Thursday, November 6, 2014

Keeping Things Safe

How many times have you heard or read that you should routinely back up your data on your computers?  Well, protecting your Excel work can be similarly important. 

Perhaps you are asking “Why is this important?” Maybe you have never done this, and never had a problem. That may be just fine if you are the only one using one of your Excel masterpieces, but if are sharing your work (and most of us probably are) with others there will come a time when the others will want to “Experiment” with your formulas and format. Don’t let this happen!  The construction of your workbook may have taken dozens of hours to create, and there is the potential for substantial ruin!

Happily, Excel has built-in Protection Tools to help us all out.

Let’s take a look at Excel 2013 for a How-To Example (other versions are similar):

Protecting and Unprotecting a Worksheet with a Password

1. If there are specific cells that you wish to enable users to modify (such as a Data Entry Range in a dynamic report), go to the Review tab and select the Allow Users to Edit Ranges in the Changes group and select the range you wish to keep accessible. In the example below, cells B5:B14
2. Next, click the Protect Sheet button in the same dialogue box. Excel in turn opens a Protect Sheet dialog box (see below), where you can Assign a Password, and select the Permissions you wish to be available to the users.
3. Click OK

You can easily Unprotect the worksheet with the password anytime you wish to make changes. And, of course, as this can cause a business disaster (people have been fired for losing this), Be Sure to Keep Track of the Password. This should barely warrant mentioning, but it does happen.

One Last Important Note: Protecting your worksheets is Not making it absolutely Secure.  It is not ample protection to prevent users from accessing confidential or sensitive data, and any backyard hacker can break it.  It is for casual protection.

Protecting Your Worksheets.  Certainly a Best Practice for any Excel practitioner, and one worth your time. Give it a try, and find out how easy it is to add a bit of protection to your hard work.

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