If you are concerned about the security of the data inside your PC, then you should encrypt it. Encryption adds a fool proof security wall over your data that makes it almost impossible for a hacker to breach and access your data.
Thankfully, there are plenty tools available for Windows to encrypt your data and keep it out of the reach of hackers. In this post, we will list down the five best encryption software for Windows.
Note: Encryption does slow down your system a bit (especially on the old computer) as the data needs to be decrypted to be used. If you are concerned about the security of your data, then this little performance loss should not stop you.
Best Encryption Tools For Windows
1. Windows BitLocker
If you are looking to encrypt your data in Windows, then you don’t need a third-party encryption tool at all. Windows come with a built-in encryption tool that is incredibly easy to use and offers strong encryption. Unfortunately, it is only available in Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate version of Windows. You are out of luck if you are running standard or home version of Windows.
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BitLocker offers whole disk encryption that encrypts all the data inside a drive. It uses both 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data. To access BitLocker, go to Control Panel > System and Security > BitLocker Drive Encryption. Here you can follow the setup wizard to add encryption using a password or a physical key. Apart from full disk encryption, BitLocker can also encrypt plugged drives; like USBs. Once the drive is encrypted, you will be required to enter a password every time the PC is booted.
You may already know about the popular file archiving tool 7-Zip, but did you know it offers amazing data encryption as well? While storing all your files and folders as a single compressed file, 7-Zip can also encrypt the data to make it impossible for anyone to access without the right password. As 7-Zip allows you to encrypt individual files and folders, it gives you great control over what you want to encrypt.
Once 7-Zip is installed, select and right click on the files/folders you would like to encrypt and select “Add to Archive” from the 7-Zip side menu. In the archives, there will be an “Encryption” option in the right panel. Just enter your password here and click on “OK” to create an encrypted archive. Now you will have to provide the set password when you need to decompress files and access them. The drawback of 7-Zip encryption is that you will always have to decompress files to access the data inside.
AxCrypt is a feature rich encryption software with intuitive UI. However, it’s a paid software with a limited free version. AxCrypt interface only consists of two columns, one to see recently encrypted files and other to see all the secured folders. You can either open files in the Axcrypt interface or right click on files in the Windows file explorer to directly encrypt from there.
Some of the AxCrypt notable features include, password sharing, unique password for individual users, ability to encrypt cloud storage folders in your PC, built-in password manager, automatically secure newly added data, 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption, permanent file deleter and brute force attack resistance. Most of these features will cost a subscription of €3/month. With the free version, you will get AES 128-bit encryption, shared keys, and backup account keys.
If you can’t use Windows BitLocker or don’t like what it has to offer, then DiskCryptor is a great alternative. DiskCryptor is easy to use whole disk encryption solution that offers multiple encryption methods. You can use AES, Twofish, Serpent or a combination of all three of these encryption methods. The working is simple, just choose your drive and click on “Encrypt”. Now provide encryption method and encryption password and DiskCryptor will start encrypting your drive.
Depending on your drive storage it could take few hours to encrypt the drive completely. Once encrypted, you can easily mount or unmount drives. It comes with options to optimize SSDs and disable TRIM when encrypting a drive on an SSD. Additionally, you can also encrypt removable storage devices and use DiskCryptor to mount or unmount them.
Above tools are fine to quickly encrypt data in your Windows PC. However, if you are an advanced user and want a comprehensive tool, then you will be dazzled by VeraCrypt. Based on the legendary encryption software TrueCrypt, VeraCrypt offers astonishing encryptions features. The main function of VeraCrypt is to create separate encrypted volumes (drives) where you can move data to encrypt it automatically. All the data that is transferred to the encrypted vault can only be accessed with the specified password.
You can also encrypt individual drives if you prefer. Interestingly, it has a hidden operating system function that allows you to create a hidden encrypted operating system that only you can access. In case you are forced to give up the encryption key (for example by law enforcements), they will never find out about the hidden encrypted vault.
The awesome thing about VeraCrypt is its step-by-step processes and detailed explanation of each step and feature. Although it is a tool for advanced users, its helpful instructions allow anyone to encrypt data. I must also mention that VeraCrypt offers great customization options and makes most of the process automatic, but you will have to try it out to see its true potential.
If you have a portable device like a laptop, then it becomes mandatory to encrypt your data. An unprotected stolen laptop will give up all the data to the thief. I will recommend VeraCrypt, it is incredibly powerful and can be used by anyone, thanks to the handy instructions. Although, 7-Zip is a good option too as it allows you to send the encrypted file to other people online. Do let us know in the comments which one of these tools you like.