In cybersecurity, the term encryption refers to the process of locking and encoding data so that it is only accessible to authorized parties. This is typically done with encryption software.
But what are the best encryption software solutions to protect your sensitive information? Here are our top five picks.
Created by Nord, the same company that runs the popular VPN service, NordLocker is a great option for businesses and individuals because it can store sensitive files both locally and in the cloud.
All data in NordLocker is end-to-end encrypted. This provides a rather powerful layer of security, not least because Nord uses the strongest encryption protocols in the world: AES-256, Ed25519, and xChaCha20. But more importantly, NordLocker uses a zero-knowledge security architecture. This ensures that no one, not even NordLocker, can access your files without your explicit authorization.
The process of encrypting documents sounds complicated to the average person, but Nord has made that effortless with its drag-and-drop functionality. When you want to encrypt a file or a folder, you just drag it to the NordLocker app, and you’re done. It’s also easy to organize files, sync them across different devices, and so on.
Are there any downsides to using NordLocker, then? If you use the free version, you can encrypt up to 3 GB of files. For anything more than that, you’ll have to reach for your wallet.
AxCrypt is another excellent encryption tool that can be used by both organizations and individuals. It is lightweight and fairly minimalist, so even people who aren’t too tech-savvy should be able to use it with little to no issues.
AxCrypt uses AES-256 encryption exclusively, but that’s not a problem because this is a military-grade protocol that will keep any sensitive data secure. The software has a cloud storage service, works on computers and mobile devices, and has a handy key-sharing feature.
The differences between the two plans AxCrypt offers, Business and Premium, are significant. With the Business plan, you get a master key, and your own dedicated Account Manager, which certainly makes it easier for businesses to handle the technical side of things.
Overall, AxCrypt is more affordable than NordLocker and many other similar services, but it does not have a proper free version. The one the company offers can only be used to decrypt existing files, and not much else. It should be noted, however, that there is a free trial option.
Folder Lock is a rather unique program, at least as far as encryption software goes. It is not subscription-based: you just buy it once, and you can use it indefinitely.
For encryption, Folder Lock uses AES-256, so it is in no way inferior to other similar products in that regard. However, you can’t back up your data in the cloud with this software—that’s an additional service you have to pay for.
The pricing is not the only thing that separates Folder Lock from its competition. It actually has a bunch of cool features other similar tools lack. For example, it has a digital wallet (for securing your banking information) and a file shredder, which is great when you need to make sure there is no way to recover a file you don’t want others to access.
What could be confusing for some people is that Folder Lock can both lock and encrypt files and folders. In other words, a locked folder is not necessarily encrypted, so always make sure you’re actually creating encrypted lockers, as opposed to just locking files with a password.
Steganos Data Safe is another budget-friendly option. When you purchase it, you renew the license yearly and can use it on up to five devices. There’s also a free 30-day trial to test out the product.
But how does it actually perform when it comes to encryption? Steganos Data Safe uses the 384-bit AES-XEX encryption protocol, and acts like a separate disk drive. You can drag and drop files and folders into it, create backups and different types of safes (they can store up to 2 TB of data). This includes cloud safes, portable safes, and so on. Obviously, these are protected by encryption.
Steganos Data Safe supports data encryption in several popular cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. It also uses two-factor authentication, and has a feature that enables users to set emergency passwords. So, if you ever need to access something from a safe but for some reason you cannot, you can authorize a third party to do it for you thanks to this feature.
The unusual interface may take some getting used to, but all in all Steganos Data Safe seems like a solid, reliable, and secure piece of encryption software.
As the name suggests, Advanced Encryption Package is meant for experts. Of course, nothing stops a novice from using the software, but its dated user interface would probably give many people pause. It is very minimalist and vintage—Windows 95-style vintage.
But if you are able to ignore that, or simply like old school-looking software, you will probably enjoy using Advanced Encryption Package. The program uses 20 different encryption algorithms, including AES, Blowfish, and Twofish—just pick one from the drop-down menu when you want to encrypt a file, and the tool will do the rest on its own.
Advanced Encryption Package is very lightweight and integrates easily with the Windows system. Plus, it makes it possible to store encryption keys on USB drives, has a command line utility, a password quality indicator, and lets you share encrypted files easily with other people.
If you’re not sure whether this program is for you or not, there is a free 30-day trial. And if you like it, you can purchase it for a one-time fee.
Boost Your Security With Encryption Software
Encryption makes a tremendous difference when it comes to cybersecurity. It is the best possible way to shield your data from theft, malware attacks, and other cyber threats.
And if you don’t have the budget for encryption software to secure all of your devices, consider protecting the data saved on your computer’s hard drive for a start—this can be done for free.