Protecting your files and folders against intrusion has become an increasingly big concern. Hack attempts and privacy intrusions mean that it's become easier than ever for complete strangers to access your most personal details stored on your computer.
For businesses it's worse, as the exposure of sensitive or confidential records can result in financial losses as well as heavy fines.
While there are a number of security solutions available, everything from free anti-malware tools for home consumers and endpoint anti-virus for business, even simple human error can undermine these attempts to secure data.
Encryption software is already deployed by some large corporations and government agencies to protect data, but it's also available and now accessible for a wider range of users.
Once properly setup, even if your security software fails, thieves/hackers/snoopers would still find it almost impossible to do anything with any encrypted data that might be exposed.
Here then are the best in encryption software tools.
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Best encryption software tools - at a glance
- Folder Lock
Encryption for small teams and individuals
While free software can be convenient for some, it’s not always as powerful as premium offerings, and AxCrypt is a good bet if you want something reliable. The software has been designed specifically for individuals and small teams within businesses.
It provides strong security, with files protected by either 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption, which should thwart any intruders. There are also cloud storage capabilities thrown into the mix – the software will automatically protect files saved on services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
AxCrypt is fully multilingual, and it can work with languages such as Dutch, French, German, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Swedish, Russian and Portuguese – with more support planned for the future. As well as this, there’s passport management, and you can access your encrypted files through a smartphone app.
The Premium package is $42 per year and there's a business version with extra admin features available for $87 per year. There is a free version but it's very limited and perhaps best thought of as a way to trial the software and help become used to the interface and basic functions.
Effective encryption for individuals
Although it’s important to protect assets on company computers, it’s also crucial to add protection to any device that stores critical data. For instance, most employees have access to their company emails and other accounts on their smartphones, and they need to be protected.
Folder Lock is a good option when it comes to adding encryption to your mobile devices. The app can protect your personal files, photos, videos, contacts, wallet cards, notes and audio recordings stored in your handset.
There are some other hidden security features, too. Not only is there encryption, but you can also set a decoy password, hacker deterrents, log unauthorised login attempts, back up all your passwords and get notified on potential brute-force attacks.
The basic app is free to download, with a pro version available for a one-time fee of $39.95 which opens up more advanced and useful security features.
Powerful protection indeed
CryptoExpert is Windows desktop software which offers secure data vaults for all your data, ensuring it’s always protected from potential breaches.
It provides more powerful encryption than some of the other tools and apps listed in this article, boasting fast on-the-fly operation. The system can back up a range of different files, including certificates, Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, multimedia files and email databases.
The best thing about CryptoExpert 8 is that it can secure vaults of unlimited size, and it uses Blowfish, Cast, 3DES and AES-256 encryption algorithms. The latter are highly effective and industry-acclaimed. It’ll work with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7, 8 and 10.
There is a free 30-day trial available, after which CryptExpert costs $59.95 to buy.
A quality cloud-based solution
CertainSafe is highly effective cloud-based encryption software which attempts to mitigate all aspects of risk and is compliant with industry regulations.
With the platform, you can store and share documents, private messages, photos, videos and other files without exposing them to third-party sources. You can even collaborate and communicate with colleagues through the system, with all correspondence encrypted.
CertainSafe also adds automated security for business databases and applications, meaning you don’t always have to do things manually.
There's a 30-day free trial available, after which a subscription costs $12 per month for 100GB and up to 100 free guests.
Free encryption for everyone
VeraCrypt is one of the most popular security tools, providing you with enterprise-grade encryption for important data.
The system is quite easy to use, and all it really does is add encrypted passwords to your data and partitions. All you have to do is give the tool a few details about your data, such as volume size, location and specified hashing algorithms – and then the program does its thing.
What’s also nifty about VeraCrypt is that it’s immune to brute-force attacks, so you never have to worry about hackers decrypting your passwords and other sensitive data. The basic version of the software is completely free, as well.
Other Encryption Software to consider
Secure IT 2000 is a file encryption program that also compresses your files. This means that it may take a little longer than some other programs, but it does mean your files are potentially more manageable after. A master password is required to access any files, which can be a little limiting if you'd prefer to have different passwords for different files, not least if you're looking to share some of them with family and/or friends.
Concealer is a file encryption program specifically for Apple Mac computers. Rather than encrypt all files on your harddrive, instead it provides an encrypted area for you to drag files into - which means you need to ensure you delete the original copy so as to avoid having both encrypted and non-encrypted versions on your harddrive. You can also choose your preferred encryption strength as 128 or 256-bit.
Renee File Protector is another piece of file encryption software for Windows, but this one allows you to have different passwords for different files or folders, effectively creating multiple security levels. Alternatively, you can just stick with a master password if required. And if you forget any of your passwords, Renee File Protector can provide prompts to allow you to recover them, which is handy.
SensiGuard doesn't just encrypt your files and folders, it also hides them so that they will remain hidden from unauthorized users, which is a potentially useful feature. Additionally, you can also securely shred files, which means that it's even harder for hackers to locate any sensitive files on your harddrive that you've already encrypted, or deleted.
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