without "*" zip makes an archive including all files and folder above ccat-1.1.0 folder.

      • Something strange, maybe I caught the bug yesterday. Now, it is working! But only when the folder ccat-1.1.0 doesn’t include other folder inside. If it has folders with files and so on, you must use option -r (“recursive”).

        This way:

        $ zip -e -r ccat-1.1.0/

        Do not work under root user! Without "#".

        Sorry for my false warning before!
        Thank you for your article!


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