Watermark in Excel


Dear Experts,

Finally, here I am after visiting some forums with this query, seeking your valuable suggestion:

Semi-editable excel file that is non usable if renamed also got misused without getting renamed. Can watermark be a good solution for it? Vba codes making a word or phrase appear as watermark in all sheets (within a certain ranges) could be of great help. Almost all results through search focus on mimicry or use of word art.

Is there a facility of such a watermark in excel? Or, could you please suggest a better solution?

Thank you for your efforts!



Selected Answer

Depends what you are using it for. Remember, Excel files are NOT secure, no matter what. Even novice users can break into them with little effort if they really want to.

That said, a simple solution would be have a password protected macro that forces the user to enable macros in order to work with the file. Keep all worksheets xlveryhidden until the user enables macros and then use those macros in combination with password protecting ranges and worksheets to keep your file locked-down. This macro can also check the name of the file to ensure it hasn't been changed.

Or, run everything through a UserForm (I'm working on a free UserForm class for TeachExcel right now actually.).

This isn't foolproof, but it is a solution that will keep most users from doing what you don't want them to do.

But, for a regular Excel file, you will most likely not ever be able to prevent them from copying the file, renaming it, and breaking into it, if they really want to. 

In the end, the best solution for you would be to use a different program. I know you don't want to hear that, but it's the truth. Excel is simply not a seriously secure program.



Thank you very much for your sincere advice and I've marked it as an answer although advice from other experts are also heartily welcome.

But the realization that excel is not secure is very difficult to digest affecting my affection for excel. So sad.
Chhabi Acharya (rep: 102) Dec 6, '17 at 9:23 am
For a regular user of Excel you wouldn't even notice that it isn't 'secure'. But, if you need something protected so badly that it must be watermarked and the file can't even be renamed, then, yea, it's not really designed with that kind of sercurity in mind. But, if you're not storing and displaying government or corporate secrets in the file and sending that file to people you don't trust, then using the macro solution I mentioned should be good enough.
don (rep: 1521) Dec 6, '17 at 12:15 pm
By the way, could you please suggest a different program with data entry facility like excel as hinted in your answer?
Chhabi Acharya (rep: 102) Dec 14, '17 at 7:48 pm
I haven't used Access in a while, but I would imagine that they have much better data management and security type features; the downside is that it will require more work than just using an Excel file. 
don (rep: 1521) Dec 18, '17 at 5:36 pm
You might start another thread asking for suggestions on the program to use and clearly state what kind of data you want to store and what you want the user to be able to do with it, etc.
don (rep: 1521) Dec 18, '17 at 5:37 pm
I thought creating a non-excel thread would be irrelevant. So, asked here.
Thank you for the suggestion and want to do some homework on Access first before creating a new thread.
Chhabi Acharya (rep: 102) Dec 18, '17 at 7:05 pm
Phrase the question like "Excel Alternative for Security Purposes?" Or something like that. I appreciate your consideration of the rules, but this question should be fine. We know you are coming at this from the perspective of Excel anyway.
don (rep: 1521) Dec 22, '17 at 1:35 pm
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There is no watermark in Excel, and if there was one its purpose would be to guarantee authenticity, not to safeguard data. Therefore my question. What is your purpose?

Guaranteeing authenticity would mean that you want to be sure that the data you are looking at have not been altered. If there was such a thing as a watermark in Excel, you might demand that the watermark should disappear when alterations have been made. If such is your requirement a solution might be possible, although, as Don has explained, Excel isn't designed to withstand persistent attempts at forgery.

If your purpose is to safeguard data you might demand that they disappear when the file's name is changed. Subject to the same limitations already mentioned, that too might be arranged. However, the idea hardly makes sense.

More to the point might be some precaution which screams a warning when data or formulas have been modified. One might think of a solution for that, too, all subject to the same limitations. However, if the task is not to allow unauthorised alterations then by far the better way would be to save the worksheet as PDF and sign the PDF. You can do that with Adobe Reader, it's free, and you can be 100% sure that no alterations have been made while the signature is intact. The signature is electronic and will be deleted automatically - with a very high degree of security, I believe - if any change is made to the document. In addition, a PDF file can be password protected too, making Fort Knox a push-over by comparison.

Adobe are the go-to people when you are looking for the security Excel doesn't offer.



Thank you very much for the help you have been providing.
Of course, I'm concerned with authenticity. Now, I'm thinking of inserting workbook name in an empty cell. That may prevent users from misusing it as each of them needs his own name, not the same.
Thanks again for your suggestion.
Chhabi Acharya (rep: 102) Dec 10, '17 at 5:05 am
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