How to Change the Encryption Level for File Sharing Connections on Windows

Trying to talk to an older system? Adjust your encryption level to meet its own with these tips.

The Windows file sharing feature allows you to share files and printers across a local network. Windows uses 128-bit encryption for local sharing, but you can change the encryption level if you need to.

Here’s how to change the encryption level for file-sharing connections in Windows 10 or 11.

Why Should You Reduce or Increase the Encryption Level?

Although 128-bit encryption is the standard encryption level for most devices, this isn’t always the case. Some devices require a different encryption level for file sharing. This could be 56-bit or even 40-bit encryption.

Devices that require these less secure encryption methods are not very common now. But an older device may require something other than 128-bit encryption. If that is the case, you will need to know how to change it if you want to be able to share files or connections.

If the topic of encryption is still a bit baffling, be sure to check out the most common encryption types to learn more.

How to Change the Encryption Level in Advanced Sharing Settings

Windows 10 has some basic sharing options in the main Settings app. But if you want to dig deeper into sharing problems, you need to access the Advanced Sharing Settings.

  1. In Windows Search, type advanced sharing settings and click on Manage Advanced Sharing Settings in the results. You can also search for sharing in the Settings app to find it.
  2. The Advanced Sharing Settings will open in Control Panel. Expand the All Networks section to see more options.
  3. Find the File Sharing Connections section and change the encryption level from the recommended 128-bit to 40 or 56-bit.
  4. Save the changes and close the Control Panel.

You can now share files to devices that require the older 40 or 56-bit DES encryption.

How to Change the Encryption Level in the Registry Editor

If you can’t change the encryption level in the advanced sharing settings, you can do so in the Registry Editor.

To avoid potential problems when making changes, always back up the Windows Registry before you start.

  1. In Windows Search, type registry and click on Registry Editor in the results.
  2. In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlLsaMSV1_0
  3. With MSV1_0 selected, look in the pane on the right to find the NtlmMinClientSec DWORD, and double-click it.
  4. Change the value data from 20000000, the default for 128-bit encryption, to 0. Click Ok.
  5. Repeat this for the NtlmMinServerSec DWORD, changing the value from 20000000 to 0 in the same way as before.

You can then close the Registry Editor to save the changes. The encryption level for local file sharing should now be using the 40-bit or 56-bit setting.

You can easily change the encryption level back to 128-bit in the Registry Editor if you no longer need the older encryption method. Just repeat the steps above, changing the value data for the two mentioned DWORDs from 0 to 20000000.

Sharing Files Using a Different Encryption Level

The change from 40 or 56-bit encryption to 128-bit encryption made a big difference to file security. But that doesn’t mean that some older devices on your local won’t require the older encryption method.

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