Password Protection and Encryption in Apache POI

Apache POI is a powerful Java library that allows you to create and manipulate Microsoft Excel files. In some scenarios, you may need to protect your sensitive data by adding password protection or encryption to your Excel files. With Apache POI, you can easily set passwords to restrict access to your files and encrypt their content. This tutorial will guide you through the steps of implementing password protection and encryption using Apache POI.

Example Code

Let's start with an example that demonstrates how to password protect an Excel file:

import org.apache.poi.xssf.usermodel.*;

public class PasswordProtectionExample {
  public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
    Workbook workbook = new XSSFWorkbook();
    // Create a sheet and add data
    Sheet sheet = workbook.createSheet("Sheet1");
    Row row = sheet.createRow(0);
    Cell cell = row.createCell(0);
    cell.setCellValue("Confidential Data");
    // Set the password to protect the workbook
    String password = "myPassword";
    ((XSSFWorkbook) workbook).writeProtectWorkbook(createProtectionInfo(password));
    // Save the workbook to a file
    FileOutputStream fileOut = new FileOutputStream("protected.xlsx");
  private static WorkbookProtectionInfo createProtectionInfo(String password) {
    WorkbookProtectionInfo protectionInfo = new WorkbookProtectionInfo();
    return protectionInfo;

In this example, we create an XSSFWorkbook object and add data to a sheet. We then set a password to protect the workbook using the writeProtectWorkbook() method and a WorkbookProtectionInfo object. Finally, we save the workbook to a file.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

To implement password protection and encryption in Apache POI, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Workbook object, such as XSSFWorkbook for XLSX files or HSSFWorkbook for XLS files.
  2. Add data to the workbook by creating sheets, rows, and cells.
  3. Create a WorkbookProtectionInfo object and set the desired password using setPassword().
  4. Invoke the appropriate protection method on the workbook, such as writeProtectWorkbook() for password protection.
  5. Save the workbook to a file using the write() method of the Workbook object.
  6. Close the workbook and the FileOutputStream to release resources.

Common Mistakes

  • Using weak passwords that are easily guessable or prone to dictionary attacks.
  • Forgetting the password and being unable to access the protected file.
  • Not properly closing the workbook and FileOutputStream, which can result in memory leaks or corrupted files.
  • Using the wrong method or class for password protection or encryption.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I remove the password protection from an Excel file?

    Yes, you can remove the password protection by invoking the appropriate method, such as unwriteProtectWorkbook(). However, the original password is required to remove the protection.

  2. How can I encrypt the content of an Excel file?

    Apache POI does not provide direct support for encrypting the content of Excel files. For encryption, you can consider using external encryption tools or libraries.

  3. Can I set different passwords for different sheets within a workbook?

    No, Apache POI does not support setting different passwords for individual sheets within a workbook. The password protection applies to the entire workbook.

  4. Can I protect Excel files with password and encryption at the same time?

    Yes, you can combine password protection and encryption for stronger security. First, set the password to protect the workbook, and then encrypt the file using external encryption tools or libraries.

  5. Can I set passwords for other types of Office files, such as Word or PowerPoint?

    Apache POI primarily focuses on Excel file manipulation. For setting passwords and encryption in Word or PowerPoint files, you may need to explore other libraries or tools specific to those file formats.


In this tutorial, you learned how to implement password protection and encryption in Apache POI. By following the step-by-step tutorial, you can easily set passwords to restrict access to your Excel files and enhance their security. Additionally, the common mistakes and FAQs provided you with useful insights for working with password protection and encryption. Now you can safeguard your sensitive data using Apache POI.